Copyright: Marbun, Saiful
Copyright: Marbun, Saiful
Successive Indonesian governments have expressed their commitment to increasing food security with a major focus on increased exploitation of marine resources. In 2011, the then Indonesian Minister for Marine Affairs and Fisheries (MMAF), Syarif Cicip Sutardjo, announced plans to boost fisheries industrialisation efforts through a new policy aimed at increasing Indonesia’s fisheries production in aquaculture, capture fisheries and fish processing. The government highlighted its intention to use industrialisation to improve the welfare of its poorest people, many of whom reside in coastal areas and depend on fisheries for their livelihoods. However, the policy announcement came just one year after the government’s own scientific bodies (the National Committee for Fish Stock Assessment) publically acknowledged mounting evidence that the nation's waters were overfished. In order to counter the potentially negative impacts of fisheries industrialisation, the government announced plans to use the emerging concept of a Blue Economy in 2012, with its focus on value-added industries and sustainability, to balance industrialisation efforts. However, while reports on the policies from government and media are abundant and available, they primarily focus on catch increases. Reports investigating the impacts of these policy changes on the poorest workers and communities are limited. This research investigates the impacts of the implementation of marine and fisheries industrialisation policy and Blue Economy concepts on fishers, fish processors and seaweed famers in Cilacap and Nusa Penida – occupational groups and locations that were explicitly targeted by government for piloting the new policies. Detailed interviews were analysed to report the socio-economic conditions and personal perspectives of tuna fishers, fish processes and seaweed farmers three years after policy introduction. The workers’ knowledge of the policies, their experience and their aspirations for the future were explored using face-to-face interviews in late 2014. Findings indicate the policies have not successfully reached many of these workers and a number of performance indicators relating to their socio-economic circumstances have not yet been achieved. Emerging from this research with frontline workers are recommendations, identified opportunities and threats from current experience. These issues have significant implications for improving the experience and performance of blue economy policies in Indonesia and elsewhere.