Indonesia Sustainable Development News Digest

Starling Resource produces a bi-weekly Indonesia Sustainable Development News Digest email for circulation to a broader cohort of practitioners, funders, and experts. The purpose of the digest is to present readers with a brief, easily digestible summary of significant, recent news items, reports, and papers relevant to conservation, sustainable development, and the environment in Indonesia, compiled from domestic Indonesian and international media sources. The digest is produced once every two weeks throughout the year. If you are interested in receiving the digest, please let us know by email at or subscribe here

News Digest
2017-2: 10 January 2017

Marine & Fisheries

Ministerial Decree on human rights abuse in fisheries issued
—Reiny Dwinanda Republika 2017-01-24
The Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries has issued Ministerial Decree No. 2 (2017), creating a human rights certification mechanism for fishing boats operating in Indonesia, and requiring all fishery companies to have an adequate insurance scheme, standard minimum wage, and clear working hours for fishermen and port workers.

 Kadin critizes fishery policies for threatening livelihoods of nearly 1 million people
—Jakarta Post 2017-01-18
Regulations mandating gillnet fishing instead of seine trawl fishing (Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries Regulation No. 71/2016) threatens the livelihoods of nearly a million fisherfolk, according to Wajan Sudjana, Vice Chairman of the Jakarta Chapter of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin).  Sudjana said that 48,000 fishing boats in four provinces have been idled since the new regulation went into effect on 1 January 2017, affecting around 960,000 fisherfolk and another 5 million workers in fisheries industry.

Investing in fisheries management improves fish populations
—Science Daily 2016-12-19
A recent study by researchers at the University of Washington and California Environmental Associates published in (US) Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences identifies three out of 13 management attributes as particularly influential: extensiveness of stock assessments, strength of fishing limits, and strength of enforcement programs. “Monetary subsidies to fishing fleets sometimes result in too many boats chasing too few fish. If these funds were instead directed into key components of fisheries management systems, that would improve the status of fish populations” said the lead author of the study.  A fishery management index developed by the authors places Indonesia 23rd of 28 countries surveyed.

ISSF claims management of many tuna stocks falls short of MSC standards
—Undercurrent News 2017-01-26
Only 11 of 19 major commercial tuna stocks are being managed to avoid overfishing and restore depleted fish populations, according to a report published by the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF). This is in part because the majority (16) of them are not protected by well-defined harvest control rules. Authored by MSC, the report has been updated twice since first published in 2013.

DNA barcoding reveals widespread seafood mislabelling in Los Angeles restaurants
—Demian A. Willette et al, Conservation Biology 2017-01-11
Testing using DNA barcoding found that sushi restaurants in Los Angeles had a consistently high level of mislabelling (47%) from 2012 to 2015.  Menu-listed halibut, red snapper, yellowfin tuna, and yellowtail had high occurrences of mislabelling. The study also reported frequent (42%) mislabelling of sushi-grade fish from high-end grocers.

China pledges to shrink its fishing fleet by 20,000 vessels
—Louis Harkell Undercurrent News 2017-01-27
According to a document published by the Fisheries Department of China’s Ministry of Agriculture, China’s government plans to reduce its fleet of medium- and large-sized vessels by 8,300, and its total fishing fleet by 20,000 vessels, in response to “extensive problems due to exploitation of fisheries resources.” “Starting from quarter 3, quarter 4 of last year, we noticed a round of tightening of policy enforcement” due to high profile illegal fishing incidents, said Robert Li, policy advisor for Greenpeace China.

In Chesapeake Bay’s changing ecosystem, blue crab is king
—Sarah Fearing 2017-01-26
Over the last three decades, water temperatures in the Chesapeake Bay have increased about 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 ?F). Although many Chesapeake Bay creatures could be negatively affected, Virginia’s trademark blue crab is well-equipped to deal with warming water temperatures and changes in its habitat, experts say.

Forestry & Land Use

Choppers sent to fight forest fires in Riau, Kalimantan
—Rizal Harahap and Severianus Endi The Jakarta Post 2017-01-14
The central government will deploy helicopters to Riau and Kalimantan to help local administrations fight forest fires. Hot spots have been detected in some Riau regencies, including in Rokan Hulu, Rokan Hilir, Siak and Meranti Island, though the province has yet to issue an emergency alert.  Officials also reported seven hot spots in four regencies West Kalimantan. Climatologists have warned that the decrease in rainfall, followed by lower humidity and higher temperatures in West Kalimantan would further increase the potential for forest fires in the province.

South Sumatra braces for new waves of forest fires
—Reiny Dwinande Republika 2017-01-24
The government announced several steps to prevent forest and plantation fires including provision of budget, law enforcement and mobilization of human resources. Coordinating Minister for Law, Security and Political Affairs, Wiranto, encouraged the Ministry of Home Affairs to revise regulation No 21/2011 on regional budgets to allow use of budget funds for preventive measures, not only in a state of emergency.  Wiranto also asked the Ministry of Finance and the National Development Planning Board (Bappenas) to allocate special budget for the preventive measures.

