Wed, 21 Jan 2009
From: The Jakarta Globe
By Arti Ekawati
Implementing regulations for a 2007 law opening more coastal areas across Indonesia to maritime industries, like pearl farming and seaweed cultivation, are expected to be issued during the first half of the year, a senior maritime affairs and fisheries official said on Tuesday.

The government says the law would increase investment and improve economic prospects for development that would benefit coastal communities, but critics fear it would result in residents losing control of their lands.

Some 30 million people, most of them small-scale fishermen, live in traditional villages along the nation’s coast.

“Hopefully the regulations will be issued before April,” Sudirman Saad, the ministry’s director for coastal area and small island management, told reporters in Jakarta. He added that the measure would be fair to both fishermen and investors.

According to the ministry, the regulation would divide coastal areas into zones designated for industry, conservation and lands belonging to local communities.

Communities will not get enough compensation for the land’

Riza Damanik, Kiara general secretary

Once the regulations are issued, local administrations would put forward their own rules to ensure that coastal areas would not be dominated by the private sector, Sudirman said.

Local governments, however, have been criticized for not carefully managing resources and granting concessions to businesses.

The 2007 law governing coastal areas and small island management granted investors the right to develop maritime businesses in several coastal areas. Implementation, however, has been delayed for more than a year on concerns it could lead to conflict between business owners and coastal communities.

“Making zones in coastal areas is crazy, since it is possible that investors could occupy land belonging to the local community by saying that they already have permission from the local administration,” Riza Damanik, general secretary of the Fisheries Justice Coalition, or Kiara, said at a seminar discussing the law in Jakarta on Tuesday.

No one could guarantee that the zoning would be fair to coastal communities, he said.

“Based on my experience, local communities will not get enough compensation for the land,” he said.

Riza urged the government to strengthen the communities’ rights to manage the areas in which they lived. He also questioned why the government was giving investors rights to develop lands belonging to communities, rather than giving residents direct aid to improve their economies.

According to Riza, one clause in the law stated that residents whose rights were affected by the zoning could receive compensation. He said this meant the government was aware that implementation of the law would cause some breaches of locals’ rights, especially those of fishermen, and he urged the government to consider coastal communities and the environmental effects on areas exploited for industry.



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