Q&A: Rusnadi Padjung, Indonesian Ministry, part 1 

Published on
August 24, 2012

Indonesia is a traditional pole-and-line tuna producing country, but its interest in this traditional catching method has been decreasing in favor of the large volumes of fish that can be caught by purse seining. However, Rusnadi Padjung, deputy assistant for investment with the Indonesian Ministry for Regional Development (KPDT), told SeafoodSource the growing international demand for pole-and-line tuna could be of huge benefit to the country’s coastal communities and its overall economy.

Holland: How can the fast growing popularity for pole-and-line tuna benefit Indonesia?

Padjung: The growing demand trend toward pole-and-line tuna will certainly be of benefit to Indonesia’s economy and its fishery. Indonesia is a pole-and-line tuna producing country, along with Japan, the Maldives, Fiji, Ghana, Brazil and the Solomon Islands. Traditionally and culturally, the pole-and-line catching method has always been practiced by Indonesian fisherman, particularly in eastern Indonesia where it’s locally known as “huhate” in Maluku and “funai” in North Sulawesi.

Unfortunately, the interest in pole-and-line in Indonesia has decreased over the last decade in favor of purse seine fishing and the greater volumes of catch. Today, Indonesian fishers and the industry don’t distinguish between pole-and-line and purse seine caught tuna, so a big volume of pole-and-line tuna is estimated to be sold as purse seine tuna.

However, the growing popularity of pole-and-line tuna could revive our coastal communities and boost the economy. The government will, therefore, support the development of the pole-and-line tuna sector.

Why is it important to the Indonesian government to prioritize the pole-and-line fishing method?

Pole-and-line tuna is in line with the goal and target of our ministries, which is to accelerate the economic development in disadvantaged districts (there are 183 disadvantaged districts out of about 500 total districts in Indonesia) by means of increasing income, decreasing poverty and creating jobs through coordination with technical ministries and other stakeholders.

Most of the disadvantaged regions (70 percent) are in the eastern part of Indonesia with islands and communities living along the coast. The pole-and-line catching method employs more people (four to five times) than purse seine and an average crew consists of 20 to 40 fishers, depending on the size of the vessel.

In addition, pole-and-line is a sustainable catching method and environmentally safe. With one fish caught with one appropriate hook size, there’s no by-catch, such as catches of endangered, threatened and protected species (ETPs) or catches of non-target and dependent species.

Furthermore, pole-and-line requires minimal investment, which is appropriate to poor coastal communities.  Along with a growing trend of pole-and-line demand, the government will prioritize the pole-and-line fishing development.

With the right infrastructure and support, how big could Indonesia’s pole-and-line industry become?

The annual catch of skipjack tuna in Indonesian waters is between 250,000 and 350,000 metric tons (MT). However, there is no clear data indicating how these fish are caught as there’s been no concern or interest so far in distinguishing or separating between pole-and-line and purse seine-caught tuna.

With a price premium put onto pole-and-line tuna, this practice is certainly a plus for the Indonesian economy. Therefore, as a coordinating ministry, we want to pull all stakeholders in the same direction — toward the development of pole-and-line tuna.

By simply distinguishing between pole-and-line and purse seine caught fish, we would be recognized as a big pole-and-line producing country. In addition, we are going to promote pole-and-line by means of facilitating supporting infrastructures and creating an enabling environment for the market to engage with Indonesia’s pole-and-line industry.

With 20 percent of Pacific Ocean tuna estimated to be living in Indonesian waters, we could become one of the biggest pole-and-line producing countries in the world. To achieve this target, we are going to establish a longterm tuna development plan that embraces pole-and-line. This master plan will also serve as a coordinating instrument for our ministry.

Look for the second half of Holland’s interview on SeafoodSource tomorrow.

Contributing Editor reporting from London, UK

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