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
14th Edition :  8 August 2018

Marine & Fisheries

Susi Pudjiastuti: 10,000 poacher boats exit Indonesian waters
— Tempo 27 July 2018
Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti said 10,000 poacher vessels had left Indonesian waters during her tenure as minister. Susi thanked various parties for the commitment and cooperation in the 116 Task force formed by President Joko Widodo. "The results, in 2017, our national fish spots doubled from 6.5 million to 12.5 million tons,” she said. Susi also appealed to all parties to oversee and comply with the marine zonation regulations. "Vessels weighing 0 gross tons (GT) should not operate in 4 to 12 miles, so our small fishermen’s catches are not disturbed, and also to heed the regulations of using fishing nets under 3 to 4 miles,” she said.

Japan to help build fish-processing centers in Indonesia
— Adriel Arismundandar, Jakarta Globe 1 August 2018
The government will use a grant from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to build integrated marine and fishery centers on islands in Indonesia's six outermost regions to boost exports. JICA granted total funding of 2.5 billion yen ($22 million) for the construction of processing centers in Aceh, Riau Islands, Papua and Maluku. Nilanto Perbowo, secretary general of the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (MMAF), said the government expects the facilities to operate by 2020. The facilities are part of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's program to develop Indonesia's remote areas, which includes the establishment of 20 integrated marine and fisheries centers. The Indonesian fishing industry has seen rising production over the past three years, but lack of processing capability is limiting market reach.

Company accused of diluting Chesapeake blue crab meat with imported crab
— Justin Jouvenal, The Washington Post 4 August 2018
Federal prosecutors allege in a case unsealed this year that Virginia, US based Casey’s Searfood sold 398,000 pounds of Chesapeake blue crab – worth roughly $14 million at current prices – that had been mixed with cut-rate crab from Indonesia or Brazil and labeled as an American product. Watermen, seafood suppliers, lawmakers and environmental groups have all expressed concerns about crab fraud in recent years and a 2015 report by Oceana found that nearly 40% of crab cakes labelled as local contained imported crab meat. The foreign crab that ends up in local products is sometimes illegally fished in an unsustainable fashion, such as via bottom trawling.  Casey, 74, has been charged with violating the Lacey Act, a federal law on the labeling of fish and wildlife. He faces up to five years in prison if convicted.

100 tons of fish killed in in C. Java fish farms
— Ganug Nugroho Adi, The Jakarta Post 5 August 2018
Over 100 tons of red and gold Nile tilapia fish being farmed in karamba (bamboo cages) in Boyolali, Central Java, have died over the past week, reportedly as a result of ammonia pollution, totaling Rp2 billion (US$138,160) in losses. The fish began to die on Wednesday, Budi Siswanto a farmer said, adding that he suspected that the long drought had caused the ammonia, which was piled up from the residue of fish pellets at the bottom of the dam, to surface and pollute the water. Boyolali Livestock and Fishery Agency production division head Deviet Nurmaryani said the fish died as a result of “upwelling”, a vertical motion of water caused by temperature changes between the surface and the bottom of the water. The signs of upwelling are weather change, water clarity and a significant reduction in water temperature.

Wealthier nations have near-total dominance over fishing on high seas
— Yale Environment 360, 1 August  2018
Using artificial intelligence to analyze 22 billion data points from satellite tracking devices on fishing vessels, U.S. researchers have discovered that 97 percent of high-seas fishing is controlled by wealthier nations. Reporting in the journal Science Advances, researchers from the University of California, Santa Barbara found that even within the 200-mile exclusive economic zones of less-wealthy countries, the fishing fleets of wealthier nations are responsible for 78 percent of all trackable fishing activity. On the high seas, the study found that fleets from just three nations — China, Taiwan, and Japan — account for 52 percent of all fishing activity. The researchers said that government-sponsored subsidies in wealthy nations have contributed to their dominance. The scale is so enormous, the researchers said, that 6,500 semi-tractor trailer trucks could fit inside the largest trawl net deployed by industrial fishing vessels.

