This month has seen a myriad of oceans activities in Indonesia - Greenpeace’s newest campaign to defend our oceans. Our flagship the Rainbow Warrior has been documenting underwater life and fishing activities in the Banda sea as part of our Southeast Asia Defending our Oceans tour. This week I also joined a less glamorous but important team in Jakarta for a government-organised workshop called: Road to sustainable fishing in Eastern Indonesia.
This road is not an insignificant one - Eastern Indonesia’s seas are one of the most biodiverse, but experts also say the country’s coral reefs as among the world’s most threatened biodiversity hotspots, at risk from overfishing, pollution and climate change.
There are flashes of hope and inspiration though. At the workshop there was a focus on sustainable fishing methods such as pole and line and handline to catch tuna. Many international tuna buyers also explained their commitments to sustainable fishing and their interest in helping Indonesia better manage its fisheries in return for sustainable products. Thee buyers should start by reserving best fishing areas for sustainable small-scale boats and ensuring large-scale destructive fishing is removed to ensure sustainability.
This morning the Rainbow Warrior also arrived in Bali to colorful local ceremonies as its crew were welcomed in style by a local rock band Navicula singing songs about the environment. Afterwards 30 local environmental groups joined us for an afternoon of discussions about a joint vision for healthy oceans in Indonesia 2025. A coalition of environmental and fishermen groups is needed to work together to achieve this vision, which includes the following goals:
1. Implementing sustainable development through open and equal process by engaging coastal communities in every plan and decision making to ensure coastal and oceans vital ecosystems are protected from destruction and pollution as well as living resources, local livelihoods, food availability, local rights, local culture and local wisdom are not destroyed, including commitment to implement community based coastal and marine conservation without debt.
2. Ensuring that all Indonesian traditional and small scale fishermen, including women in fisheries in Indonesia, are acknowledged for and get constitutional rights and obtain reasonable assurance on the fair fish price as well as ensuring all fisheries workers on fishing boats Indonesia (KII) and foreign fishing vessels (KIA) earn a decent wage, have an appropriate working environment, social security, wide access to education for their children and safety in fishing and life insurance.
3. Building and strengthening the spirit and solidarity in global oceans protection and responsible fisheries management at local, national, regional and international level, including establishing 40% of the oceans as marine reserves in the international waters.
On this occasion, Greenpeace also launched a report “Oceans in the Balance, Indonesia in Focus”, highlighting the marine treasures in Indonesia and threats to the Indonesian marine ecosystem, while also offering concrete solutions on how to defend the ocean.
I look forward to this strengthened network of oceans defenders taking forward this most important task of rescuing Indonesia’s seas and with it it’s coastal communities. One thing also became clear - with what we have here and with what is at stake, Indonesia needs to take a lead in ending overfishing, creating a network of marine reserves in the high seas and last but no least, stopping dangerous climate change if our oceans are to survive.