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
1st Edition :  17 January 2018

Happy new year and welcome to the first Digest of 2018.  We hope everyone had a restful holiday and is energized for another year.  The year starts off with mixed environmental developments here in Indonesia.  While the stories below highlight MMAF’s commitment to finally implementing a ban cantrang (modified trawl), it seems that after days of protests, political pressure has again gotten to policy makers, and the Minister of Marine Affairs and Fisheries  <> has indicated that use of cantrang will be allowed in six areas. Details are to follow soon.  On the terrestrial side, while pressure continues to mount  <> for conversion of forests in Papua, a court  <> recently invalidated RAPP’s appeal of a government decision annulling their plans to develop peatlands, perhaps indicating stronger enforcement of peat-related regulations.  Finally, President Joko Widodo this morning pushed through a “minor reshuffle” of his cabinet. The  <> Jakarta Post claims that the “implications are enormous as they are tied to President Jokowi’s own political survival.”  Highlighted is the President’s appointment of another Golkar party official in the wake Setya Novanto’s fall, to shore up Golkar support.
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Marine & Fisheries

Indonesia will stop sinking fishing boats
— Maritime Executive 12 January 2018
The government of Indonesia has ordered its maritime affairs and fisheries minister, Susi Pudjiastuti, to stop sinking fishing boats caught operating illegally in Indonesian waters.  “The [ministry] has been told not to sink ships this year," Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan told media. Vice president Jusuf Kalla elaborated in an interview with Kompas, suggesting that the policy was affecting Indonesia's relations with other nations.  
Since the program began in 2014, the ministry has destroyed a total of nearly 380 boats, often in dramatic fashion. On one Saturday last April, the ministry blew up or sank 81 vessels in 12 locations around the country. In an interview with Antara News on Thursday, the ministry's director of capture of fisheries, Sjarief Widjaja, said that the boat destruction policy had contributed to a restoration of the nation's fish stocks.  Leonardo Marbun, secretary of the North Sumatran Fishermen Alliance (ANSU), agreed with this assessment, “There used to be fishing boats from Thailand and Vietnam in North Sumatran waters. Since the ministry implemented the boat-sinking policy, they have become afraid to enter our territory.”   The government of Indonesia has ordered its maritime affairs and fisheries minister, Susi Pudjiastuti, to stop sinking fishing boats caught operating illegally in Indonesian waters.  “The [ministry] has been told not to sink ships this year," Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan told media. Vice president Jusuf Kalla elaborated in an interview with Kompas, suggesting that the policy was affecting Indonesia's relations with other nations.

‘Cantrang’ ban still in place despite protests
— Moses Ompusunggu and Andi Hajramurni, The Jakarta Post 10 January 2018
The government has said a ban on the use of environmentally damaging fishing equipment known as cantrang would not be revoked despite outrage from fishers staging rallies across Indonesia over the past two days. “[The ban] remains in place,” Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister Luhut Pandjaitan said on Tuesday.  Fishermen use cantrang to reach the seabed, where it sweeps up marine life using fine mesh. Experts say as a consequence, fish spawn and habitat features important for sustainability, are also caught.  Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti issued a regulation in 2015 banning the use of cantrang. However, implementation of the ban was delayed amid protests. Last May President Joko Widodo delayed implementation of the ban until December 2017, following complaints from thousands of fishermen worried about the impact of the ban on their livelihoods.

Fisheries industry misses targets for three consecutive years
— Jakarta Post 15 January 2018
The Indonesian Traditional Fishermen Association (KNTI) has recorded that Indonesia has failed to achieve both its production and export targets in the fisheries sector in last three years from 2015. Head of KNTI strategic and research department Niko Amrullah said in Jakarta on Sunday that exports in 2015 reached US$3.95 billion, below the target of $5.86 billion, while in 2016 exports reached $3.78 billion from the target of $6.82. In 2017, exports were lower still at $3.17 billion, well below the target of $7.62 billion. The declines have affected the performance of small and medium enterprises in the fisheries sector, highlighted by the increase in non-performing loans (NPL) in the sector to 5.04% in 2017 from 4.30%. Niko blamed the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry for the poor performance.

Decline in fisheries exports blamed on high tariffs 
— Stefani Ribka, Jakarta Post  13 January 2018
Indonesia has aimed to increase fisheries exports to US$5 billion this year by aggressively pursuing lower import tariffs with trade partners.  The Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries’ product competitiveness director general (PDSPKP), Nilanto Perbowo, said the ministry had approached key markets, such as the European Union and Japan, to discuss allowing Indonesia to enjoy zero-import duty for seafood products similar to the policies for of Timor Leste, the Philippines, Fiji and Papua New Guinea. Indonesia, a member of the G20, is not categorized as a poor country, and thus is required pay higher trade tariffs.  In the first 11 months of last year, trade volume decreased by 0.39% from the trade volume in the same period in 2016.

