INDONESIA - Despite the looming, potentially catastrophic threat posed by depleted oceans, the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries plans to increase fish production nationwide to 20.05 million tons in 2014, up from 17.49 million tons this year.
Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Sharif Cicip Sutardjo said on Friday that the demand for fish products both domestic and international was growing significantly every year and that Indonesia's fish industry had yet to meet that demand.
"Indonesia has potential in its fisheries, especially in the aquaculture sector. We just need to develop our skill and technology to be able to lead the market," he said on the sidelines of a national meeting held by the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin).
The meeting focused on the cooperation between the government and Kadin on an economic development policy programme to accelerate regional investment.
Cicip added that in 2014, the government planned to produce 6.08 million tons of sea fish, 13.97 million tons of products from aquaculture fisheries and 3.30 million tons of salted fish.
According to data from the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry, last year Indonesia caught 5.81 million tons of sea fish, an increase from 5.41 million tons in 2011 and 5.38 million tons in 2010.
Meanwhile, the production of aquaculture fisheries in 2012 reached 9.45 million tons, up from 6.98 million tons in the previous year and from 6.28 million tons in 2010.
"We catch fewer fish from the sea, such as tuna and cod, than we produce through aquaculture, like shrimp," Cicip said, adding that climate change and natural disasters were driving sea fish scarcity.
He added that aquaculture had become the backbone of the fisheries sector, in supplying both the domestic and international markets.
According to data from the ministry, shrimp production in 2012 accounted for 36.7 per cent or US$723.6 million (S$898 million) of total fisheries exports. The main destinations for shrimp exports include the United States, Japan, China and European countries.
Cicip said that Indonesia had benefited during the global shrimp supply crisis, which caused the price to soar by up to 50 per cent in the international market.
Meanwhile, Yudi Heru, a member of Kadin's permanent committee on maritime affairs and fisheries, said that businessmen and domestic investors often had difficulties obtaining permits for fisheries production.
He added that the government had yet to provide a clear regulation for the businessmen regarding directly exporting the fishery products or to process the products first before exporting them.