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Fish imports worry Indonesian fishermen
Publication Date : 10-10-2013
Imported fish have stolen the domestic market limelight, causing concern for local fishermen due to weak distribution supervision, say lawmakers.
“We found that because imported fish are available in the domestic market, it is difficult for local fisherman to compete,” Ibnu Multazam, vice chairman of the House of Representatives’ Commission IV overseeing agriculture, fisheries and forestry said after a hearing with representatives from a number of ministries, including the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry.
He said food production centers and fishermen had complained about imported products entering the domestic market. Mackerel, patin fish and prawns were among imported sea products that, he said, occupied the domestic market.
“Most of these products [when imported] are supposedly for industrial [purposes] only. But the imported ones can also be found in traditional markets,” he said, referring to hotels, restaurants and fish-processing plants.
Ibnu said the commission would urge the government to set up one specific council to focus on supervising the distribution of sea products.
Commission IV member Siswono Yudo Husodo criticised the government’s poor coordination in supervising fish distribution.
He said government institutions, including the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry, the Agriculture Ministry and the Home Affairs Ministry, should be involved with distribution supervision.
Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry director general of fish production, marketing and processing Saut Parulian Hutagalung said fish imports were carried out only if local producers were not able to meet national demand, as specified by the 2012 government regulation on self sufficiency of food resilience and climate change.
“This policy applies only to the short-term when local fishermen cannot produce as much as industries need, due to bad weather,” he said.
According to Saut, the country imported 155,000 tonnes of fish, or US$196 million, in the first half of the year. Fish imports amounted to 337,000 tonnes worth $412 million in 2012.
Vietnam and China dominate the imported fish market, according to the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry.
According to ministry data, the import of 30,220,897 fish for consumption, turtles, ornamental fish and prawns in the first half of the year was recommended, while 51,055,013 similar sea creatures were recommended for import throughout last year.