Foreign vessels restricted to spur local shipbuilding

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Starting next year, the government will begin restricting foreign vessels transporting domestic aquaculture products in Indonesian waters to encourage growth for domestic shipbuilders, the government says.

Foreign-flagged transportation vessels — usually tramp service ships — will be required to wait at specified checkpoints to receive live fish cargo from locally manufactured vessels, according to a circular letter on aquaculture-vessel licensing issued recently.

The checkpoint ports are located in Kendari in Southeast Sulawesi, Anambas in Batam, Kijang in the Riau Islands as well as one in Lampung, according to the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry’s director for aquaculture business, Balok Budiyanto.

“Foreign transportation vessels will have to dock there while awaiting local ships to collect their cargo from fish farms and aquaculture production centers,” Balok told The Jakarta Post recently.

The government is looking to phase out all foreign-owned and foreign-made vessels in the future, Balok said, ensuring that the local shipbuilding industry would have a market to supply.

“To jump-start local businesses, the ministry will support the procurement of local transportation vessels and restrict the number of foreign-flagged ships — maybe even ban them altogether,” he said.

“In the future, all transportation ships will be Indonesian-flagged. For now we’ll be granting licenses based on necessity, after analyzing demand from production centers,” the director explained.

Balok gave his assurances that foreign ships currently operating in the country would still be able to go about their business until the restriction is formalized.

There are currently only 25 tramp service ships registered for aquaculture use in the country, 11 of which are foreign-flagged vessels from Hong Kong waiting on outbound deliveries.

According to marine expert Yonvitner, direct access to production centers is crucial for maintaining the quality of live fish cargo, as additional transit to other ports means greater risks like death or eroded quality and diminished value of the marine products.

The Bogor Institute of Agriculture (IPB) scholar feared that the government’s commitment to developing the shipbuilding industry for fisheries was merely hypothetical.

To prove its commitment, he said that the government should “map out” the sector’s production potential, design large-capacity transportation for direct market access, create a shipyard industry blueprint for fisheries and devise a suitable export strategy.

 

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