Ministry Looking to Implement Controversial Sea Zoning Rules
The Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry says it will soon issue a regulation putting into effect a 2007 law on the management and zoning of marine resources..
In line with the law, whose implementation has been delayed by more than a year, the ministry plans to divide the country’s waters into zones reserved for industrial exploitation and conservation, and to set aside other areas for coastal communities.
“We expect that the drafting of the regulation will be finished next month,” Sudirman Saad, the secretary at the ministry’s Directorate General of Coastal and Small Island Management, said on Friday. “Once it is completed, the use of marine areas for purposes other than what they are zoned for will be prohibited.”
Sudirman stressed that the zoning process would involve consultation with the public, including traditional fishermen, academics, local administrations, and the fishing and fish farming industries.
After the consultation process is complete, he said, each local administration would be required to produce its own zoning plan.
To provide information on the new zoning mechanism, the ministry intends to discuss it with the local administrations by the end of the year.
“We will facilitate and help them zone their surrounding waters,” Sudirman said. The local administrations would then be required to issue ordinances establishing the zones.
Waters bordering those of neighboring countries, he said, would be managed by the central government because issues of sovereignty were involved.
Responding to the plan, Riza Damanik, the general secretary of the Fisheries Justice Coalition (Kiara), argued that the implementation of the law was a recipe for conflict.
The zoning approach, Riza said, had been tried in other sectors of the economy.
“We must not sell off the oceans like the government did with the forestry and mining industries,” he said.
Riza said the legislation neglected the rights of traditional fishermen and coastal residents to manage resources based on customary practices. Furthermore, he added, traditional fishermen worried that zoning would have an adverse impact on their fishing grounds.
Hasyim Djalal, an expert on international maritime law, also expressed concern.
He said that the country’s waters should be managed in an integrated way, rather than what he called the “fragmented manner” envisaged by the law.
For its part, the government has argued that the law will increase investment and improve the economic prospects of coastal communities.
Bye: Arti Ekawati