Minister for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Fadel Muhammad said Tuesday that his ministry would set the ambitious goal of tripling aquaculture production next year if its proposed 50 percent budget increase is approved by the Finance Ministry and the House of Representatives.
Increased production of seaweed, and nile and silver catfish will be targeted to meet the goal.
Fadel said aquaculture output had increased by an average of 20 percent a year over the past five years. Based on the ministry’s data, the output of aquaculture fisheries in 2008 was 3.5 million tons, up 25 percent from the previous year, with silver catfish, seaweed, shrimp and gouramy the main contributors.
Output could be boosted further by providing enough funds to buy high-quality seedlings and improve infrastructure, Fadel said.
To encourage production, the government was also proposing to create an agency to buy fish at guaranteed stable prices, he said. “The new agency would function like Bulog [the State Logistics Agency] for the fishery sector,” he said. Bulog sets the farmgate price for rice.
To achieve the goal, the ministry has asked for a extra Rp 1.6 trillion ($170 million) in next year’s budget, on top of the Rp 3.2 trillion it received this year.
To reach the target, the government and industry players would need to work hard because the aquaculture industry still faced many problems, said the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry’s director general of aquaculture, Made L Nurdjana.
He said aquaculture had not reached its potential because of a lack of investment and research. Made said he was optimistic the goal was achievable if the House approved the extra money.
Arif Satria, a fisheries expert from the Bogor Institute of Agriculture, said the goal would be very difficult to reach in just one year.
However, he said the target could be reached in five years if the ministry was determined.
“We need lots of breakthroughs to improve the domestic aquaculture sector,” Arif said.
Additional capital, technology, infrastructure and landscape management was needed, he said. Setting guaranteed minimum prices for seafood products was a good idea, Arif said.
The country has yet to realize its full potential in aquaculture. There are 500,000 to 600,000 hectares of fish farms, out of a total potential area of 1.25 million hectares.