Blue swimming crab prices still high, but wholesalers fear adding inventory
—Jason Huffman, Undercurrent News 7 August 2018
Blue Swimming crab is one of the most stressed markets in the seafood industry.  Prices have been near record highs for more than 18 months and dealers are afraid to buy more and get stuck with inventory when prices ultimately drop. “It’s been two solid, back-to-back years, which kind of breaks all kinds of history,” said Alex Cook, senior VP of sales for seafood importer Bonamar, in Miami, Florida, adding that the market is due for corrections “and they could be fairly sharp.” Another importer, who requested anonymity, further explained, saying producers in Indonesia and other countries continue to ask for higher prices at the docks, arguing that supply is tight, and demand is high, but the US market has started to push back. He believes the market will settle in September. Indonesia represented 44.6% of the combined 12,736t of blue, blue swimming and red swimming crabmeat imported by the US during the first six months of 2018.

Japan seeks to raise bluefin tuna quotas
— The Japan News, July 30 2018
The government of Japan plans to propose raising catch quotas for Pacific bluefin tuna in September. Overfishing has drastically declined bluefin stock to about 10 percent of its peak level of 168,125 tons in 1961. Since 2015, the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC), consisting of 26-member countries, including the US and Japan, has set caps on catch. The WCPFC set a mid-term target of increasing stocks of adult Pacific bluefin tuna from roughly 21,000 tons to 43,000 tons in 2024. The commission has adopted a policy of allowing higher catch quotas once the probability of achieving the target reaches 70 percent or more. The commission announced in mid-July that the probability of achieving the target would be 74 percent if total catches increase by 15 percent from 2019. Bluefin tuna caught in the Pacific Ocean accounts for 60 percent of the Japan market.

Thai Union’s profit nearly erased by tuna price-fixing litigation
— Marimi Kisimoto, Nikkei Asian Review 8 August 2018
Thai Union Group has reported a 99% year-on-year plunge in group net profit for the three months through June after setting aside $44 million to cover potential costs related to U.S. litigation over alleged price fixing. The world's largest producer of canned tuna logged net profit of just 9.63 million baht ($290,000) for the quarter after this expense, the company said this week. From 2015 through 2016, American wholesalers and retailers including Walmart sued a Thai Union subsidiary that produces shelf-stable tuna under the Chicken of the Sea brand, along with its two largest competitors, for allegedly colluding to set prices.

Forestry & Land Use 

Report says Indonesia ‘land swap’ plan puts forests at risk
— Stephen Wright, Associated Press 24 July 2018
Researchers say a plan by the Indonesian government to give plantation companies new lands in exchange for restoring areas they destroyed could result in more tropical forests being cut down. Spatial analysis released Tuesday by The Anti-Forestry Mafia Coalition shows 40% of the 921,000 hectares (3,556 square miles) designated for land swaps is natural forest. The land swap plan has raised concerns among conservation groups because of the potential for new conflicts with communities and fears companies might be given new land even before they’ve completed restoration of the degraded swampland forests. It’s also unpopular with plantation operators because new areas they’re allocated could be distant from their factories and mills.

Land reform in spotlight at international forum
— The Jakarta Post, 6 August 2018
Indonesia is selected to host the 2018 Global Land Forum (GLF) next month based on the significant progress of land reform under President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo. Since 2014, President Jokowi has placed agrarian reform among his top priority programs including redistributing 9 million ha of land for farmers and the social forest program which will provide greater control by indigenous communities over 12.7 million ha of land. Social Forestry and Environment Partnership director general Bambang Supriyanto said his ministry had distributed 1.75 million ha of social forestry as of July. Rukka Sombolinggi, secretary-general of the Indigenous Peoples Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN) questioned the government’s commitment to agrarian reform citing that only 1%, or 19,000 ha of distributed forest land had been returned to indigenous communities, while the rest went for social forestry. Dewi Kartika, secretary-general of the Agrarian Reform Consortium (KPA), also lambasted the government for failing to address agrarian conflicts.

