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Legal Updates

Amendment to the Fisheries Law

The government reinforces its commitment to the fisheries sector and Indonesian fisherman through the amendment to Law No. 31 of 2004 on Fisheries. The new Law, Law No. 45 of 2009, includes amendments enacted with a view to driving sustainable growth in the fisheries industry while simultaneously protecting Indonesia and Indonesians from the threat of illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing practices.

The government has a period of 12 months from the date of enactment of this law to put into place all the necessary implementing regulations.

Generally, the law deals with 4 specific matters:

1.    Fisheries management;

2.    Providing favorable treatment to local small-scale fishermen and small fish cultivation farmers;

3.    Expansion of the fisheries courts' jurisdiction to include all relevant areas within the country; and

4.    Supervision and legal enforcement.

The amendments to the Law explicitly require those that own and operate fishing vessels bearing the Indonesian flag to be licensed. This license is a Fishing License (Surat Izin Penangkapan Ikan/SIPI). However, the Law clearly exempts small scale fishing vessel operators from the need to hold a SIPI. Furthermore, the Law also exempts small scale fishing vessel operators and small scale fish farmers from the need to hold a Fishing Vessel License (Surat Izin Kapal Penangkapan Ikan / SIKPI). It must be noted, that those that are required to hold these licenses are also required to be in possession of the originals at all times when fishing.

Article 28A provides explicit prohibitions on the falsifying of fishing license documents.

Interestingly, the Law requires that Indonesian-flagged fishing vessels must also use an Indonesian captain and crew. There are administrative sanctions for failure to comply with this provision.

The amended Law expands the jurisdiction of the Fisheries Courts to encompass all of Indonesia's territorial waters and exclusive maritime zones. The jurisdiction of the court includes not only citizens of Indonesia but also foreign nationals who are charged with having committed a crime in an area where the court has jurisdiction.

With respect to law enforcement, the amended Law provides for armed guard vessels for supervising and ensuring compliance within the waters of Indonesia. The vessels have broad powers to stop, search, and detain fishing vessels that are alleged to have breached provisions of the Indonesian fishing laws and regulations. It is worth noting that these broad powers also include the power to burn and scuttle foreign-flagged vessels caught violating the law. These powers can be exercised when the guard vessel is satisfied that there is sufficient preliminary evidence of the breach alleged.

The new law also sets out some additional criminal sanctions for breaches of the provisions of the law. These include periods of incarceration and fines.

The law has been in force since 29 October 2009.

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