The partnership of the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries with SAFE Seas Project to Protect the Rights of Indonesian Fishing Crews

Many violations of the Fishing Crews’ rights are still occurring domestically and abroad. Ironically, the legal process for the perpetrators and compensation for the fulfillment of the rights of the victims have not been carried out optimally.

In March 2021, as many as seven fishing crews were stranded at the Merauke Fishing Port who were suspected of being victims of forced labor practices. In 2020, it was recorded that 22 Indonesian fishing crews died on foreign-flagged ships. The majority of those who died were victims of forced labor practices and human trafficking.

In the field, fishing crews often work in an environment that is close to hazards and an unhygienic workspace. Even so, this profession is still categorized as informal work. Therefore, the rights of workers in the fishing boat industry must still be protected by the government to provide decent and adequate employment opportunities for the welfare of coastal communities.

Their rights and work system have been stated in various regulations of the Government of Indonesia. Coordinator of the Fishing Ship Manning Group, Directorate General of Capture Fisheries, Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Muhammad Iqbal, explained that fishing crews in Indonesia has been regulated in Minister of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Regulation (Permen KP) Number 42 of 2016 concerning Sea Work Agreements for Fishing Crews.

The contents of the ministerial regulation are related to work requirements, work agreements, payroll/wage systems, social security, and documents that must be owned by fishing crews. In its implementation, the ministry has required every fishing vessel to make a Sea Work Agreement (PKL) between the owner and the fishing crews as a requirement for the issuance of a Sailing Approval Letter. In addition, it is mandatory to have social security that has been served by BPJS Employment at fishing port locations.

Meanwhile, for the domestic protection efforts, including aspects of prevention, protection, improvement, and law enforcement, are contained in Government Regulation Number 27 of 2021 concerning the Implementation of the Marine and Fisheries Sector, the Minister of Marine Affairs and Fisheries Regulation Number 35 of 2015 concerning Human Rights System and Certification in Fisheries Business, Ministerial Regulation Number 42 of 2016 concerning Sea Work Agreements for Fishery Vessel Crews, and Ministerial Regulation Number 2 of 2017 concerning Requirements and Mechanisms of Human Rights Certification in Fisheries Business.

Iqbal stated that the existence of the SAFE Seas Project supports the government's efforts to provide protection. This can be seen in the implementation activities of Ministerial Regulation Number 35 of 2015, including project achievements in the form of establishing Fishers Centers in Tegal, Central Java and Bitung, North Sulawesi, forming a national team for fishing crews protection, preparation of action plans for fishing crews protection, education and advocacy related to fishing crews rights. and decent working conditions on capture fishing vessels.

The government, through the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries, has had breakthroughs and system innovations in protecting fishing crews, such as providing social security services/providers at port locations and issuing regulations related to fisheries' human rights.

Data from the Central Statistics Agency shows that fishery economic growth in the first quarter of 2020 reached 3.52%. The value of Fishery Gross Domestic Product at constant prices in 2010 in the first quarter of 2020 reached 64,495 billion rupiahs. Indeed, based on these data, it can be seen that fishery economic growth in the first quarter of the 2014-2020 period tends to slow down. However, fishery economic growth in the first quarter of 2020 was the lowest in the last 6 years.

In 2018, the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries noted that the number of marine fishermen in Indonesia was 1,685,018 people. According to data from the Fishers Center SAFE Seas Project, of the 45 complaints submitted, there were 14 cases involving domestic fishing crews and 31 cases overseas. 58% of cases related to forced labor and human trafficking in the 2019-2020 period have been resolved and 42% are still in the process of being resolved.

Iqbal added that the role of the SAFE Seas Project in protecting the fishing crews is very central. Therefore, synergy is needed in socialization and education efforts related to the protection of fishing crews' rights. In this case, the SAFE Seas Project has carried out socialization and education in various regions to implement government regulations and encourage the fulfillment of fishing crews’ rights in carrying out their profession. More than that, the SAFE Seas Project formed partners in the regions as an extension of the arm to facilitate and mediate colleagues and families of fellow crew members who had not been touched by socialization and education activities.