Value of Fishery Exports up 8.12 percent
— KontanMobile 11 January 2018
Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries’ (MMAF) Product Competitiveness Directorate (PDSPKP), processing data from the Central Bureau of Statistics (BPS), reported year over year growth of over 8% in the value of fishery exports, from US$3.78 billion during the period of January – November in 2016, to US$4.09 billion during the same period in 2017. The export value of shrimp rose 0.53%, skipjack tuna (TTC) rose 18.57%, crabs (crabs) rose 29.46 %, cuttlefish squid octopus (CSG) rose 16.54%, and seaweed (RL) rose 23.35%. Similarly, from 2012-2016 Indonesia's fishery trade balance increased by 2.31% per year, higher than China (+ 0.60%), Vietnam (-21.39%), Philippines (-6.75%), and Thailand (-15.14%). Secretary General of KKP, Rifky Effendi Hardijanto also reported that net tax revenues from fisheries increased 47.41% from Rp734 billion in 2014 to Rp1,082 trillion in 2017. On Thursday (11/1), Minister Susi Pudjiastuti stated that MMAF will continue to combat Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing, in order to support continued increases in production and exports in accordance with President Joko Widodo's direction.  Minister Susi also highlighted an increase domestic consumption of seafood of 29.65% from 33.89 kg per capita per year in 2012, to 43.94 kg in 2016.

Surimi factories to close down
— Sri Mas Sari, Bisnis Indonesia 8 January 2018
A total of 15 factories making fish paste or surimi in Java decided to temporarily halt their factories for an unspecified time, following the introduction of the ban on cantrang (modified trawl net) by the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (KKP). Chairman of the Association of Fisheries Product Processing and Marketing (AP5I), Budhi Wibowo, said most surimi factories use small-sized fish or rejects that commonly results from use of cantrang. However, since the introduction of the ban on cantrang, raw material for production has decreased. Acting Director General of Capture Fisheries, Zulficar Mochtar, said the scarcity of the raw material was not caused by the ban on cantrang gear, but rather a competition from the meat industry in need of massive fish resources for feed.

Kelola Mina Laut Group prepares IPO on the Indonesia stock exchange
— Indonesia Investment 11 January 2018
Seafood company Kelola Mina Laut Group (KML Group) is set to conduct an initial public offering on the Indonesian Stock Exchange in 2018. Headquartered in Gresik, East Java, KML Group owns 56 seafood processing plants and has assets of over IDR 1 trillion, making it one of Indonesia's largest seafood companies. The company's seafood products include frozen fish, frozen cephalopods, frozen shrimps, crab meat, dried seafood, and frozen block surimi.  Currently, the KML Group operates 20 fishing vessels but would like to add 15 more units by the end of 2018. Mohammad Nadjikh, President Director of the KML, stated that the company anticipated continued growth of around 20 percent annually.

Forestry & Land Use

Paper giant and its ‘suppliers’ are essentially one and the same, investigation finds
—  Michael Disaboto, Mongabay 29 December 2017
An investigation by The Associated Press has uncovered ownership ties between one of the world’s largest paper producers; Asia Pulp & Paper and more than two dozen tree-plantation companies that supply it with pulpwood.  The news agency used hundreds of pages of corporate records to determine that Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) – an arm of the family-run Sinar Mas conglomerate – has “extensive behind-the-scenes ties and significant influence” over a vast network of suppliers. The firm has always claimed the suppliers are “independent” entities, separate from Asia Pulp & Paper itself. But the investigation suggests that that they are all part of the same conglomerate. The supplier companies are often linked to deforestation, haze-causing fires, and conflict with indigenous communities.

In early push into Papua, palm oil firms set stage for massive forest plunder
— Hans Nicholas Jong, Mongabay 3 January 2018
Large-scale deforestation and numerous hotspots indicate that the arrival of the oil palm industry in Indonesia’s Papua region is wreaking the same kind of destruction wrought on forests in Sumatra and Kalimantan. Papua and West Papua provinces account for 35 percent of the country’s remaining rainforest, spanning 294,000 square kilometers. In 2012, companies submitted investment applications for a combined 15,000 square kilometers of plantations there, and preliminary proposals for another 20,000 square kilometers. In Merauke, 12,000 square kilometers has been allotted for the government’s Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate (MIFEE) program, which activists blame for more than 11,000 hotspots resulting from fires to clear vegetation. The development of Papua’s forests has been enabled in part by the West Papuan government which, in 2015, revised the provincial zoning map to designate 20,000 square kilometers of protected area as agricultural zones, decreasing the total amount of protected forest from more than 50,000 of the province’s 98,000 square kilometers to 33,000 square kilometers.

