Tue, 15 Aug 2000

New fisheries ministry urged for new Cabinet

JAKARTA (JP): The Indonesian Fisheries Community on Monday urged President Abdurrahman Wahid to set up a ministry in charge of sea and inland fisheries development in the new Cabinet which he is to announce early next week.

"A ministry in charge of sea and inland fisheries will allow for the design of a well-integrated policy to develop this sector in a sustainable manner into a leading export industry," Sutara Martadisastra, chairman of the community, said in a statement.

This, according to Sutara, is also in line with President Abdurrahman's recent policy statement that singled out fishing as one of the locomotives to drive economic recovery.

Fishing now comes under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Marine Resource Exploration and Fisheries.

He added that in this vast archipelagic country fishing is indeed one of the most promising sectors that can help lead the nation out of its current economic crisis.

The community said that Indonesian fishing exports averaged US$2 billion a year over the last two years, and expanding exports to as much as $10 billion a year within three to five years was not overly ambitious plan.

"But this sector should be supported by a well-integrated policy covering both sea and inland fisheries, together with processing, so as to make this industry highly efficient and competitive," Sutara said.

Moreover, he added, the industry also contributes greatly to enhancing food security and is highly labor intensive.

Not only fishing companies but also millions of fishermen throughout the country are expecting a conducive development policy from the new Cabinet, Sutara said.