Activists slam Indonesia's Asia Pulp and Paper mill for environmental damage
—The Straits Times (AFP) 2017-01-19
Green groups said Thursday that a new $3 billion mill belonging to Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) – one of the world’s largest – was sourcing raw materials mostly from trees grown on drained peatlands. About three-quarters of the plantations supplying APP's mill are on peatlands, the groups said.  APP said in a statement that its pulpwood suppliers were bound by its conservation policies.

 WWF and Greenpeace break with Indonesia’s pulp and paper giant
—Jeremy Hance, The Guardian 2016-12-15
Construction of a three km canal in a peat forest on Pedang island off the east coast of Sumatra has led Greenpeace and WWF to suspend their partnerships with Riau Andalan Pulp and Paper (Rapp), a subsidiary of Asia Pacific Resources International (APRIL).  The drainage canal flouted April’s sustainability standards and violated government regulations, the NGOs said.

Indonesian government challenges green NGO over freedom of information request
—Philip Jacobson, Mongabay 2017-01-17
Forest Watch Indonesia is trying to force the Ministry of Land and Spatial Planning to release maps of oil palm companies’ concessions, which NGO’s claim is critical to effectively monitor the industry. The Ministry challenging the request in the Indonesian Supreme Court, arguing that releasing permit holders’ names would be a violation of privacy.

Korean company bans forest clearing for Indonesia palm oil concessions
—Genevieve Belmaker Mongabay 2017-01-12
South Korean firm Korindo promised to examine 75,000 ha of land concessions in Papua and West Papua, after a report by the environmental organization Mighty Earth alleging that Korindo had caused 30,000 ha of deforestation and an estimated 894 fire hotspots since 2013.  Palm oil traders Wilmar and Musim Mas stopped sourcing from Korindo due to multiple violations of their sustainability policies.

Indonesia's Palm Oil Export Tax at USD $18/Ton in February 2017
—Indonesia-Investments 2017-01-27
Indonesia set the export tax for its CPO shipments at USD $18 per metric ton for February 2017, up from USD $3 per metric ton in January. Indonesia's benchmark February price was set at USD $815.5 per ton, rising further above the USD $750 per ton tax threshold.

How local elites earn money from burning land in Indonesia
—Alice Cuddy, Mongabay 2017-01-16
According to a study of four Riau districts by scientists at the Center for International Forestry Research, the University of Riau, and Bogor Agricultural University, District-level elites are involved in managing transactions and organizing farmers who engage in burning. Land cleared by fire is ready for immediate oil palm planting so it carries a higher price (US$856/ha) than land cleared by cut-and-slash methods ($655/ha). Land burned and planted with oil palm has a reported value of $3,800/ha.

Permits to grow Sugarcane are used to create oil palm plantations
—Kompas (Indonesian) 2017-01-18
Corporations are abusing permits to convert land to other land uses (such as growing sugar cane) to avoid sanctions against clearing natural forest.  Once the land has been cleared, the sugarcane growing area becomes an oil palm plantation. The article urged the Ministry of the Environment and Forestry to do a better job evaluating applications for permits to convert forest land for other uses.

Norway launches $400 million fund to stop tropical deforestation and boost farming
—World Economic Forum 2017-01-18
Norway is establishing a new fund to kick-start investments in deforestation-free agriculture in countries working to reduce forest and peat degradation.  The new fund would work in partnership with the Global Environmental Facility (GEF), UN Environment Program (UNEP), Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH), major food companies, and environmental NGOs, and aims to protect over 5 million ha of forests and peatlands by 2020.

HSBC financing tied to palm oil deforestation and community rights violations
—John C. Cannon  Mongabay 2017-01-18
Financing by the British bank HSBC has helped support unsustainable clearing of forests for oil palm plantations in Indonesia, Greenpeace said.  The report said that since 2012, HSBC has helped arrange US$16.3 billion in financing for six companies which illegally cleared forests, planted oil palm on carbon-rich peatlands, and failed to secure the support of local communities for their operations.

Southeast Asia’s biodiversity under greatest threat
—Mike Gaworecki Mongabay 2017-01-12
A new study in Ecosphere, found that Southeast Asia lost 14.5% of its forests over the past 15 year, are some of the highest deforestation rates anywhere on Earth.  The region also has the highest rate of mining in the tropics and several hydropower dams under construction, while consumption of species for traditional medicine is also pronounced. The study concludes that the region “may be under some of the greatest levels of biotic threat.”

Climate Change & Pollution

Earth sets temperature record for the third straight year
—Justin Gillis, New York Times 2017-01-18
2016 was the hottest year on record, the first time in the modern era that average global temperatures have set new records for three years.  NASA estimated warming at more than 0.5° F., the largest three-year temperature increase since record-keeping began in 1880. Heat extremes were most intense in the arctic, where autumn temperatures were 20-30 °F above normal.

New report suggests Earth’s climate could be more sensitive than previously thought
—Ian Johnston, The Independent 2017-01-10
A paper by an international team of climate experts suggests that climatic response to increased concentrations of greenhouse gases (GHG) may be non-linear, and that the range of likely temperature increase may be 4.78° to 7.36° C., levels that may be incompatible with continued human civilization.

