Fri, 12 Dec 2003

West Java fishermen to be relocated from north coast

Yuli Tri Suwarni and Nana Rukmana, The Jakarta Post, Bandung/Cirebon

Starting next year, the West Java administration will gradually relocate thousands of fishermen from the province's north coast areas to southwest Java and east Indonesia, officials said on Thursday.

The relocations are an attempt to improve the fishermen's catches, which have been decreasing yearly.

The small catches are blamed on the dense population of fishermen in north coast areas.

West Java Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Office head Djunaidi said there were tens of thousands of fishermen on the north coast of Java working on 10,900 fishing boats, while in the south there were only 3,100 fishing boats.

He said that better infrastructures, such as roads and electricity, on the north coast prompted fishermen to work there, instead of the south which was less developed.

"Apart from that, the waves in the north are less powerful than those in the south, they only reach between two and six meters high," Djunaidi added.

He said that the relocations were part of national programs carried out by the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries.

The relocations will begin in 2004, targeting only 100 fishermen per year, he said.

Djunaidi said his office would provide 180 large boats with a capacity of 30 tons each for the relocated fishermen in the country's eastern regions and parts of southwest Java, such as Sukabumi regency.

The local administration has also proposed that the central government develop the Pelabuhan Ratu fishing port in Sukabumi so that local fishermen can directly export their fish, he added.

Meanwhile, West Java Governor Danny Setiawan promised to support plans to relocate fishermen and their families, originally from Indramayu regency, who had been evicted by the Jakarta administration.

"We will assist them with funds from our budget but the Indramayu regent will deal with the matter," he said on Wednesday.

While he did not specify the amount of assistance West Java would provide, he said around Rp 30 billion (US$3.5 million) was needed to relocate at least 223 families.

The money will jointly be provided by the central government and the West Java administration, Danny added.