The Role of Community-Based Surveillance (POKMASWAS) in Combating Illegal Fishing in Indonesia

Author: Didik Agus Suwarsono

Suwarsono, Didik Agus, 2018 The Role of Community-Based Surveillance (POKMASWAS) in Combating Illegal Fishing in Indonesia, Flinders University, College of Science and Engineering

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Illegal fishing is a serious problem for Indonesia due to the significant impacts on ecology, society and the economy. With regard to the ecological aspects, illegal fishing causes declines in fish stocks, destruction of the marine environment and extinction of certain species. From the economic perspective, Indonesia loses US$4 billion annually caused by illegal fishing which is a huge amount. Illegal fishing also triggers social problems such as escalation of conflict, increasing unemployment rates and increasing poverty level in coastal areas. On the other side, efforts to combat illegal fishing face many challenges including the geographical complexity of an archipelagic country with more than 17,000 islands and a large area of Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) in excess of 200 square nautical miles. The Indonesian government had limitations on technology capacity, human resources and facilities (e.g. patrol boats) to conduct surveillance in Indonesian waters. These limitations and challenges should be solved by developing a surveillance system which involves local communities in combating illegal fishing. In this context, community-based surveillance (POKMASWAS) offers an alternative approach to assist the Indonesian government to deal with limitations on combating illegal fishing.

This research demonstrates that the role of POKMSWAS is making a contribution to combating illegal fishing in Indonesia through monitoring and surveillance activities in the Natuna Sea which is one of the vulnerable areas of illegal fishing in Indonesia. This research was conducted by interviewing 23 respondents from government staff and POKMASWAS members in Jakarta, Batam and Natuna to obtain perceptions of the nature of the problem of illegal fishing, including scale and trend, the benefits of POKMASWAS and their role in monitoring and surveillance of IUU. This research focuses on four key issues including (1) describing illegal fishing trends in Indonesia; (2) explaining the role of POKMASWAS in combating illegal fishing; (3) elaborating the performance of POKMASWAS based the perceptions of key stakeholders and (4) developing recommendations to improve the role of POKMASWAS in combating illegal fishing in Indonesia.

The findings of this research show that respondents from a range of stakeholder groups have similar perspectives regarding illegal fishing as a major problem for Indonesia and the Natuna Sea due to the significant ecological, social, economic and political impacts. However, respondents have different perceptions related to illegal fishing trends whether decrease or increase. The results of this study also show that POKMASWAS plays a vital role in combating illegal fishing by collecting information of illegal fishing and reporting to law enforcement and relevant agencies. Information on illegal fishing activities at sea is very useful to assist law enforcement agencies take immediate action including inspection and arresting illegal fishermen and also reducing operational costs for patrolling. However, POKMASWAS also has many limitations regarding their capacity to conduct monitoring and surveillance of illegal fishing. This research recommends some potential strategies to improve the role of community-based surveillance including: (1) involving more fisheries stakeholders in POKMASWAS especially in vulnerable areas of illegal fishing such as the Natuna Sea, the Arafura Sea and the North of Sulawesi Sea; (2) developing empowerment programs and supplying surveillance equipment and facilities to improve POKMASWAS capacity in conducting monitoring and surveillance; (3) updating legal frameworks about POKMASWAS to accommodate monitoring, surveillance and reporting procedures and also the role of local government in supervising programs; (4) developing reporting systems and enhancing coordination of POKMASWAS with relevant agencies;

Keywords: IUU fishing, community-based surveillance (POKMASWAS), community participation, monitoring, surveillance

Subject: Environmental management thesis

Thesis type: Masters
Completed: 2018
School: College of Science and Engineering
Supervisor: Assoc. Prof. Beverley Clarke