As the largest archipelago in the world, both in size and population, Indonesia highly relies on marine resources for food, livelihood, and cultural values. Indonesia's Ocean is home to the largest coral reefs and mangroves in the world and is one of the largest seafood producers in the world. Coastal communities are the front lines of Indonesia's marine and fisheries sector, as approximately 80% of the seafood supply is produced by the small-scale fisheries sector.
Disruptions in the marine and fisheries sector will affect millions of livelihoods, food security, and Indonesia's economy. COVID-19 is not the sole disruption. In the future, there will be many disruptions and other crises, including the global threat of climate change, such as sea-level rise up to 0.46 meters which could result in the loss of islands and coastal communities' place of residence and degradation of coral reefs by up to 99% which could result in the loss of fish habitat and tourist attractions, threatening food security and the livelihood of coastal communities.
Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Marine and Fisheries Sector
The large-scale social restrictions imposed in some areas to halt the virus transmission have disrupted seafood production, including fishing and cultivation. For example, fishermen in North Jakarta cannot catch fish, which certainly affects their income.
Aside from production, the distribution and marketing of seafood have also experienced delays. Most of the traditional markets have been shut to avoid face-to-face interaction. The closure of restaurants and hotels as well as social restrictions in export destination countries resulted in a decreasing demand for seafood commodities. In addition, most marine commodities do not have a long shelf life, hence a significant portion ends up wasted. With an abundant supply and short shelf life, the price of seafood commodities has dropped by 50%, reducing the income for fishermen.
In addition to seafood commodities, marine tourism activities are also affected. Bali as one of Indonesia's main marine tourism destinations has experienced a decline in accommodation bookings by up to 60-80%. As a result, many small and medium scale tourism entrepreneurs have experienced a sharp decline in income.
By understanding the important role of the marine and fisheries sector for food supply, community income, and sustaining the country's economy, the marine and fisheries sector requires a system transformation that can create resilience, especially during a crisis. This pandemic provides an opportunity to improve the current system and change it with a more sustainable approach for building a more resilient marine and fisheries sector (Build Back Better).
1. Reducing emissions produced by the marine and fisheries activities
Apart from being the largest source of emissions in capture fisheries, fuel also incurs the largest operational costs. Up to 60% of large-scale fishing industry expenditures and up to 30-50% of traditional fishermen expenditures are spent on fuel. Therefore, fuel consumption can be optimized, among others by reducing the speed of the boat, keeping the hull and propeller free of debris, and reducing cruising time. In tropical areas, fuel consumption can increase by 7%/month if the hull is not kept clean. In addition, installing a fish finder can reduce cruising time, thereby reducing fuel consumption. Fuel can also be replaced with alternative resources such as liquefied natural gas, wind power, and solar energy to reduce emissions. In 2019, the Ministry of Research, Technology, and Higher Education tested the installation of the 'Dual Fuel Diesel Converter Kit' for ships above 30GT, which allows combining of diesel with gas with a potential saving of up to 35%. In addition, fishermen on the North Coast of Java have installed solar panels to produce electricity for lighting at sea. The prototype of a solar-powered outboard motor engine has also been tested.
2. Financial incentives for improving the governance of coastal resources
Fiscal incentives can be given to areas that have successfully carried out the conservation and sustainable management of coastal resources. In practical terms, incentives can be given to Marine Conservation Areas (KKPL) based on the criteria for Evaluating the Management. Effectiveness of Aquatic, Coastal, and Small Island Conservation Areas (E-KKP3K). This incentive can encourage managers to further improve the management of the area while providing funds for areas and communities that have met specific management criteria.
3. Digital innovation to help produce and distribute seafood
In addition, innovations in the form of digital markets, containing information about the types and prices of fish, are key innovations to connect producers/sellers with buyers. The digital market not only expands market coverage but also reduces food loss and waste due to the short shelf life of seafood. Nowadays, a number of digital start-ups connect consumers to seafood supply through an application, both for the domestic market i.e. connecting local fishermen/cultivators directly to consumers in big cities or connecting them with the export market.
4. Using economic valuations as an instrument for managing coastal and marine ecosystems
Healthy coastal and marine ecosystems are key to the marine biota food chain and are an attraction for marine tourism. Economic valuation, or calculating the economic value of environmental services in coastal ecosystems, can be an instrument for managing coastal and marine ecosystems. A practical application is using valuation to determine the ticket price of admission to marine tourism locations.. By considering environmental services, managers can determine tariff increases as implemented in national parks in the Netherlands and can determine visitor quotas per period. In addition, the valuation also produces a cost and benefit analysis in evaluating the allocation of coastal areas and serves as an input for the Marine Coastal Small Island Zoning Plan.
Resilience in the marine and fisheries sector needs to be established because any disruption could impact millions of livelihoods, food security, and the economy. We must not miss the opportunity to direct post-epidemic recovery for economic growth, food security, and the sustainable management of the sea and resources.