Jan 06 2011

Extreme weather erodes Java Sea’s maritime prospects

Published by at 8:51 am under Uncategorized

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Fri, 12/03/2010 10:16 AM | National


Extreme weather has seen catches decline and sea accidents increase in the Java Sea, a report says.

The People’s Coalition for Fisheries Justice (Kiara) in its latest report said extreme weather had reduced the number of times the average traditional fisherman went to sea to 160 to 180 times per year from previously 240 to 300 times per year, which equals to a 50 to 70 percent decrease.

“Many fishermen have earned only Rp 40,000 [US$4.44] after fishing the entire day. Some even go home with nothing,” said the coalition’s secretary-general, Riza Damanik, at the launch of a report titled Climate Change and Anthropogenic Impacts in the Java Sea.

The research has also observed traditional fishermen’s activities in coastal areas in other areas in the country, including Sibolga on the western coast of Sumatra, Langkat and Serdang Bedagai in North Sumatra, Tarakan in northern East Kalimantan and Manado Bay in North Sulawesi.

As of 2009, there were 2.75 million fishermen in the country.

Extreme weather incurred potential losses of Rp 56 trillion to Rp 73 trillion on the traditional fisheries sector, Riza said.

The research reveals that a lack of information contributed to the high number of fatal sea accidents caused by extreme weather this year.

“Local fishermen generally depend on their intuition in deciding when to go fishing. This is ineffective,” Riza said.

Citing the report, he said that during the first nine months of the year, at least 68 fishermen went missing and were subsequently considered to have died at sea due to extreme weather.

“Local fishermen face difficulties in deciding the proper time to go fishing because of extreme weather. This has decreased the quality of their lives,” Riza said.

The government should allocate more resources to provide more accurate daily information for local fishing communities, such as weather reports, fishing grounds, and fishing safety principals, he added.

According to a 2008 Central Statistics Agency report, 10,666 coastal villages lack sufficient access to information crucial to traditional fishing communities.

“With Rp 5 billion, or less than 0.2 percent, of the total budget of the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry in 2010, the government should have been able to provide adequate access to information for all coastal villages in Indonesia,” Riza said, adding that the government could better protect traditional fishermen by providing climate insurance desperately needed to cover any potential risks caused by climate change.

The Java Sea is a body of largely shallow water that lies between the northern coast of Java island, southeastern Sumatra and southern Kalimantan, with a passage to the South China Sea.

Coastal ecosystems bordering the Java Sea have suffered extensive damage due to rising sea levels and pollution.

The research found that four important coastal areas, comprising coastal areas of southern Kalimantan, Jakarta Bay, coastal areas of Semarang in Central Java, and the Madura strait, had been critically damaged by human activities.

“Many development activities designed by the government have resulted in the direct disposal of waste into waterways and coastal areas,” Riza said.

Alan F. Koropitan, a lecturer on maritime and fisheries studies at the Bogor Institute of Agriculture (IPB), said that massive quantities of nutrients and organic materials flushed out by rivers had badly polluted the Java Sea.

“Pollution originates from industrial and settlement activities,” said Alan, who led the research team.

He said that impaired mangrove and coral reef ecosystems caused by human activities had weakened the ability of coastal areas to resist the impacts of climate change.

“Mangrove forests protect land from waves and floods and play an important role as sediment traps,” he said.

Mangrove roots provide an ecologically important habitat for feeding grounds for fish and prawns, he added.

He said the government should establish a “Java Sea Consortium” to conserve aquatic ecosystem productivity in the Java Sea’s coastal areas.

“This consortium will hopefully improve developmental policies in coastal areas and conserve the productivity of the aquatic ecosystem of the Java Sea that is for traditional fishermen and coastal communities essential to their livelihoods,” he said.

Riza said that the consortium should comprise 10 coastal provinces: Lampung, Bangka-Belitung, Banten, West Java, Jakarta, Central Java, East Java, West Kalimantan, Central Kalimantan and South Kalimantan. (ebf)

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