Fishing and Aquaculture in Indonesia

June 4, 2021Lu Shegay


Indonesia is the world’s largest island country, located in Southeast Asia, and consists of more than 17 000 islands. Because of its geographical location, fishing and aquaculture are common practices in the country and play a significant role in the country’s economy. Fresh, brackish, and marine aquaculture are practiced in Indonesia, starting their industry in the late 1970s. The most common species of aquatic animals used in farming include common carp, catfish, and Nile tilapia.

Aquaculture and inland water capture fisheries are 26% of the country’s total fish production. In 2003, 480 762 ha was dedicated to the area for brackish water development. This included shrimp farming (40%), milkfish (30%), and polyculture of shrimp and milkfish (30%).

“In 2003 the total area for freshwater aquaculture reached 250 276 ha with an annual growth of 2.05%. The contribution of paddy fields was the highest (60%) with an area of 151 414 ha, followed by ponds (39%) reaching 97 821 ha. Freshwater aquaculture produced 472 973 tonnes in 2003 compared to 334 085 tonnes in 1999, an increase of 9.09% per year. The growth in production is assumed to be a result of the expansion of the pond culture area by using derelict ponds and excavating new ones, while increased productivity was mainly a result of technological innovations. The five provinces that were the main producers of freshwater fish were West Java (34%), East Java (13%), West Sumatra (8%), Central Java (7%), and South Sumatra (5%).”

Group of Pink and White Fish by Pixabay from Pexels

Market Demand

During 1999-2003, total aquaculture production increased to 1 228 559 tonnes. The fishery international trade exceeded the growth in total fish production in the world. Indonesia is the third-largest fish producer in the world after China (60.2%) and India (5.82%).

“Export of fisheries products (including export from capture and culture fisheries) increased steadily during the period 1999-2003. The total volume increased by 10.53 percent per year, from 644 604 tonnes in 1999 to 857 783 tonnes in 2003. By value, the annual growth rate was about 0.66%, from US$ 1 605 421 thousand in 1999 to US$ 1 643 542 thousand in 2003.

The export market can be further developed because Indonesia has various fish species and processed products which are in high demand abroad. For example, the main exports from aquaculture are shrimp (unfrozen, frozen, and canned), crabs (unfrozen, frozen, and canned), frog legs (fresh or chilled), seaweed (dried), ornamental fish (freshwater and mariculture), mollusks (scallops and snails), pearls and others, including capture products such as tuna, jellyfish and coral fish as well as fish fat/oil and shrimp crackers.”

In 2003, it was reported that Indonesia exported seafood products to more than 210 countries, mainly to Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, the USA, France, South Korea, China, etc.

“Shrimp from both aquaculture and capture fisheries plays an important role in exports, contributing 52 percent by value and 16 percent by volume in 2003. The volume exported increased by 6 percent per year, from 109 651 tonnes in 1999 up to 137 636 tonnes in 2003. In fact, the average price for Indonesian shrimp exports decreased by 6.24 percent per year, from US$ 8.11 per kg in 1999 down to US$ 6.18 per kg in 2003.

Grouper is the most expensive of the coral fishes. Local demand is rather limited. Nowadays, production from ASEAN countries such as Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, and Malaysia is exported live by air. Within Asian countries, Japan is the most important market for live fish. Grouper is also popular in Hong Kong, Taiwan Province of China, Korea, and Singapore. Transporting live fish to markets that are sometimes a hundred miles away may cause stress in fish, which requires special attention. For this purpose, basic considerations for efficient transport and marketing of live groupers should be planned and implemented.

Traditional fish marketing channels dominate in rural areas. Most fish products, whether fresh or dried (processed) are distributed through the traditional marketing system and usually end up in the domestic market. Producers for export have functional links to large-scale, industrial-type seafood companies which operate under a vertical integration of sales, with all activities handled by the companies. Shrimp companies operate under a nucleus estate scheme, with joint venture agreements with fish farmers whose produce is purchased by the companies for export.

In the traditional fish marketing system, fish products change hands several times until the point of the last sale. A lot of people are involved in the purchase and distribution, from fresh fish to processed fish products, to the retailer. In the remote areas, access to fresh fish distribution channels is limited, so fish is marketed in some processed form, for example, traditional salting and sun-drying or boiling in water with large quantities of salt.”

Read more: National Aquaculture Sector Overview: Indonesia

Fresh Prawns by Tom Fisk from Pexels

Fisheries Law

The Fisheries Law in Indonesia provides that fish is “all kinds of organisms, all or part of which life cycle is in the watery areas.” (Art. 1(4)) The Indonesian fish cultivation territory for fish catching and/or breeding consists of Indonesia territorial waters, ZEEI, rivers, lakes, water reservoirs, swamps, and other watery areas, which can be operated, and potential fish breeding areas in the Indonesian territory. The Law prohibits fish catching and/or breeding by chemical substances, biological substances, explosives, means and/or methods, and/or structures, “which may harm and/or damage the conservation of fish resources and/or the environment thereof in the Indonesian fish cultivation territory.” (Art. 8(1)) Article 12 also does not allow any actions that will cause pollution and/or damage to fish resources and the environment thereof in the Indonesia fish cultivation territory. Fish breeding that may endanger fish resources and the environment thereof and/or human health in the Indonesian fish cultivation territory is prohibited. Moreover, the Law regulates the fishery business operations, including fishing vessel operations in the waters. (Chapter V)

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