Subject: Illegal fishing, climate change real threats

The Jakarta Post

May 16, 2009

Illegal fishing, climate change real threats

by Adianto P. Simamora


Heads of states of the six coral triangle countries expressed concern Friday over depleting marine and coastal resources caused by overfishing and illegal fishing, coupled with pollution and human-induced climate change.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said "unfriendly" fishing and shaky coastal management had depleted coastal and pelagic fish stocks in parts of the coral triangle area.

"It has caused massive losses of mangrove forests and vast degradation of coral reef systems. Now, many of our marine and coastal species are on the brink of extinction," he told the Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries and Food Security (CTI-CFF) Summit.

"Scientists have warned us we have so much to lose if we don't pay attention to the fate of our reefs," he added.

"That's why we are here, to prevent the loss of that unique treasure and to enhance it for the sake of generations to come."

Malaysian Prime Minister Mohd. Najib Tun Abdul Razak, Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Michael Somare, Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Solomon Islands Prime Minister Derek Sikua and Timor Leste President Jose Ramos Horta were also present at the summit.

Yudhoyono said protecting coral reefs and marine resources was also aimed at ensuring food security for humankind in the future.

"Our citizens and citizens of other nations rely on tuna, reef fish, shrimp, seaweed and marine-based tourism for their livelihoods," he said.

"We can and we must increase the productivity of these resources as demand and consumption grows with the growth in population."

Ramos Horta said illegal fishing was the most dangerous practice in depleting marine sources.

"Illegal unreported and unregulated *IUU* fishing is one of the most serious problems facing the management of marine fish stocks at present," he said.

He added developing countries had become the victims of illegal fishing activities that took jobs away from coastal regions and undermined viable market and state revenue.

"Timor-Leste is one of the world's poorest countries and developing nations, and has been a victim of IUU activity since its inception," he said.

For his part, Prime Minister Najib said marine countries needed to enhance their knowledge in managing marine environments.

"It is indeed unfortunate that knowledge of marine countries about oceans is still very limited, and that the development of marine countries often depends on the potential to exploit sustainably the marine resources," he said.

Australian Environment Minister Peter Garrett, who pledged more than US$2 million, including to protect vulnerable marine species, said unsustainable and destructive fishing practices threatened the world's oceans and its communities.

"Our oceans and coasts are already under extreme pressure from climate change, expanding populations, coastal development, unsustainable and destructive fishing practices, marine invasive species, land runoff and marine pollution, and this declaration *CTI* is a call to governments to work together to face this threat," he said.

Activists previously said long-standing illegal fishing, dumping of tailings by mining companies into the sea and poor support for traditional fishermen were the three main problems in facing Indonesia's ocean sector.

The People's Coalition for Equal Fisheries (Kiara) warned of shaky commitments by marine countries to combat illegal fishing, including in Indonesian waters.

Kiara chairman Reza Damanik said Indonesia's fisheries potential had been slashed by 30 to 50 percent per year due to illegal fishing.

Data from the country's fisheries ministry shows the country's fisheries output reached 8.71 million tons last year, a slight drop from the 8.24 million tons recorded in the previous year.

Indonesia exported 895,000 tons of fisheries products in 2008, or a 4 percent increase from the 854,329 tons it exported in 2007.

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