 French bank backs out of financing expansion of Indonesian coal-fired power station
—Isabel Esterman Mongabay 2017-01-04
The French bank Société Générale confirmed that it will not provide loans for the $4 billion expansion of Tanjung Jati B-2 coal plant in Central Java, Indonesia, Friends of the Earth France announced.  The expansion has been the target of sustained protests by environmental groups who say the plant pollutes water, air and crops, threatening the health and livelihoods of the surrounding communities.

Conservation & Protected Areas

Politician’s son named suspect in illegal land clearing in Leuser Ecosystem
—Junaidi Hanafiah Mongabay 2017-01-26
Teuku Popon Rizal, the son of Teuku Zulhelmi, head of the local legislature in South Aceh Regency, has been named a suspect in a case of illegal land clearing in the Leuser Ecosystem. Rizal reportedly admitted ordering the land clearance in order to establish an oil palm plantation, but claimed he did not know the area was protected.

Raja Ampat gears up to attract more tourists to Misool Island
—Jakarta Post 2017-01-13
The Raja Ampat Tourism Agency has revealed plans to manage the jellyfish lake at Misool Island to increase the number of visitors this year.  The local administration also plans to build an airport in Misool and increase public transport from Waisai, Raja Ampat’s capital. Small airlines, such as Susi Air, could begin arriving on the south Raja Ampat island by the end of 2017.

Outgoing West Papua Governor supports the creation of a new Southwest Papua Province
—Tribun Lampung (Indonesian) 2017-01-17
In a recent speech, outgoing West Papua Governor, Abraham Octavianus Atuturi said he supported a new autonomous Southwest Papua Province comprised of Sorong Municipality and the regencies of Sorong, South Sorong, Maybrat and Tambrauw.  Atururi said Raja Ampat Regency would become a separate special island tourism province. Officials from the Ministry of the Interior separately noted that establishing new autonomous regions could take three to five years.

Palau leader wants to cut the number of tourists visiting by making it more expensive
—BBC 2017-01-10
President Tommy Remengesau, hoping to rebrand Palau as a luxury destination, is proposing a new law that would allow only five-star hotel developments, with tax breaks for high-end investors. Palau relies heavily on tourism, but there is increasing concern about over-crowding, damaging coral reefs and disturbing wildlife, Radio New Zealand International reported.

Raja Ampat Resort initiates donation program to protect marine life
—Jessicha Valentina, Jakarta Post 2017-01-17
Resort and conservation center Misool Eco Resort in Raja Ampat, West Papua, announced that it will make a US$50 donation to the non-profit Misool Baseftin on behalf of each guest visiting the resort.  The donations will be used to help protect reef systems and marine life in the 1220 km2 Southeast Misool Marine Protected Area (MPA). The resort expects to generate US$25,000 per year from the donations.

Political Affairs

Indonesia adds more than 1,100 to official tally of its islands
—M. Ambari Mongabay 12 January 2017-01-28
Indonesia has raised the official count of its islands from 13,466 to 14,572, according to the Geospatial Information Agency.  The new claim is intended to solidify Indonesian claim to sovereignty over parts of the archipelago at a time when competing claims over marine islands and islets have intensified in Southeast Asia.

Patrialis Akbar Dismissed From Constitutional Court
— Yustinus Paat & Eko Prasetyo The Jakarta Globe 2017-01-28
The Constitutional Court has dismissed Patrialis Akbar for his alleged graft. National antigraft agency KPK named Patrialis a suspect on Thursday (26/01), following his arrest a day earlier.  Patrialis’ arrest further damages the reputation of the court, following on the conviction and lifetime imprisonment of former justice Akil Mochtar in 2014 for accepting bribes in exchange for favourable rulings in election disputes.


Indonesia eases export ban on nickel ore, bauxite
—Wilda Asmarini and Bernadette Christina Munthe Reuters 2017-01-12
Indonesia introduced a sweeping policy shift that will allow exports of nickel ore and other mineral concentrates. The new policy is set to upset those that have invested in in-country smelting technology, while other producers stand to benefit.  "Regional economies will grow, (and) mining areas that died because of the export ban can grow again," Antam CEO Tedy Badrujaman told Reuters.

World Bank loans support high-carbon development in Indonesia
—Isabel Esterman Mongabay 2016-01-27
World Bank loans create subsidies for coal, gas and oil projects, and support coal-fired power plants in sensitive forest areas in Indonesia, according to a report by the non-profit Bank Information Center (BIC).  The report said these investments contradicted the Bank’s Climate Change Action Plan, which calls for funds to be used to support the transition to a low-carbon economy.

Aid in reverse: how poor countries develop rich countries
—Jason Hickel The Guarian 2017-01-14
New research shows that developing countries send trillions of dollars more to the west than the other way around. In 2012, developing countries received a total of $1.3tn in aid, investment, and income from abroad, while $3.3tn flowed out of them. The outflow includes interest payments ($4.2tn since 1980) and repatriated investment income, as well through unrecorded capital flight estimated at $13.4tn since 1980.

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