Indonesia Will Soon Tighten Ecosystem-Based Sharks Fisheries Management

Simposium HiuThe efforts made by the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries of the Republic of Indonesia to protect endangered species and the balance of marine ecosystem have received a positive response from the local government with the issuance of Raja Ampat Regional Regulation No 9 Year 2012 on Prohibition of Fishing Sharks, Manta Rays and Certain Types of Fish in the marine waters of Raja Ampat Regency

The Initiatives of Raja Ampat Regency, which has reserved its marine waters for marine conservation areas, have contributed significantly to the achievement of the target of conservation areas in Indonesia. Besides, marine conservation areas also serve as a sanctuary for various types of endangered fish such as sharks and manta rays. Regional Regulation No. 9 Year 2012 on the "Prohibition of Fishing Sharks, Manta and Certain Types of fish in the Marine waters of Raja Ampat" is a form of Raja Ampat local government commitment to protecting endangered fish species that are threatened with extinction in the waters of Raja Ampat.

Jakarta, March 19, 2013 - Sharks are one of natural resources that can be renewed. They have important roles not only in economy but also in maintaining the ecological balance of the aquatic ecosystem. Lately shark fishing activities, especially the fins trading, have been under the international spotlight. Many are worried that overfishing might lead to the extinction of world shark. COP CITES in March, 2013 included four shark species to CITES Appendix II list, namely: Carcharhinus Longimanus, Sphyrna leweni, Sphyrna mokarran and Sphyrna zygaena. This means that Indonesia has to take steps further toward better management of shark resources in Indonesia. With the inclusion of some shark species to the list of CITES II Appendix, shark fishing is still allowed but with strict controls and regulations.

Following the breakthrough made by Raja Ampat Regency, which confirmed its commitment to banning all forms of fishing sharks and manta rays in its waters, the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries of the Republic of Indonesia reaffirmed its commitment to the protection of shark populations in Indonesia, as reiriterated by the Director General of Marine, Coastal and Small Islands, Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries at the opening of the National Symposium on the Protection of Sharks at the Ballroom of Mina Bahari 3 Building, Jakarta, today (19/03).

Deep appreciation goes to the Regent of Raja Ampat for his leadership for turning Raja Ampat into one of regencies in Indonesia which puts priority on the development of marine and fisheries sectors as well as to balance it with the development of ecosystems conservation programs and marine and coastal biodiversity in Raja Ampat, which directly supports Indonesian national programs to reach the target of turning 20 million hectares into marine conservation areas in 2020 as well as to manage them effectively and provide sustainable welfare for the people. As a form of government commitment, the Minister of Marine and fisheries has designated Raja Ampat islands as National Marine Conservation Area through a Ministerial Decree of the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries No. 64/men/2009 on the designation of Raja Ampat islands and the surrounding sea in the province of West Papua as a national marine conservation area and the Ministerial Decree No. 65/men/2009 on the designation of Western part of Waigeo islands and the sea surrounding West Papua province as a national conservation area.

The Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries has a strong commitment to conservation issues. This is evident from the efforts that have already been made and are being implemented so far. From the target of covering 20 million ha in 2020 as Marine  Conservation Areas,  in 2014, the targeted area of 15.5 million ha is hoped to be achieved. The Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries of Indonesia with the local government have demonstrated their commitment by turning an area of 15.78 million hectares as marine conservation areas in 2012 with the addition of the target area of 500,000 ha in 2013. There are at least 10 (ten) documents on the management and zoning plan that will be in the process of ratification this year and 4 (four) priority conservation areas whose designation is being processed by the Minister of Marine Affiars and Fisheries. This is expected to increase the target area of 500,000 ha of new protected areas, which will serve as evidence of the central and local governments’ strong commitment to the development of sustainable marine fisheries. In addition, Indonesia through the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries also has also contributed to the completion of CTMPAs (coral triangle marine protected area system) which is expected to reach its conclusion in June this year and to be immediately implemented to achieve the effectiveness of conservation area management in the 6 (six) Coral Triangle regions. This all is testament to the commitment of local government and all of us in supporting the development of sustainable marine fisheries.

Indonesia catches the most sharks and rays, and exports the most shark fins in the world. The high prices of  shark fins in the international market has led to the increase in shark fishing, and if it is not controlled or regulated, it can pose a serious threat to the sustainability of shark resources in Indonesia. Shark fishing has been widely associated with by-catch in tuna fishing, but the high prices of shark fins has caused a shift in the pattern of shark fishing, from by-catch to become primary fishing target.

Up to this time, from approximately 200 species of sharks and rays in Indonesia, it is only the sawshark (Pristis Microdon) which has been designated as a nationally protected species, while the whale shark (Rhyncodon typus) is still in the process of getting the status as a protected species in the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries. The Resolution 10/12 of Indonesia Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) also bans shark fishing activities of the rat / monkey shark, also known by the name of Thresher Shark (Alopias pelagicus, Alopias superciliosus and Alopias vulpinus) in RFMOs IOTC areas.

Responding to widespread international condemnation of shark fishing in Indonesia, the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries has made improvements to the management measures for the better, including: strengthening national shark fisheries database, compiling NPOA Sharks, preparing regulatory protection of endangered shark species and protecting their important habitats through marine conservation areas. However, the conservation programs undertaken should still consider the interests of the society to harness the economic potential in a sustainable manner.

Government Regulation No. 60 Year 2007 on "Conservation of Fish Resources" in Article 3 states that conservation is the responsibility of the government, local authorities and communities. The issuance of Local Government Regulation No. 9 Year 2012 on the Prohibition of Fishing Sharks, Manta Rays and certain types of fish in the marine waters of Raja Ampat is a real form of its commitment to the conservation programs of endangered species in Indonesia.



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