Fri, 17 Nov 2000

Technology key to marine resources

JAKARTA (JP): Appropriate technology is badly needed to bridge the gap between the country's unexplored rich marine resources and the desire to uplift fishermen's welfare, State Minister of Research and Technology Muh. A.S. Hikam said on Thursday.

"There is a wide disparity between the fishermen and available technology. We need a more 'down to earth' technology rather than getting stuck in rhetoric in developing our marine resources," he said.

We have to bridge the gap by bringing technology closer to the fishermen and achieving real results, Hikam said, while pointing at the country's poor exploration and management of marine resources and industry.

"I wonder why Indonesia still has to import salt when we have the world's longest shoreline of 88,000 kilometers? We should have become the world's largest salt exporter!" the minister told a media briefing here.

Among the technology that is applicable to the fishermen is the Lestari (Lentera Matahari) solar lamp and Lacuba (Lampu Celup Bawah Air) underwater lamp, he said.

"But the distribution of such equipment must be properly managed. Since such lamps are quite expensive, each can cost around Rp 2 million ... the cooperatives must help the fishermen to obtain such equipment," Hikam added.

In a bid to boost the country's marine industry, the ministry in cooperation with the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, State Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Ministry of Communication will hold the giant Marine Industry Expo 2001 and seminars in Surabaya from Feb. 21 until Feb. 23.

The expo aims at boosting investors in marine industry, which actually has a great market demand.

Data from the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries shows that demand for the year 2004 in the sector of sea and salt water fish is estimated at 6.4 million tons.

"Potential for unexplored oil and gas drilling is estimated at 57.3 barrel up to the year 2004, while sea transport service is predicted to transport around 21.6 million tons in packages and 17.3 million passengers over similar period," said Anjar. S., on the expert staff at the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries.

Another potential marine industry is tourism.

"We have to strive to restore confidence in our country. Without that, no investors will come," Hikam said.

"We project around 11 million marine tourists in 2004. While Thailand already had 8.7 million visitors this year. Why? I think it has something to do with our country's national security," Hikam said.

In an effort to boost fish production, Hikam said various programs have been introduced, such as fish hatcheries and genetic engineering to raise the production of Tuna and Kerapu fish.

In the wake of regional autonomy, Hikam also revealed that a Regional Research Council (DRD) will be set up in the country's 26 provinces.

"Like the National Research Council (DRN), DRD will function as an independent board consisting of technology experts and activists from each region. They will report to the governor.

"The core members of the DRD come from universities. Among the provinces that already have DRD are Central and East Java, Yogyakarta, West Sumatra, Riau and North Maluku," Hikam said.

He said the ministry strived to prove that technology was useful and worthwhile for people.

"Now, our budget is only 0.2 percent of the GDP while the international standard set by UNESCO is a minimum of 1 percent of GDP," Hikam said. (edt)