Indonesia forest assessment casts an optimistic light on a complex issue
— Hans Nicholas Jong, Mongabay 30 July 2018
Indonesia has released its inaugural report on the state of its forests titled “The State of Indonesia’s Forests 2018”. The report’s findings are largely positive, highlighting declines in both the deforestation rate and forest fires in 2016 and 2017, thanks to policies spurred by devastating blazes in 2015. Chief among these is a program banning the clearing of peatlands and ordering plantation companies to restore and conserve areas of peat within their concessions. Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya said she hoped it would provide a detailed, comprehensive and balanced portrait of the current state of Indonesia’s rainforests, and eventually dispel perceptions of Indonesia as a major deforesting nation. However, the rate of progress on the peat protection program, as well as community forest management reform, remains slow and underfunded. Experts also warn that the progress recorded over the past two years aren’t necessarily sustainable.

Palm oil: a blessing or a curse for Indonesia?
— Leo Jegho, Global Indonesian Voices 30 July 2018
Jakarta-based Catholic weekly Hidup, in its latest issue, printed reports about traditional land acquisitions by palm plantation investors in Papua and Kalimantan and about the fate of their workers. Father Anselmus Amo, secretary of the justice and peace commission (SKP) of the Catholic Archdiocese of Merauke in Papua, said palm oil plantations could now be found in almost all parts of Papua and West Papua provinces. Investors of those plantations are mainly from South Korea, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka, and Yemen, according to the priest. In addition, he shared that foreigners are also involved in logging activities in Papua. The priest made special mention of the district of Sorong which is home to several large palm oil plantations, two of which are listed on the Indonesian Stock Exchange.

Film: The Bornean village chief dealing with the fallout from a corrupt plantation deal
— The Gecko Project, 31 July 2018
After being elected head of the village of Tumbang Pejangei, Kardie, a Dayak man, discovered that his predecessor had signed a spate of documents allowing a palm oil company to annex a huge chunk of his community’s land. Kardie and other village leaders had objected to the proposed plantation the few times they had been asked for their views. However, the permit had been issued by the head of Gunung Mas district, a man named Hambit Bintih, who had since been convicted for his role in a bribery scheme.

Energy, Climate Change & Pollution

As planned excise flops, Indonesia ponders how to give up plastic bags
— Basten Gokkon, Mongabay 23 July 2018
The proliferation of free plastic shopping bags coupled with a lack of recycling infrastructure and a general disregard for waste management have turned Indonesia into one of the major contributors to the global plastic waste crisis. Consumers here went through 9.8 billion plastic bags in 2016 alone, according to the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, typically using them just once before discarding them. The government has backed down from imposing an excise on plastic shopping bags, planned for this month, following opposition from manufacturers and the Industry Ministry. The plan is the second to fall through, after a pilot program to charge consumers for plastic bags was abandoned by retailers in 2016. Plastics producers say the main problem is the inadequate waste management system to deal with all the waste.

Indonesia to make biodiesel use compulsory from September 1: official
— Bernadette Christina Munthe, Reuters 1 August 2018
Indonesia aims to make the use of biodiesel blended fuels compulsory from Sept. 1, Renewable Energy Director General Rida Mulyana said on Wednesday. President Joko Widodo in a cabinet meeting a day earlier said he wanted an immediate implementation of Indonesia’s biodiesel expansion program to help save billions of dollars in diesel imports. The government is revising draft presidential and ministerial regulations on biodiesel and working out quota allocations for biodiesel producers and fuel retailers, Mulyana said. Biodiesel use is currently only mandatory for subsidized diesel users, which some users cannot buy. Indonesian fuel stations will not be allowed to sell unblended diesel fuel once the new rules apply, he said, adding that companies found selling unblended fuel will be fined. With the expansion of the B20 rules, Indonesia could increase utilization of its biodiesel production capacity to an estimated 35-50% from around 25% at present, Sitanggang said.

Jokowi: B20 fuel policy can save up to US$5.9 billion
— Tempo, 2 August 2018
President Joko `Jokowi` Widodo requested the automotive industry to support the government`s attempt upon the implementation of the B20 biodiesel fuel. “… B20 biodiesel must reach every sector..,” said the president in opening the Gaikindo Indonesia International Auto Show (GIIAS) 2018 on August 2. The government policy of mixing diesel fuel, locally called solar, with 20% biodiesel will be expanded to non-subsidized sector starting from August. The B20 policy has been implemented in the subsidized fuel sector or public service obligation (PSO).  To add interest from auto producers, the government will introduce incentives for producers that are interested to sell the biodiesel to the non-PSO sector, which will be stated in a presidential decree. If Indonesia successfully implements and expands the B20 policy, the country is due to save up to US$5.9 billion in foreign exchange, which is a third of Indonesia`s transaction balance deficit.

