Pole-and-line tuna catch remains healthy, affirms IPNLF

​Research conducted on behalf of the International Pole & Line Foundation (IPNLF) confirms that Indonesia’s pole-and-line tuna catch remains at a healthy level.

The study focused on the production of Indonesian tuna fisheries in selected provinces, with the aim of  helping dispel any confusion over the size of the country’s pole-and-line catch and to clarify how much of the production enters commercial supply chains.

Recent reports have been circulated claiming Indonesia’s pole-and-line tuna catch fell to 10,000 tonnes last year, which is just one-tenth of the total volume that is generally accepted and reflected in the most recent Government capture fisheries statistics for 2014.

The IPNLF claims that as this low estimate clearly failed to incorporate the main pole-and-line fisheries management areas (FMAs) in Pacific archipelagic waters, which account for most of the pole-and-line catch, these wildly different figures could lead to concerns in the supply chain.

Several findings from a recent study undertaken by IPNLF trustee Dr Tony Lewis now show that Indonesia’s pole-and-line catch has not declined to the low level reported.

Lewis has more than 40 years experience in all aspects of the tuna industry, originally in the Pacific Islands then South East Asia and later globally. This latest piece of research was prompted by elevated skipjack pole-and-line catches in a few key production regions that were reported in the official statistics of Indonesia’s Directorate General for Capture Fisheries (DGCF).

The IPNLF found that that the country’s pole-and-line catch was over 100,000 tonnes last year and that 80 per cent of this total was accounted for by skipjack, yellowfin and bigeye tuna, which are the main species that are processed or canned.

Thus the estimated pole-and-line catch of these species for Indonesian Pacific waters was 113,678 tonnes in 2014 (20 per cent was tongkol/bonito).

Importantly, the research also finds that while the production from artisanal tuna fisheries in particular may be overestimated, relatively little of this catch by a large number of small fishing units enters commercial production supply chains. Instead, a large proportion of the catch is consumed fresh or processed for local consumption.

Andrew Harvey, Indonesia Country Director for the IPNLF, comments, “While Indonesia’s reported pole-and-line catch appears to have fluctuated in recent years, it has certainly not fallen by the drastic levels that have been suggested in a few recent reports and is in no way an indication of declining stocks or the fishery’s potential. In addition to the local consumption findings, it is important to note that the reduction in the pole-and-line landings have coincided with the rapid growth of the purse seine catch.

“Over the past 10 years, the Government of Indonesia has pursued a strategy of ‘industrialisasi’ – the rapid industrialisation of its fishing sector. This has included promoting considerable investment into the large-scale fishing sector. However, thanks to the progressive attitude of its Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries (MMAF), the Government of Indonesia is now focused on promoting and expanding its small-scale fisheries, including its pole-and-line and handline sectors. We fully expect this to bear significant fruit over a realistic timescale, both commercially and for the wellbeing of coastal communities,” Harvey explained.

IPNLF director commented that the entity is investing heavily in assisting MMAF to improve fisheries governance in Indonesia, such as strengthening management systems, effort controls and enforcement strategies.

“These are steps that in the long term will benefit not just the pole-and-line and handline sectors, but all tuna fisheries in Indonesia,” he concluded.