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 – 12: 6 June 2017

Marine & Fisheries

Ministry responds to Rokmin Dahuri’s claim of unreasonable 12.5 million ton MSY
— Feby Novalius, Okezone, 19 June 2017
— M. Ambari, Mongabay, 21 June 2017 
Former Minister of Marine Affairs and Fisheries; Rokhmin Dahuri claimed the 12.5 million ton of Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) in 2016 was unreasonable and not consulted with authorized agencies such as Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), National Commission on Fish Stock Assessment (Kajiskan) and Human Resources Research Institute (BRSDM) Marine and Fisheries. Responding to the claim on Monday 19 June 2017, Zulficar Mochtar, the head of BRSDM, stated the figure has been discussed and agreed upon by the Commission and recommended to the Minister as the latest potential figures. He added “The estimation was done with cooperation from competent and authorized agencies employing scientific methodology for its data collection and analysis”. The head of Kajiskan, Indra Jaya also dismissed the Dahuri's claims stating the 12.5 million tons figure is the result of fish stock assessment using a well-established methodology. |

Indonesia in UN spotlight over plastic marine debris
— Arif Gunawan S, The Jakarta Post, 7 June 2017
Plastic debris was in the spotlight at the UN’s first Ocean Conference.  Indonesia was put in an awkward position as vice president of the conference and one of the largest sources of ocean plastics. “Maritime plastic debris caused US $1.2 billion in losses in the fisheries, shipping, tourism and insurance business” said Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister Luhut Pandjaitan in a press statement. “2/3rds of the world’s plastic waste comes from the South Asia region” Said Luhut. The Summit Conference on Plastic Debris will be launched in Bali in September.

Indonesian Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Affairs successfully breed Blue Swimming Crab
— Razi Rahman, Antara News, 11 June 2017 
Ministry of Marine Affaires and Fisheries successfully bred blue swimming crab (BSC) as part of an initiative to meet increasing demand, primarily from USA. “This effort also aims to secure the BSC natural fish stock” said Slamet Soebjakto, General Director of Aquaculture, Ministry of Marines Affairs and Forestry. There is growing concern about declining BSC stocks which increasingly require attention and action. Data from the Indonesian Statistic Bureau estimate 2015 BSC exports at 29,028 tons with a value of 321,842 USD.

Susi Pudjianti wins Seafood Champion Award
— Tempo, 7 June 2017 
Marine and Fishery Minister Susi Pudjiastuti wins Seafood Champion Award at the Seaweb Seafood Summit held on June 5-7 in Seattle, Washington, the United States. The Indonesian Ministry of Marin Affairs and Fisheries (MMAF) stated in a press release today that Susi won the leadership category for her courage in combating illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing by foreign and local vessels in Indonesia. Also cited was the minister’s role in banning unsustainable fishing gear and addressing labor issues.

Indonesia to Ask UN Support to Categorize Illegal Fishing as Transnational Crime
— Jakarta Globe, 7 June 2017  
Maritime and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti said on Saturday, 6 June 2017 that she will ask the United Nations to support efforts to categorize illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing as a transnational crime. “Peter Thomson, president of the UN General Assembly, has helped to coordinate and facilitate a side event where Indonesia will raise the issue of illegal fishing and ask the world body's support to declare it a transnational crime” she added. Illegal fishing often involves other crimes, such as smuggling, slavery and human trafficking. The push to categorize illegal fishing as a transnational crime has been supported by fellow member states, including Norway and Papua New Guinea.

Indonesia counts its islands to protect territory and resources
— Rafki Hidayat, BBC, 7 June 2017
The Indonesian Government is hoping to get a definitive count of its islands in time for a United Nations meeting in August. Indonesia hopes registering the islands with the UN will help protect Indonesia's vast territory and its rich fishing resources. At the last UN Conference on the Standardization of Geographical Names in 2012, the Indonesian government registered 13,466 islands that it had located and named. The counting team from the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries told the BBC's Indonesian service that they wanted to add at least 1,700 new islands at the next meeting in August.  "The number will probably go up because we are in the process of validating and verifying islands right now and we will keep doing this till the end of July," said Balok Budiyanto, a ministry official leading the team. A 1996 law estimated the number of Indonesian’s islands at 17,50

Indonesia makes its fishing fleet visible to the world through Global Fishing Watch
— Physnews, 7 June 2017
Last week, at the United Nation's Ocean Conference, the Republic of Indonesia became the first nation to publish Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) data revealing the location and activity of its commercial fishing fleet. The new data being made public on the Global Fishing Watch public mapping platform reveals commercial fishing in Indonesian waters and areas of the Indian Ocean where it had previously been invisible to the public and other nations. Susi Pudjiastuti, the Minister of Marine Affairs and Fisheries for the Republic of Indonesia, is taking a bold step toward increasing  transparency in her country's fishing industry. She urges other nations to do the same. "Illegal fishing is an international problem, and countering it requires cross border cooperation between countries," says Minister Susi. "I urge all nations to join me in sharing their vessel monitoring data with Global Fishing Watch. Together, we can begin a new era in transparency to end illegal and unreported fishing."

