National Congress of the Indonesian Traditional Fisherfolks Union (KNTI) IV 2022: Collaborative Action to Fulfill the Rights of Traditional Fishers Towards an Independent, Just, Prosperous, and Sustainable Indonesia

Why small and traditional fishers? They are 96% of Indonesian fishers. They are the ones who ensure the availability of fish supply, both for domestic consumption and industry. These supplies further ensures that pregnant women and their fetuses are healthy; Indonesian children are stronger and have higher intelligence; and for parents to avoid diseases such as coronary heart disease.

The Indonesian Traditional Fishers’ Union (KNTI) is a community organization based on membership of small scale fishers, fish cultivators, and people salt farmers, as well as small-scale fish processing business actors located in 40 Regencies/Cities in Indonesia.

KNTI was founded in 2009 and is a platform for struggle to ensure that small and traditional fisherfolks in Indonesia become part of the nation’s great interests: ensuring food for all citizens, job creation, welfare, and sustainability of the marine and coastal environment. This is where the importance of small fisherfolks for having their access to sea waters to remain open. Instead of being separated between public and private areas. Because without the sea, there are no fishers. No fish. There is no healthy source of animal protein for citizens. There is no future.

Small fisherfolks must also be ensured easy access to subsidized fuel (since 60% of seafaring cost is to purchase fuel). Ensure that the aquatic environment is clean and healthy. If we don’t control waste disposal into the sea immediately, then by 2050, there are four times more waste in the sea than the fish. This would pose a major threat to the environment and health, especially if plastic waste were to enter the human food chain.

On July 19-21, 2022, KNTI held its 4th National Congress (Munas IV) in Jakarta and Bogor. This is the organization’s highest forum and is held every 5 years. This activity was attended by about 150 fishermen and fisherwomen leaders at the national and regional levels to formulate and establish organizational rules and prepare a strategic agenda to strengthen the agenda for the protection of small scale fishers at the local, national, and international levels.

At this event, a policy dialogue was conducted between fishers and state policy stakeholders at the national level to strengthen collaboration in addressing challenges and the commitment of policy stakeholders in the implementation of protection and empowerment agenda of traditional and small fishers, fish cultivators, and salt farmers in Indonesia. Present in this event are the Minister of Cooperatives and SMEs of the Republic of Indonesia, the Minister of State-Owned Enterprises, the President’s Staff Office representative, the Director General of Catch Fisheries, the Director General of Marine Spatial Management of the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries, and other stakeholders in the fisheries and marine sector in Indonesia. On this occasion, commitments from the Indonesian government were made to ensure the fulfillment of subsidized fuel for small fishers, access to capital, strengthening fishing cooperatives, and protection of small fishing areas.

The KNTI National Congress also became a momentum for the celebration of the International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture #IYAFA2022, as well as to encourage the adoption of strong Voluntary Guidelines for securing sustainable small-scale fisheries in the context of food security and poverty eradication and United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasant and Other People Working in Rural Areas by the Indonesian government.

In conjunction with the 4th National Congress of KNTI, the 1st National Congress (Munas I) of the Indonesian Coastal Women’s Union (KPPI) was also held. KPPI is the Autonomous Agency of KNTI, which is a platform for women working in the fisheries sector in Indonesia to fight for their rights and interests in social, political, and economic life at the national, regional, and, village levels. This 1st Munas by KPPI was attended by fisherwomen, women fish processors, women fish traders, and women salt farmers from 16 regencies/cities throughout Indonesia.

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