Crusher needs to lift her game

 Print Email Facebook Twitter More Indonesian minister who revels in destruction of illegal fishing boats creates job surge for small-scale fishers Pacific Beat By Jemima Garrett Updated Mon at 9:35pm Illegal fishing boats destroyed by Indonesia PHOTO: Thirty-eight illegal foreign fishing boats seized by Indonesia were blown up by the navy in August. (AFP: Rudi Hartono)

PHOTO: Thirty-eight illegal foreign fishing boats seized by Indonesia were blown up by the navy in August. (AFP: Rudi Hartono)

Now that Judith Collins has returned to Police and Corrections Minister I think she is going to have to lift her game.

She has some serious competition from an Indonesian minister.

A penchant for dynamiting illegal fishing vessels has made flamboyant Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti Indonesia’s most popular, and restored tens of thousands of jobs to small-scale fishing along the way.

When she was appointed to President Joko Widodo’s cabinet 14 months ago, commentators thought Ms Pudjiastuti and her illegal fishing crackdown would not last.

In Bali last week, she told delegates from 40 nations attending Pacific fisheries negotiations that depletion of Indonesia’s fisheries were so bad that businesses worth $4 billion had closed down.

Between 2003 and 2013, the number of households earning their primary income from fishing dropped by half to 800,000.
“Shrimps and fish in small villages decreased every single year until one day everything stopped,” Ms Pudjiastati said. ?

“There is nothing to export anymore, and even hard to find something to eat.”

Indonesia, with its 17,000 islands, has the world’s second longest coastline and 5.8 million square kilometres of ocean territory. Fish is a vital source of protein for its population of 250 million people.

A self-made business tycoon who started out 30 years ago with a small fish and lobster business, Ms Pudjiastuti now owns a major domestic airline.

It was from this position that Mr Widodo enlisted her in an ambitious plan to reset the world’s view of his nation.

“The vision of the President is to bring back the prosperity of Indonesia as a maritime country,” she said.

“We want to build back our strength as the centre of gravity of marine activity around the region.”

Ms Pudjiastuti studied the fisheries data and came up with a radical new approach ? banning large foreign fishing vessels and transhipment of fish at sea, restricting commercial fishing to a narrow band between 12 and 20 nautical miles offshore, and halting illegal fishing.

For every licensed fishing vessel, Ms Pudjiastuti found there were five or six that did not have a licence. Incursions from neighbouring countries were frequent.

To show she meant business, the Fisheries Minister dynamited more than 40 illegal fishing boats and circulated the pictures on social media.

She said the initially people feared her action would shut down the fishing industry, one of Asia’s largest.

“In the end, we found it different. The tuna catch is more,” Ms Pudjiastuti said.

In the 12 months since the new policies were introduced, economic growth in the fishing sector has been more than 40 per cent.

If we want foreign owned fishing companies to respect our Exclusive Economic Zone then perhaps we should sink the next rogue vessel trying to thumb their nose at our enforcement activities.