Forestry & Land Use

New website allows people to monitor peatland restoration
— The Jakarta Post, 7 June 2017
The World Resources Institute, in collaboration with the Madani Foundation for Sustainability, has launched a website to track the progress of various peatland restoration programs.  The website,, will monitor the government’s commitment to restore 2 million hectares of peatland by 2020. “If we find no progress on each commitment, we could suggest solutions to the government,” said Almo Pradana, WRI’s peatland restoration project manager.  WRI said the website will also be used to share experience and ideas about peatland restoration in the country.

Borneo Could Lose 75 percent of Its Forest by 2020: WWF
— Jakarta Globe, 5 June 2017
World Wildlife Fund Indonesia and Malaysia released an executive summary of an upcoming publication titled "The Environmental Status of Borneo 2016," predicting that Borneo could lose 75 percent of its forest by 2020. Only 71 percent of the 74 million hectares of Boreno's forest remained in 2005, and only 55 percent was left in 2015. Projections indicate that if the deforestation continues at this rate, a further 6 million hectares of forest will be destroyed by 2020, leaving less than a third left by 2020. 

28 hotspots detected on Sumatra Islands
— Antara News, 5 & 13 June 2017
The Meteorological, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) has detected 28 hotspots, indicating forest and plantation fires, in four provinces located on Sumatra Island on Tuesday. The hotspots were found in Aceh, North Sumatra, Riau, and Lampung provinces, Slamet Riyadi, head of the data section of the Pekanbaru meteorology station, said on Tuesday. Aceh has 14 hotspots, North Sumatra has seven, Riau has four, and Lampung has three, he stated. "Of the four hotspots in Riau Province, one has been confirmed as forest fire," he revealed. Riau Province Forest and Land Fire Task Force has deployed an MI-8 helicopter to drop 40 tons of water to extinguish forest fires in Kampar District, spokesperson of the Roesmin Nurjadin airbase Maj. Sus Rizwar stated. |

Companies drop appeal for judicial review against Indonesian Forest and Environmental Law
— Sri Pujianti, Constitutional Court Website, 14 June 2017
— Sapariah Saturi & Lusia Arumingtyas, Mongabay, 15 June 2017
Associations representing the palm oil and timber industries withdrew a lawsuit against Indonesia’s environment and forestry laws claiming they needed more time to study the rules. Joko Supriyono, chairman of the Indonesian Palm Oil Association (GAPKI) said they would challenge the law again in the future, insisting the companies were held unfairly accountable for fires that occur on their land under the current legal regime. The business groups.
— GAPKI and the Indonesian Association of Forestry Concessionaires (APHI)
— had sought to achieve two policy objectives.
First, to abolish the concept of strict liability and second; to ban slash-and-burn agriculture for everyone. Constitutional Court has granted the withdrawal and stated the associations may not challenge the same articles in the future. Groups that had been gearing up to fight the suit in court welcomed its cancellation.

Palm oil prices, stocks remain low
—, 31 May 2017S
— Stefani Ribka, The Jakarta Post, 5 June 2017
Increasing soybean production in the US, US dollar weakness, and other factors have pushed crude palm oil prices lower, reaching 2,502 ringgit (USD $584.46) per ton (30/05), falling a total of 14.48% this year. Increases in sales to the European Union (up 8% from March to 482,950 tons in April) and to countries with large Muslim populations in advance of the Idul Fitri holiday have led exports higher.  Overall, exports for the first four months of 2017 surged by 26 percent year-on-year (yoy) to 10.7 million tons. However, production has not kept pace, and the nation’s palm oil stocks have fallen to 888,000 tons in April, the lowest level so far this year.  |

FSC to investigate Korean conglomerate’s palm oil operations in Indonesia
— Mike Gaworecki, Mongabay, 7 June 2017
The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) has announced that it will investigate the Indonesian oil palm operations of Korean agribusiness conglomerate Korindo in response to a formal complaint submitted by environmental group Mighty Earth. The group submitted the complaint to the FSC on May 15, 2017, together with evidence that Mighty Earth said showed the Korindo Group has, since 2013, cleared more than 30,000 hectares (over 74,000 acres) of rainforest for palm oil production in the Indonesian provinces of Papua and North Maluku.  “The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) has formally accepted a Policy for Association (PfA) complaint submitted by Mighty Earth against Korindo Group (Korindo) for ‘Significant conversion of forests to plantations or non-forest use”, the certification body confirmed in a statement released.