Indonesia delays implementation coal & palm oil insurance regulation
— Indonesia Investment, 27 July 2018
The government decided to delay the implementation of the Trade Ministry Regulation No. 82/2017 on the Terms of Use of National Shipping and Insurance Companies for the Export and Import of Certain Goods. The regulation made it mandatory for Indonesian shipments of coal and CPO to use Indonesian ships and Indonesian insurance. The regulation was originally planned to be imposed in May 2018. However, it ignited fierce criticism and concern over the negative effect on Indonesia's export industry as domestic shipping capacity remains insufficient. Strong criticism particularly stemmed from Indonesia's coal mining industry. Hendra Sinadia, Deputy Executive Director of APBI, said Indonesian coal exports average 30-35 million metric tons per month but the shipping capacity of Indonesian-flagged vessels can only cover slightly over 4 million metric tons per month. Around 95% of Indonesia's coal exports are dependent on foreign-owned vessels.

RI left behind in Asia’s renewable energy race
— Stefanno Reinard Sulaiman, The Jakarta Post 4 August 2018
Recent research by the Institute for Essential Services Reform (IESR) has found that the country has fallen behind in phasing out the use of fossil fuels. Indonesia began drawing up policies for solar energy in 1986 IESR executive director Fabby Tumiwa said. China, meanwhile, entered the field a decade later, while India started focusing on solar energy in 2003. Indonesia trailed China and its Southeast Asian counterparts in terms of annual average growth of renewable energy capacity from 2007 to 2017. Based on the data, Fabby said there was doubt over whether Indonesia could reach its target of having 3% renewable energy in the national energy mix by 2025. Fabby cited the reasons behind this lack of growth, such as the government’s failure to prioritize renewable energy, a lack of holistic renewable policies across all government institutions and a lack of an effective renewable-energy pricing policy.

Government to publish new gas balance soon
— Stefanno Reinard Sulaiman, The Jakarta Post 1 August 2018
The government has completed the draft of a new gas balance aimed at perfecting the data of supply and demand for natural gas. The Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry’s director general for oil and gas, Djoko Siswanto, hopes that the new gas balance can help stakeholders fulfill the demand for natural gas. Djoko further said the new gas balance would separate the retail and non-retail sectors. The new gas balance will be set at a period of 10 years from 2018 to 2027, which is a revision of the existing 2017 to 2035 gas balance. The revision is needed as the government has to readjust to new gas supplies as a result of development in some gas fields. The revision also came as an answer and a mitigation plan following the unexpected oversupply of gas in 2016 amid slowing domestic demand. Djoko did not disclose the exact date of when the new gas balance would be published

Coal ship sinks in Aceh waters due to high tides
— Tempo, 31 July 2018
The barge TB Marina, carrying 7,000 tons of coal, submerged in the waters of Aceh Besar district on Monday, July 30, around 09:00 local time. Ridwan Jamil, the head of Aceh Besar Regional Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD), said the ship was slated to distribute the coal to PT Lafarge Cement Indonesia in Lhoknga subdistrict. However, the ship sank right when it started to lean on the dock of the company. Aceh Besar BPBD was currently investigating the incident The ship crews survived, however many sea creatures, including fish, crabs, starfish, and eels have been found dead on area beaches as a result of the sinking. The Coalition of Aceh Marine Advocacy (KUALA) urged the company to take responsibility for the coal spill.

Conservation & Protected Areas

Police hunt cigarette tosser who allegedly caused fire in Komodo National Park
—  The Jakarta Post, 5 August 2018
Police have questioned 11 people over a blaze that burned 10 hectares of savanna vegetation on Gili Lawa Darat island in Komodo National Park. The fire was allegedly caused by a lit cigarette tossed by a visitor on the island’s summit, Budhy explained. The visitor was travelling on a tour ship called Indonesia Juara (Indonesia the Champion).  Indonesia Juara’s management confirmed that its staff had been questioned. The management said the police were investigating whether its staff members had shown negligence in ensuring all visitors followed the rules during the tour.

