Improving the Sustainability of Indonesia’s Deepwater Fisheries

Since 2016, USAID’s Supporting Nature and People Partnerships for Enduring Resources (SNAPPER) has worked throughout Indonesia to improve the sustainability of Indonesia’s deepwater fisheries.

Under a Global Development Alliance, USAID partners with the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation to co-fund USAID SNAPPER, which is implemented by Yayasan Konservasi Alam Nusantara, The Nature Conservancy’s Indonesian affiliate. SNAPPER works with communities and fishing companies to prevent overfishing and to enhance fisheries regulation and controls. 

In collaboration with Indonesia’s Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries (MMAF), SNAPPER has implemented training and collaborated with fishing companies to maximize their use of voluntary sustainable measures – including setting minimum landing sizes for fish to ensure that only the older, mature fish are caught, leaving juveniles behind for future breeding. These actions include limiting the number of fishing vessels allowed to fish in a certain area, at a given time. USAID SNAPPER’s efforts have transformed the target snapper-grouper fishery from a data poor fishery into a data rich fishery. Between 2016 and 2021, 439 fishers (four to five percent of the total active snapper boats in Indonesia) used an innovative data collection program called the Crew-Operated Data Recording System to collect over 4.5 million images and record data on 8.5 million tonnes of total catch. MMAF has used this data to develop evidence-based snapper-grouper fisheries management plans and policies. One example is the interim Harvest Strategy for snapper and grouper fisheries in Fisheries Management Area 713 and Indonesia’s National Snapper-Grouper Fisheries Management Plan.

In December 2021, MMAF issued Ministerial Decree No. 123/2021 on Snapper Grouper Fisheries Management Plan,indicating political support and commitment to continuing to improve snapper-grouper fisheries management in Indonesia, supporting MMAF’s priority policies (measurable fisheries) for the capture fisheries sector. The formalization of this fisheries management plan by decree is an important step as many of the key species and fishing grounds for these fisheries are overexploited. This fisheries management plan lays out strategies and necessary actions to improve the sustainability of Indonesian snapper-grouper fisheries, including fisheries data monitoring, limiting the catch of juveniles, and strengthening the management of regional fisheries management councils. 

Since the decree, USAID SNAPPER has engaged 14 buyers and processing companies to implement sustainability measures in the supply chain. These measures include improving product traceability, reducing plastic waste in the supply line, and minimizing unreported shark bycatch. In addition, six of the 14 companies have committed to limiting the number of juvenile fish caught to less than five percent across their supply chains. This commitment, combined with the use of the Crew-Operated Data Recording System, has earned the Indonesian snapper-grouper fisheries an “A” ranking by, meaning that the target fisheries have demonstrated improvements in policy, management, or fishing practices with proper documentation. 

Currently, USAID SNAPPER is working with the MMAF’s research agency (Badan Riset Perikanan Laut) to develop a digital storage platform. This platform will allow other research agencies, fishing companies, and non-governmental organizations to contribute to MMAF’s fish data monitoring program. This digital storage platform aims to generate comprehensive stock assessment reports that will inform scientific publications on snapper-grouper fisheries, as well as be used by the MMAF, scientists, and fisheries managers to formulate harvest strategies for priority Indonesian Fisheries Management Areas.