Indonesia unveils plan to halve forestry fires by 2019
— Hans Nicholas Jong, Mongabay 29 December 2017
The Indonesian government has launched a plan to cut down land and forest fire hotspots by nearly half, in part through the protection and restoration of peat forests. The program, which calls for $2.73 billion in funding, aims to ensure that 121,000 square kilometers of land, a fifth of it peat forest, will be fire-free by 2019. The move comes as the government anticipates drier weather conditions than usual next year in perennial hotspot regions like West Kalimantan.

BRG urges government to empower peatland societies through social forestry scheme
— Dames Alexander Sinaga, The Jakarta Globe 2 January 2018
The Indonesia’s Peat Restoration Agency, or BRG, and several civil society organizations urged the government to apply its social forestry programs to poor communities residing in degraded peatland areas. President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's administration has set a target of allocating 12.7 million hectares across the country under the social forestry scheme by 2019.  Myrna Safitri, deputy head of BRG, said her agency has been trying to collaborate its peatland restoration programs with the ministry’s social forestry programs. She said the government's social forestry programs have a binding power which is directly related to land suitability and land tenure.

Paper giant RAPP bows to peat-protection order after Indonesia court defeat
— Hans Nicholas Jong, Mongabay 22 December 2017
A court has invalidated a bid by Riau Andalan Pulp and Paper (RAPP) to overturn a government order obliging it to conserve peatlands that fall within its concessions. The ruling means the company will have to submit revised work plans to the government in which peat areas that it had previously earmarked for development would be conserved and rewetted to prevent fires. Last month, RAPP filed a legal challenge to a Ministry of Environment of Forestry decision annulling RAPP’s work plans.

Indonesia falling way behind in mangrove rehabilitation
— Dames Alexander Sinaga, The Jakarta Globe 10 January 2018
Indonesia is still far behind its target of rehabilitating 1.8 million hectares of degraded mangrove forests by 2045 due to a lack of money and human resources. According to data from the Environment and Forestry Ministry, Indonesia has 3.5 million hectares of mangrove forests, 1.8 million hectares of which are in extremely degraded condition. Muhammad Firman, director of soil and water conservation at the Ministry of Environment and Forestry said from 2010 to 2016 it has only managed to rehabilitate 32,653 hectares of degraded mangrove forests. Firman said the government only sets aside enough money to rehabilitate 500 hectares of mangrove forests each year from the state budget (APBN).  Firman pointed out other factors that have slowed down rehabilitation of mangrove forests, including illegal logging, the charcoal industry, land conversion for development, aquaculture and pollution.

Energy, Climate Change and Pollution

Papua, Mimika to get Freeport stakes
— Archio Irfan Gorbiano, The Jakarta Post 13 January 2018
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed on Friday (12, January) between central and local government administrations that will lay the groundwork for the transfer of interests in one of the world’s biggest gold mines. The deal includes participation by the administrations of Papua province and Mimika regency, the location of Grasberg gold and copper mine managed by PT Freeport Indonesia (PTFI), in the future divestment of a majority stake owned by United States mining giant Freeport-McMoRan Inc. (FCX). The Papua provincial administration will receive a 3% stake while the Mimika regency administration will own a 7% stake after the divestment.  The remaining 41% of the divested stake would be owned by state owned aluminum producer, Inalum, said Inalum president director Budi Gunadi Sadikin. “The portion of the stake was to accommodate the rights of the indigenous people, which are affected by PTFI’s [operation],” the Indonesian Finance Minister, Sri Mulayani said.

Indonesia’s first wind turbine to operate in 2018
— Kompas, 2 January 2018
The Bayu Sidrap I Power Station in South Sulawesi, Indonesia’s first commercial utility scale wind farm, will be ready to operate in 2018 with capacity of 75MW.  The project is scheduled to produce power for the South Sulawesi PLN grid. The wind farm has 30 turbines with a height of 80 meters and a blade length of 57 meters. The total investment of the wind farm is Rp2 trillion (US$150 million).

Government expands fuel contract duration
— Viriya P Singgih & and Rachadea Aisyah, The Jakarta Post 9 January 2018
The Downstream Oil and Gas Regulatory Agency (BPH Migas) has extended the duration of distribution contracts from one to five years in a bid to encourage private firms to supply fuel to less accessible regions.  The longer contract period is expected to provide greater certainty for suppliers that need to invest in building distribution networks on their own.Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Ignasius Jonan said on Monday that under the previous, shorter, contract period, investors were often reluctant to channel money into establishing fuel distribution agents in remote regions.   In line with the ministry’s instruction, on Monday BPH Migas officially assigned Pertamina and PT AKR Corporindo companies to deliver subsidized Solar and subsidized kerosene throughout the archipelago during the 2018-2022 period.  The two companies have again been designated as the only official distributors of the government-backed one fuel price program, which intends to make the price of fuel the same across Indonesia and kicked off last year.

