Longline Tuna Fishing—once among Indonesia’s most robust industries—may be staging a comeback as growing awareness of sustainable fishing and eco-friendly seafood processing practices is pushing this industry back into the spotlight. 

Sofian Siregar, captain of a longline vessel from Benoa in Indonesia’s holiday island of  Bali, has worked in the longline tuna industry for 40 years. Nestled among Bali’s scenic beaches, Benoa Harbour is one of the country’s most active hubs of the Indonesia’s Tuna Longline Fishery.

“In the golden era of longline tuna, I fished in the southern area of Bali, near the port, for just a few days a week,” said Mr. Siregar whose vessel belongs local company PT. Intimas Surya.”We used to catch thousands of tuna every day. So much tuna,” Sofian continued nostalgically, reminiscing about his early days as a busy fisher. 

The production of longline tuna fisheries in Indonesia has plunged in the past five years. In 2012, there were 1,132 Indonesian tuna longline vessels, but as of 2018, there were only 261 vessels with permits to fish in the high seas within the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) convention area.

But the industry refuses to give up. 

UNDP, through the Global Sustainable Supply Chains for Marine Commodities (GMC) Project, works with the Ministry of National Development Planning (BAPPENAS), to mainstream sustainability into seafood supply chains. The Project supports LINI Foundation, a Bali-based organisation who works with Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP), and the Indonesian Tuna Longline Association (ATLI) to obtain eco-label certifcates for their catch. 

The sustainability certification process is being conducted through a multi-stakeholder platform called Fisheries Improvement Projects (FIP).

From an economic perspective, it is more promising when companies can assure their customers through an eco-label certification, such a Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). “We strive to make Indonesia’s longline tuna regain its position as a sustainable product. We are committed to implementing the FIP action plan and hope to move towards ecolabel certification” said Dwi Agus Siswa Putra, Chairperson of ATLI. 

As of 2020, there are 26 companies with 283 fishing vessels covering six Indonesia Fisheries Management Areas in the longline tuna FIP.

"Through FIP, we hope to build a common and shared understanding and actions related to tuna longline fisheries in Indonesia” said Ivan Jorgih, owner of PT. Intimas Surya who is also appointed by ATLI to coordinate the FIP.

“Tuna longline fisheries play a significant role in the production of fish, especially high-quality fresh and frozen tuna. It is important for Indonesia, as a leading tuna producer, to ensure sustainability and effective management of this fishery not only to win the global market but for future generations and to contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)” said Sri Yanti, Director of Marine Affairs and Fisheries at BAPPENAS 

As part of the FIP, the companies will work on to improve several aspects of their fishing practices, in line with the three FIP principles: Sustainable Fish Stocks, Minimize Environmental Impacts, and Effective Management, all in the 5-year timeline. UNDP has supported training in addressing the likely interaction of longline tuna fisheries with other species, especially the Endangered Threatened and Protected (ETP) species. 

“I am glad that all FIP members are actively involved. I have faith that the FIP will make big difference and will help us to meet sustainable fishery standards,” said I Nyoman Sudartha, Secretary General of ATLI.

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Story by Eveline Kurniati (LINI Foundation), and Jensi Sartin (UNDP)

Edited by Tomi Soetjipto and Ranjit Jose

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The update on the FIP progress is available on: Indonesia Indian Ocean and Western Central Pacific Ocean tuna and large pelagics - longline

The profile of this fishery is available here

For more information about Global Marine Commodities Project visit the project website: http://globalmarinecommodities.org

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