Indonesia's list of protected flora, fauna species grows from 294 to 921
— Gemma Holliani Cahya, The Jakarta Post 2 August 2018
Environment and Forestry Ministry updated list of protected flora and fauna has seen a jump in the number of species, from 294 in 1999. The ministry’s biodiversity conservation director, Indra Exploitasia, said the updated list, revised for the first time in 19 years, was the result of a long discussion that began in 2007 and intensified in 2015. Indra said they were added to the list because they met the criteria for protected flora and fauna as stipulated in Article 5 of Government Regulation No. 7/1999. The article states that any species of flora and fauna that are endemic to the country, have a small population or saw its population decline significantly are required to be included in the protected class. However, several species on the 1999 list are not on the new list.

UNESCO lists three RI biosphere sites
— Yulia Savitri, The Jakarta Post 27 July 2018 Three national parks in Indonesia
Berbak-Sembilang in South Sumatra and Jambi, KerihunLake Sentarum in West Kalimantan and Rinjani-Lombok in West Nusa Tenggara (NTB) have gained UNESCO status of world biosphere reserves. The move was formally announced on Wednesday in Palembang, South Sumatra, during the 30th session of the Man and the Biosphere Program International Coordinating Council (MAB-ICC), UNESCO’s annual forum to discuss biosphere reserves. The three latest additions bring to 14 the number of Indonesian sites listed with UNESCO as biosphere reserves, and among 24 biosphere reserves introduced this year around the world, making for a total of 669 biosphere reserves in 122 countries. “We will also start to propose other sites later this year,” MAB National Committee UNESCO Indonesia program director Y. Purwanto said, referring to Togean, an island in Central Sulawesi rich in marine biodiversity, Mount Merbabu in Central Java and Mount Tambora in NTB.

Time's running out but no progress from Indonesia on rhino conservation cooperation
– Bora Kristy Inus, New Strait Times 2 August 2018
There has been a lot of talk about possible collaboration between Malaysia and Indonesia over rhinoceros’ conservation, but it appears there hasn’t been much change. Borneo Rhino Alliance (Bora) executive director Datuk Dr Junaidi Payne said not much progress has been made despite news reports from Indonesia a few months ago that both countries will continue to pursue collaborations in the conservation of the elusive species. Sabah currently has two rhinos in captivity under the care of a team under BORA. Since the male has a low sperm count, there is an increased urgency to step up the captive-breeding program for the species. Experts here were relying on their Indonesian counterparts to assist in obtaining sperm to perform an artificial insemination However, Indonesia has not followed up.


New law on non-tax receipts
— The Jakarta Post, 30 July 2018
The new law on non-tax receipts the House of Representatives approved last week to replace the 1997 law will not significantly strengthen the government’s capacity to increase its revenue. Nor will the new legislation change the composition of receipts. But the new law will strengthen the legal foundation for the collection of non-tax revenue (locally known under the acronym PNBP), because several types of PNBP under the old law were based only on ministerial decrees. The PNBP collection also will be strengthened, because the new law doubles the fines and triples the prison sentences for not paying or evading PNBP.  The new legislation also authorizes ministers to set the PNBP rates, which under the old law had to be set by the president. This will not, however, allow ministers to arbitrarily set PNBP rates in the various sectors, because the criteria for setting rates are still determined by the president.

Quake death toll climbs to 91, government declares emergency in Lombok
— The Jakarta Post, 6 August 2018
The death toll of a powerful earthquake in West Nusa Tenggara and Bali on Sunday evening has climbed to 91, the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) announced in a press conference in Jakarta on Monday. North Lombok regency suffered the largest number of fatalities with 72 people killed, while Bali recorded two fatalities. Most victims were killed from falling buildings, the BNPB said. The government has also declared an emergency status for East and North Lombok regencies until Aug. 11, said BNPB spokesperson Sutopo Purwo Nugroho. As of Monday afternoon, 209 people have been reported injured and thousands of buildings, including schools and hospitals, damaged. North and East Lombok saw the most damages, with 80 percent of the buildings in several areas completely demolished by the 7-magnitude earthquake. The earthquake on Sunday evening was the main shock, said Sutopo, while the smaller one on July 29 was the “foreshock”.




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