By Megan Moews-Asher
Indonesia’s Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries (MMAF) in July 2013 tasked 13 select individuals across its numerous directorates, along with NGO, university, and contracting representatives, with development of a fisheries management plan (known as an “RPP” in Indonesia) for the Arafura Sea by the end of the year. In November 2013, to this team of dedicated experts toward the development of the Arafura Sea RPP, Dr. Rusty Brainard and Megan Moews-Asher of the PIFSC Coral Reef Ecosystem Division (CRED) and Dr. Robert Pomeroy of Connecticut Sea Grant, in partnership with and largely funded by the U. S. Agency for International Development (USAID), provided technical assistance on a planning process for an ecosystem approach to fisheries management (EAFM). The Arafura Sea fisheries management area, known to MMAF as WPP-718, is 1 of 11 large WPPs (a fisheries management area is called a “WPP” in Indonesia) that together cover all of the national waters of Indonesia. In a race against time, this prototype RPP was finalized by December 2013 and received a ministerial decree on February 18, 2014.
Fast-forward to today, and MMAF aims to have similar EAFM-based plans for the remaining 10 WPPs across Indonesia prepared for ministerial decree by July 2014. The deadline has turned out to be extremely challenging, and an RPP team of Indonesians (some of whom were a part of the Arafura Sea team) from the Directorate of Fisheries Resources (SDI) of MMAF’s Directorate General of Capture Fisheries, Bogor Agricultural University, the USAID-funded Indonesia Marine and Climate Support Project, and the Marine Protected Areas Governance Program has been working tirelessly to meet it. The team developed drafts based on the outline from the Arafura Sea RPP and inputs on key threats and issues from Indonesia’s National and Regional Forums for Coordination of Management and Utilization of Fish Resources (FKPPS), which are made up of stakeholders from national, provincial, and district-level governments in addition to some NGO, university, and fisheries representatives.
During the period of June 1–13, Brainard and Moews-Asher, joined part of the time by Dr. Supin Wongbusarakum (CRED’s new program manager and a former senior social scientist for The Nature Conservancy’s international program), Dr. Rudolf Hermes of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)Bay of Bengal Large Marine Ecosystem (BOBLME) Project, and Jason Philibotte of NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program, traveled to Palu in Central Sulawesi and Bogor, Bandung, and Banten, all in Java, with the RPP team to socialize EAFM to members of the Regional FKPPS for 2–4 WPPs per workshop and provided input toward the draft RPPs for all 11 of Indonesia’s WPPs. The provision of technical support for this SDI-led effort reflects one of NOAA’s major activities in partnership with USAID Indonesia and in response to a request for EAFM socialization and RPP technical assistance by the Director General of Capture Fisheries, Dr. Gellwyn Jusuf.
Events at each location began the night before the workshops began, with festive opening ceremonies that included traditional dance, opening remarks from high-ranking officials, and a showing of the high-profile launch of the Arafura Sea RPP when it received ministerial decree. The following day at each location, Brainard and Moews-Asher (joined by Dr. Hermes in Bandung) presented background on their efforts in the region, what an EAFM is, the key principles of EAFM, why it is advantageous to use an EAFM, a case study demonstrating the long-term U.S. transition toward an EAFM and lessons learned, and how to implement an EAFM. As part of the latter presentation, the group reviewed the 5-step EAFM planning process developed by NOAA, FAO, BOBLME, and the U.S. Coral Triangle Initiative’s Coral Triangle Support Partnership and Program Integrator (PI) from the recently published Essential EAFM curriculum. In addition, they presented a conceptual, WPP-scale governance framework to assist participants in thinking about how to vertically integrate management from national to provincial to district and community scales, including consideration of some sort of fisheries ecosystem management council and advisory groups. The participants then discussed whether such a structure could work for their WPPs or how they could potentially modify it to meet their needs. Although the first day of each workshop was an all-day affair, MMAF and the FKPPS stakeholders began discussion and modification of their draft RPPs at night, often with everyone working until as late as 11 p.m. On the third day of each workshop, the RPPs were finalized, and the RPP team and other MMAF representatives presented information on the ministerial decree for the RPPs, concerns with migratory fishermen, and policy and scientific information (as well as data needs)—laying the foundation for the management efforts.
Results: Indonesia is taking ambitious steps toward an EAFM for sustainable management of its fisheries and marine resources to meet its goals for food security, livelihoods, economic development, and biodiversity conservation. Draft RPPs were finalized for all 10 remaining WPPs during the 4 workshops in Palu, Bogor, Bandung, and Banten, with plans to obtain ministerial decree and provide them to the Presidential Working Group by July 2014. In addition, there has been a noticeable and positive transition in MMAF’s stance on an EAFM, as demonstrated in each of the RPPs and in daily discussions with the RPP team and participants. Prior to the concerted efforts by the NOAA EAFM team and partners to teach and integrate EAFM into efforts throughout the Coral Triangle, EAFM was embraced only in part by MMAF staff. Today, Indonesia’s MMAF frequently and proudly speaks about their efforts to adopt an EAFM and is working to base much of their fisheries management planning on an EAFM, as demonstrated by the inclusion of numerous points and citations from the EAFM resource materials and publications in their draft plans. Furthermore, through the multiple FKPPS meetings (both national and regional) as well as other stakeholder meetings that MMAF sponsored to obtain input for the drafting of the RPPs, Indonesia has begun to move toward increased stakeholder engagement and comanagement.
On account of the extremely tight deadlines that SDI faces in finalizing the RPPs for all 11 WPPs, the RPP team was unable to bring all key stakeholders to the table prior to the drafting of the RPPs, and so SDI director Dr. Toni Ruchimat, the RPP team, and Dr. Jusuf anticipate further stakeholder engagement as the plans unfold in each of the WPPs. They have expressed that the plans should act as “living documents” so that they can engage in “adaptive management,” a key principle of an EAFM. Although MMAF realizes that there is still a great deal of work to be done, these are exciting times as Indonesia makes a fundamental shift toward an EAFM!
Going forward, the NOAA EAFM team has been asked by USAID and MMAF to continue supporting these efforts as SDI moves toward RPP implementation and incorporates achievable monitoring and evaluation into their plans. This fall, the team also will be working closely with the FAO and BOBLME to conduct the comprehensive training course, “Essential EAFM,” which they developed together with the CTSP and PI as well as IMA International and the Asia Pacific Fisheries Commission, to help train fisheries managers and institutionalize the training into the National Training Directorate of Indonesia. In addition, the EAFM team (working closely with other NOAA and external partners) will be instrumental in helping Indonesia obtain information on climatology data, night light fishing, and climate and ocean change predictions to assist with sustainable fisheries management in each of the WPPs.