John Burton: The importance of promoting Indonesia's fisheries at the Seafood Expo Global, Brussels

Chairman John Burton talks about the importance of attending industry events like the Seafood Expo Global (SEG) and how these events can support Indonesia's fisheries
Emily Howgate and John Burton at the canape event

In April this year, IPNLF attended the Seafood Expo Global (SEG) in Brussels. IPNLF regularly attend this expo as it gives us opportunity to network and foster collaboration with industry, governments and other NGOs. Events like this allow new partnerships to be forged.

In 2014, IPNLF Member Anova Foods BV kindly co-hosted an event with the Indonesian Ministry of Marine Affairs (MMAF) and IPNLF, to promote the hard work being done to develop and support one-by-one fisheries in Indonesia. This was very successful and highly attended, and so we decided that the SEG this year would be another key opportunity to promote Indonesia’s fisheries.

Why Indonesia? Indonesia is a keystone in the international tuna supply chain. As a large archipelagic nation, tuna fisheries are vital for coastal economic development, ensuring job creation in catching and onshore processing sectors, as well as many thousands of indirect jobs. Not only is Indonesia one of the fastest growing economies in the world, but also approximately 100,000 tonnes of pole-and-line caught tuna is landed here.

Now is a very exciting time for Indonesia and her fisheries. Minister of Fisheries Susi Pudjiastuti has made a firm commitment to fighting illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing that occurs in Indonesia’s waters, and brings unbridled passion to her role.

Further to that, the pole-and-line and hand-line Fisheries Improvement Projects (FIP) are continuing to develop, with many programs underway including research into baitfish management, trials for use of milkfish as bait onboard pole-and-line vessels, a new proactive vessel register (PVR) and training of trainers that will spread good practice throughout the fisheries. The fisheries in the FIP are getting closer to commencing Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) full assessment; currently undergoing an annual review of progress – the summary report is available here.

Alongside all this good work, Indonesia and its fishing communities need to see the demand from the global market. It’s all well and good me saying there is demand, but evidencing this is very important, so at Brussels we accomplished this in two ways.

Firstly, IPNLF brought our key buyer members to meet core members of the Indonesian delegation, including DG of Marketing Pak Saut Hutagalung and AP2HI’s Chair Yanti Djuari. This hour-long roundtable allowed these market players who are deeply engaged in Indonesian tuna to sit together and solidify their relationships. Our members Frinsa, Migros, Anova, Marks & Spencer and Waitrose were all in attendance – and we hope to organise more meetings such as this in the future!

After this, we held a successful networking reception on the MMAF stand, which was absolutely packed tight with supporters of Indonesia’s fisheries. Here I must take a quick aside to say thank you to the hard work of those at MMAF, IPNLF, Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP), WWF and Masyarakat dan Perikanan Indonesia (MDPI) coordinating the event and to the speakers who so passionately shared their stories of pole-and-line and hand-line. Pak Saut expressed to one of my colleagues at IPNLF that he was absolutely overwhelmed by the market support who joined us that evening.

We were lucky to have a number of wonderful speakers join Pak Saut Hutagalung, Director General of Fisheries Packaging and Processing, and myself in sharing the story of one-by-one fishing methods, including Hugo Verhoven, from the Centre for the Promotion of Imports from Developing Countries (CBI), of the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Christine Schmiek of UNIDO; Jim Cannon, CEO of SFP; Yanti Djuari, Chair of Asoasi Perikanan Pole & Line dan Handline Indonesia (AP2HI); and Momo Kochen, Director of Research and Programs at MDPI.

The theme running through all the presentations was of trust and traceability, essential elements for a robust supply chain. By showing the integrity of pole-and-line tuna, we can build trust and secure value for the communities who rely on these fisheries as well as the businesses through the supply chain. This is why Fisheries Improvement Projects with the end-goal of Marine Stewardship Certification are important; they help us demonstrate the benefits of pole-and-line, and further develop the market for responsibly caught Indonesian tuna. IPNLF and our partners recognise how intertwined the success of fisheries, communities and businesses are - and by investing in development projects that advance environmental sustainability, social well being and traceability all stakeholders can benefit from improved trust, reliability and success.

Here you can view a number of the photos taken at the event, but let me sign off by thanking all those people who showed their support of Indonesia’s fisheries by attending the reception. Looking forward to seeing many of you at the International Coastal Tuna Business Forum next week!