Indonesia creates intelligence hub to curb illegal fishing

Published on
October 7, 2020

Indonesia has established a new marine intelligence hub aimed at tackling illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing in the country’s waters.

The Indonesian Maritime Information Center (IMIC), launched in July, was formed to replace a task force on illegal fishing that was dissolved when Fisheries Minister Edhy Prabowo took office last year. The initiative, led by Indonesian Coast Guard, will help enhance coordination among relevant government agencies, as currently relevant information is not collected by a centralized agency, Mongabay reported 29 September.

“We established IMIC to integrate all information in Indonesia and create operational planning based on data from every agency. Planning will be better because the data is more comprehensive [and] more accurate because it’s analyzed by a lot of agencies,” Indonesian Coast Guard Spokesperson Demo Putra said.

The other agencies involved in IMIC are Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries (KKP), the Coordinating Ministry of Maritime and Investment Affairs, the Water and Air Police Corps, the Ministry of Transportation’s Directorate General of Sea Transportation, the Ministry of Finance’s Directorate General of Customs and Excise, the National Institute of Aeronautics and Space, and the National Search and Rescue Agency.

The new intelligence hub collects and verifies data from the government agencies, including data from satellite imagery, aerial surveillance, and ships’ automatic identification systems (AIS), and other public sources. It then publishes daily maritime updates on its website with vessels suspected of IUU fishing marked as red dots.

IMIC will also provide its in-depth bi-weekly, monthly, and longer-term reports on its website and disseminate them among fishers’ outreach programs and associations.

The government can quickly identify any hotspot of IUU fishing by accessing the IMIC portal and take timely and effective actions, Putra said.

Wildan Ghiffary, a program officer for Global Fishing Watch, which tracks ship movements globally, said the new center will help to deter illegal fishing efforts. Vietnamese, Malaysian, Filipino and Chinese fishing vessels routinely operate illegally in Indonesia’s territorial waters, according to Global Fishing Watch data.

“With IMIC and stronger collaboration between institutions such as the KKP and Navy, I expect IUU fishing will decrease, especially in hotspots with foreign vessels,” he said. “Vessels coming to Indonesia to do illegal fishing may decrease because they’re aware we have stronger surveillance.”

Work to improve the new intelligence hub, including building a synchronized data system that is free from manual inputs, is underway, Ghiffary said.

Under Prabowo’s predecessor, Susi Pudjiastuti, who was replaced in October 2019 by Indonesian President Joko Widodo as part of a cabinet reshuffle, Indonesia had implemented a hardline policy against illegal foreign-flagged ships. Pudjiastuti is credited with ordering Indonesia’s maritime authorities to sink more than 500 illegal fishing vessels during her time in office, a move viewed by several NGOs as a successful deterrent to illegal fishing.

Photo courtesy of Uwe Aranas/Shutterstock

Reporting from Hanoi, Vietnam

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