Thousands of fishermen protest outside the Presidential Palace in Jakarta on Jan. 17 to demand the government to lift a ban on using controversial seine nets. (Photo supplied)
The Indonesian government has lifted a ban on the use of a controversial trawler net following protests by fishermen.
Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti issued the ban on seine nets in 2015, arguing it was destructive to coral reefs and maritime ecosystems in general.
The net hangs vertically in the water with its bottom edge held down by weights and its top edge buoyed by floats. As it is pulled along, the bottom edge scrapes along the seabed or across coral and catches everything in its path.
The effect of the ban, however, saw use of the net increase with more than 17,000 fishermen using them in 2017 as opposed to the nearly 6,000 using it when the ban was introduced.
Despite flouting the ban more than 1,500 fishermen marched on the presidential palace in Jakarta on Jan. 17, calling for the ban to be lifted. They say the net provides bigger catches and that their income suffers if they do not use them.
A meeting with President Joko Widodo and the minister, resulted in the government allowing fishermen to temporarily use the nets on condition they phase them out by gradually switching to more environmentally friendly fishing equipment. New vessels will not be fitted with the controversial net.
Fishermen's spokesman Hadi Santoso, welcomed the government's decision.
"Serious attention needs to be paid to the welfare of fishermen," he said.