Following a successful Australia Awards Fellowship in Australia “Capacity building for sustainable economic development of Indonesia’s fisheries” we visited Makassar as the guests of Hasanuddin University. We were able to experience at first hand some of the challenges facing coastal communities: destructive fishing practices, subsistence-level livelihoods, and unregulated fisheries. Indonesia has abundant aquatic resources and a large human population. Through education and training, research and development, opportunities to link Indonesia’s aquatic and human resources abound. Hasanuddin University, through its Faculty of Fisheries and Marine Science, has been identified as a specialist provider of the necessary research and education services for sustainable economic development of Indonesia’s aquatic living resources. Situated in Makassar, the traditional maritime hub of Indonesia, Hasanuddin University is ideally placed to assist in the development of human resources and associated sustainable enterprises. We visited the famous Paotere fish market. Teeming with freshly unloaded seafood and willing buyers, Paotere exemplifies Indonesian seafood supply chains. Fish are unloaded direct from the boats and sold unprocessed in open markets. Cold chain management is rudimentary as is basic sanitation and other standards of modern supply chains for seafood. Yet this simple central market approach seems to work – at least for local consumers. Value adding through further processing and supply to more lucrative local and even export markets appears minimal. We then visited Saurgi Island, part of the large Spermonde archipelago offshore South Sulawesi. The resident Island community appeared typical: about 100 households dependent on seafood for basic subsistence. Depletion of nearshore fish resources and damage to habitat through destructive fishing practices: for Saurgi cyanide poisoning targeting valuable reef fish (for the aquarium trade). Consortia controlling destructive fishing practices (bombing and poisoning) drive the ongoing problem of habitat destruction in Indonesia threatening the food security of vulnerable coastal communities and frustrating the development of sustainable enterprises. Through Hasanuddin University there is an opportunity for awareness raising (education program targeting the elimination of destructive fishing practices and of littering) and information gathering (for assessment of fish stocks and development of sustainable fisheries management). These opportunities were promoted at a public seminar at Hasanuddin University (with Dr Ian Knuckey). While in Makassar we caught up with an Australia Awards Indonesia (“Seafood Product Development Indonesia”) Pak Irsan of PT BOMAR. BOMAR processes shrimp collected through a coordinated network of local growers. It has a substantial export market to Japan (more than 1 million pieces of breaded shrimp per month). The Makassar-based facility employs more than 100o workers and is clearly an example of world’s best practice. BOMAR’s products are number 1 in their category for Japan which is equivalent to being number in the world for seafood. BOMAR exemplifies the pathway to prosperity through excellence in supply chain management and value adding. We had an opportunity to visit one of BOMAR’s suppliers, a shrimp farm in Barru some 120 km from Makassar. Linked to Hasanuddin University (the University offers internships to its students at the shrimp farm), the shrimp farm is an example of super intensive culture. Shrimp are harvested every two weeks (4 tonne) from two 50 x 60 m ponds. Overseen by BOMAR, the operation is tightly controlled for water quality, disease prevention, and product quality. We witnessed the harvest (also supervised by a BOMAR representative) shrimp are transferred alive from the pond, packed in two kilogram bags, and shipped on ice directly to the BOMAR facility in Makassar. Linking the knowledge sector to the private sector for sustainable enterprise development is central to our ongoing activities in Indonesia. Similarly, an academic from Hasanuddin University Ibu Yucinta, has developed and patented a method for promoting spawning in blue swimmer crabs (Portunus pelagicus). This allows for the development of a soft shell crab industry in Indonesia. She has already developed and marketed a range of soft shell crab products destined to become a very successful enterprise.
A visit to Badi Island provided a further opportunity for community engagement including a dive on the coral reef restoration sites supported by Mars Inc. Again, the Badi Island community were dependent on seafood for their livelihoods but related opportunities in aquaculture (seahorses and aquarium fish) offered alternatives to capture fisheries. The transfer of knowledge to the local community is an important pathway to sustainable prosperity for vulnerable coastal communities in Indonesia. Although there is much more work to be done and many challenges remain, the development of human resources in Indonesia through our capacity building programs offers prospect for improved economic and social well being.