Pertamina takes over Mahakam from Total, Inpex
— Viriya P. Singgih, The Jakarta Post 1 January 2018
State-owned energy giant Pertamina has taken over Mahakam gas block, Indonesia’s largest, from France’s Total E&P Indonesie and Japan’s Inpex Corporation, with a pledge to curb its declining production rate.  The move, carried out through Pertamina’s subsidiary PT Pertamina Hulu Indonesia (PHI) right after the new year, ends the tenure of the two foreign companies that have been operating the block since 1966. However, the actual transfer process began on March 13, 2017 when Pertamina signed bridging and funding agreements with its two counterparts.

Indonesia to stop using state budget for renewable energy projects
— The Jakarta Post 4 January 2018
The Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry said the government had stopped using the state budget to finance renewable energy-based power plant projects, following reports of damaged power plants in a number of regions. The ministry’s energy conservation and renewable energy director-general, Rida Mulyana, said the development of clean energy projects would be handled by state-owned electricity company PLN.  The ministry had allocated Rp3.01 trillion (US$224 million) from 2011 to 2017 to construct clean energy power plants. The Supreme Audit Agency (BPK) said the damages to 112 government-constructed power plants totaled Rp467 billion. Rida said heavy damages at some of the plants had been caused by landslides, flooding or lightning and the plants could not be fully operated.

Conservation & Protected Areas

Military sent in to clean up Indonesia's Citarum River
— Wahyudi Soeriaatmadja, The Strait Times 10 January 2018
For decades, the province's longest river has increasingly been exposed to industrial waste from factories producing anything from colored fabrics to chocolate bars. Located 70km east of Jakarta, Citarum River is one of the 10 most polluted rivers in the world.  Mounting frustration about its state has prompted local military chief, Major-General Doni Monardo, to start non-war operations on-site - an unprecedented move for an Indonesian river. He will deploy 22 colonels and 5,000 troops to curb pollution of the once-pristine waterway and install CCTV video surveillance units along its banks.  Indonesia's government is also getting tough on river polluters, especially corporations. President Joko Widodo plans to issue new regulations to speed up prosecution. Currently, police cannot start investigating any company disposing liquid toxic waste until after a municipal environmental office issues a warning, puts the company on probation and the company reoffends.

Wildlife detectives pursue the case of dwindling elephants in Indonesia
— Jon Emont, The New York Times 11 January 2018
Difficulty in prosecuting elephant poisonings and other wildlife crimes, which in Sumatra include tiger, orangutan and rhinoceros poaching, has spurred Indonesian conservation groups to go beyond their traditional advocacy work to conduct independent criminal investigations. The Wildlife Conservation Society began its wildlife investigations unit in 2003 and now leads seven teams of detectives around Indonesia who investigate wildlife killings, often undercover.  Detectives typically approach poaching suspects, often posing as buyers, to track wildlife parts to market, and then deliver evidence to the police to encourage them to prosecute. Mr. Dwi, the leader of the group’s investigators said his team had seen results: Of 101 sting operations conducted by Indonesia’s government in 2016 to detain wildlife traders, 49 were aided by the society’s detectives, the group’s figures show.

Indonesia’s Aceh extends moratorium on new mining sites
— Junaidi Hanfiah, Mongabay 12 January 2018
The government of Aceh province has extended for another six months a moratorium on issuing new mining permits, in a bid to protect some of Sumatra’s rich rainforests and natural resources. Aceh Governor Irwandi Yusuf last month signed off the freeze on new mining deals until June this year, after the previous moratorium ended last October. The province has maintained a series bans on such permits since 2014. Since then, the province has revoked 101 mining permits out of 138 that account for some 8,410 square kilometers (3,250 square miles) of land, including protected areas and conservation zones. The administration said it would continue to review and improve the management of the mining sector in Aceh during the ban.

Indonesian ex-soldier among three jailed for illegal trade in Sumatran rhino, tiger parts
— Ayat S Karokaro, Mongabay 10 January 2018
A court in Indonesia has sentenced three men, including a former soldier, to two years in jail for illegally trading in body parts from a critically endangered Sumatran rhino and tiger. The two men were  <> arrested in August last year in a sting carried out by local authorities. The horn seized in the operation was found to have been partially carved into an ornamental globe. Just days earlier, the same court handed down an identical sentence of two years in prison and Rp100 million  (US$ 8,000) in fines for  <> trapping and killing a Sumatran tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae) in the Mount Leuser National Park with the intention of selling it. While both the Sumatran rhino and Sumatran tiger are deemed critically endangered, the local laws meant to protect them remains lax. The national parliament is currently drafting a bill that would strengthen the existing 1990 legislation on natural resources conservation, following mounting calls from conservationists who are seeking tougher sentences for offenders and an expanded definition of wildlife trade to include the growing online commerce in animals and animal parts.




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