How to monitor the economic and environmental activity of a territory as vast as Europe, both above water and underwater? Indonesia is in the process of taking up the challenge. With some 8 million km² of archipelago and its myriad of isles, Indonesia is one of the largest exclusive economic zones (EEZ) in the world. EEZ are the maritime areas over which a State exercises sovereign rights. Indonesia’s zone is one of the largest reservoirs of marine biodiversity in the world, with considerable fisheries resources.
With 6 million tons a year and USD 3bn of exports, the country is the world’s second largest producer of seafood products after China, and fifty million Indonesians make their livelihoods from fishing and aquaculture… But illegal fishing has been booming since the 1990s, generating an annual shortfall of several billion dollars. It also leads to an increase in overfishing, which small-scale fishermen are the first to bear the brunt of.
Between economic and environmental issues, the sound management of resources and monitoring of waters under Indonesian control is a crucial issue for the authorities. With the support of AFD and high-level French technological partners, Indonesia has set up a National Spatial Oceanography Center that is unique in the world: INDESO.
It is not only a question of combating illegal fishing, but also of monitoring sensitive habitats, fish populations, and detecting accidental hydrocarbon pollution…
Certain parts of the Indonesian coast are very sensitive to the impacts of climate change. The deterioration of the coastline, the risk of submersion and coral bleaching are now well known, but are not subject to systematic analyses.
INDESO will soon allow the most fragile sites to be identified and, thanks to modelling, it will possible to develop accurate evolution scenarios:
“By monitoring the impacts of the climate, we will have the possibility of more effectively determining public policies and, if possible, of preventing or mitigating the impacts of natural disasters related to this phenomenon”, confirms Dr. I Nyoman Radiarta.
The Coral Triangle straddles six countries, including Indonesia, and accounts for 50% of global marine biodiversity. INDESO also supports the Coral Triangle Initiative, a program gathering these six countries to protect an area as large as Indonesia’s EEZ.
“Indonesia has taken up the challenge of building a more transparent and legal fishing sector”, explains François Henry from AFD. “The neighboring countries, Burma, Vietnam, the Philippines, are considering similar projects. The entire sector is in the process of changing”.