Energy, Climate Change and Pollution

Indonesia asks OPEC to reactivate membership
— Jakarta Globe (Reuters), 3 June 2017
Indonesia has sent a letter to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to reactivate its membership in the group, a Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources spokesman said.The ministry did not provide further details and did not respond to questions on whether Indonesia would cut output. Indonesia's OPEC membership was suspended in December, less than a year after rejoining the cartel, as the net oil importer said it could not agree to the group's proposed production cuts.

More fiscal incentive for geothermal industry
— Afrut Syafril, Antara News, 5 June 2017
Government will eliminate value added taxes (PPn) on exploitation in an effort to bolster investment in the country's geothermal sector. “This new policy will add the existing incentive of free VAT for exploration and import duty” said Rida Mulyana, the Director General Director of New and Renewable Energy. The Ministerial Regulation is at finalization phase and is expected to take effect in July. The government will also offer tax allowances for income tax, shorten the depreciation period and reduce dividend taxes.

Indonesia and Finland develop new waste to energy project
— Caesar Akbar and Ali Hidayat, Tempo English, 6 June 2017
The Indonesian and Finnish governments are exploring an opportunity to cooperate in developing waste to energy project. Earlier, Finland has invested in the same program in Jakarta via city-owned PT Jakarta Propertindo. The National Development Planning Agency Minister, Bambang Brodjonegoro, said he encouraged Finland to develop waste to energy technology not only in Jakarta, but also across regions in Indonesia. He said that the Finnish government is prepared to invest in other cities provided that Indonesia provide assurances on electricity tariffs and tipping fees.

Government prepares new regulation to limit coal export
—  Leo Jegho, Global Indonesian Voices 20 June 2017
The government is finishing a new regulation to set coal export limits and subsequently maintain longer-term reserves domestically. Besides being the world’s largest coal exporter, Indonesia is the third biggest producer of the commodity after China and the United States. The Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources (ESDM) is still drafting the regulation, which might not be ready and put into effect this year, Bambang Gatot Ariyono, Director General of Mineral and Coal at the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources, said on Sunday (18/6). Bambang noted that by controlling exports, Indonesia could supply enough coal supply for domestic coal-fired power projects and industries that produce coal-associated commodities like Coal Bed Methane, Methanol, Phenol, Benzene and Pharmaceutical Salt.

Conservation & Protected Areas

Mangrove loss threatens migratory shorebird route in North Sumatra
— Ayat S Karokaro, Mongabay, 15 June 2017
A new study examines the impact of agricultural expansion on an important shorebird habitat in North Sumatra. The researchers who conducted the field observation from October 2014 to April 2015 recorded 30 species in seven different natural domains in the region, with wetlands holding the highest population of shorebirds, such as mudflat habitat with 10,687 individuals. In comparison, spots that are closer to human activities had the lowest number with less than 100 birds. “The majority of habitats have been converted into oil palm plantations, rice fields and aquaculture,” the report read, noting that mangrove coverage in North Sumatra has plummeted 85 percent to about 31,885 hectares over the course of 14 years. The destruction of the area’s mangrove forests is only intensifying, while the number of migratory shorebirds flying in to Deli Serdang is declining in parallel, according to Chairunas Adha Putra, one of the researchers. 

Indonesia’s authorities seize pangolins, scales worth US$190,000
— Channel New Asia (AFP), 14 June 2017
Indonesian authorities have seized hundreds of critically endangered pangolins and scales in a haul worth US$190,000 after uncovering a major smuggling operation, an official said Wednesday, 14 June 2017. Two men were also arrested after navy officers raided a warehouse near a port on Sumatra island late Tuesday, acting on a tip-off that it was being used to store the creatures which are also known as "scaly anteaters". They discovered 223 live pangolins, 24 of the creatures which were already dead and frozen as well as nine large bags of pangolin scales, local navy spokesman Sahala Sinaga told AFP. The pangolins were going to be sent to Malaysia and the scales could have been intended for production of crystal methamphetamine. In August last year, authorities found more than 650 pangolins hidden in freezers on the main island of Java and arrested a suspect.


Indonesia’s Idul Fitri exodus is estimated at 33 million travelers
— Firdaus Baderi, Neraca, 21 June 2017
Indonesia Development and Islamic Studies (IDEAS) estimated around 33 million people will travel to their hometown this week owns to celebrate the post-fasting Eid al-Fitr or Lebaran festivities, 65% of which destined to Java island. Transportation Ministry stated that he numbers rose by 8.5% from last year.




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