Indonesia’s Sea Policy: Export Resumption and Deprivation of Environmental Rights

Jakarta, Indonesia

Indonesia, a Southeast Asian nation known for its diverse marine ecosystems and abundant natural resources, faces the challenge of balancing economic development with environmental conservation. The country’s seafood exports have provided jobs and economic opportunities for millions of Indonesians, but they also come at a significant environmental cost.

Indonesia has faced numerous challenges in regulating its fishing industry, including illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) practices that lead to overfishing and depletion of marine stocks. In 2014, Indonesia implemented a ban on foreign vessels fishing in its waters, which was hailed by environmentalists as a step in the right direction to protect Indonesia’s fragile marine ecosystems.

However, this ban also had adverse economic consequences, causing tensions with neighbouring countries and sparking diplomatic disputes. To achieve a harmonious balance, Indonesia must prioritize sustainable fishing practices, invest in modern technology to monitor fishing activities and strengthen international cooperation to combat IUU fishing.

Transparency and accountability in the fishing industry are essential, and the government must work closely with environmental organizations, local communities, and international partners to ensure economic gains do not come at the expense of Indonesia’s natural heritage.

The world will closely watch Indonesia’s next moves, as whether it prioritizes short-term economic gains or the long-term health of its marine environment will affect its future and serve as a global example of how nations can navigate the complex waters of economic development and environmental preservation. Indonesia’s choices will determine the fate of its seas and the environmental rights of its people.

The UN General Assembly has approved a resolution recognizing the right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment as a human right. This declaration acknowledges the harmony between human life and nature and calls for greater justice and accountability of relevant actors.

However, the fight for a healthy environment has been challenging in developing countries due to economic development neglecting environmental issues. Cleared forests, polluted water, and air pollution negatively impact local communities, leading to livelihood loss and deprivation of rights.

The recent Government Regulation (Peraturan Presiden) No. 26/2023, which opens export taps for sea sand, has caused controversy and sparked pro and con reactions. Skolimowski’s eco-cosmology suggests raising responsibility for justice and sustainability for the universe, requiring a conscious reciprocal relationship with nature and raising ecological awareness. This perspective renews anthropocentrism, viewing nature as a sanctuary for human activities.

Public participation is a vital aspect of democracy, promoting environmental responsibility and improving policy quality, cost efficiency, consensus, coordination, and trust. It requires principles such as everyone’s right to be involved, public contributions influencing policies, sustainability, communication of interests, public feedback, objective information, and intensive discussion space.

Arnstein’s eight rungs, including non-participation, tokenism, and citizen power, provide further depth to public participation. Access to information and justice are two rights that demand public participation. The export policy in Indonesia is criticized for its lack of public participation and non-transparent policy-making processes.

The policy’s lack of government invitation and access to academic studies raises concerns about potential ecological impacts. Additionally, the policy fails to mention the existence of fishermen, who are the closest profession to the sea, and any changes in the sea could impact them.

The government’s arbitrary actions in making policies can be considered manipulation, as they are not based on mature academic data and analysis. However, the public can still participate in social movements, as the essence of a social movement is for individuals and groups to unite for a common cause.

The community, along with NGOs, should create a coalition to push for a review of the sea sand export policy, ensuring that local elements, such as fishermen’s interests, are given high attention by the government. The community should not be silent about the potential betrayal of human rights, but encourage the government to respond through social movements.

The government should conduct a review of the sea sand export policy, involving broad public participation, including fishermen, academics, and environmental organizations, and considering the possible ecological and social impacts. The review should ensure the policy does not conflict with the right to a healthy environment.

A Controversial Resumption

Indonesia has lifted its ban on certain fish exports, arguing it is essential for the country’s economy, especially post-pandemic. Proponents argue responsible fishing practices and sustainable management can mitigate environmental damage and ensure economic growth.

However, environmentalists and critics argue that this move may lead to further depletion of marine resources and harm to fragile ecosystems, as lax regulations or inadequate enforcement may result in further harm.

The Deprivation of Environmental Rights

The debate revolves around whether economic interests should prioritize environmental conservation over economic development. Indonesia faces the challenge of balancing economic growth with environmental protection.

Sustainable practices and robust regulations are needed to preserve Indonesia’s marine ecosystems for future generations. The resumption of exports without adequate safeguards could be seen as a deprivation of environmental rights for the Indonesian people and the global community.

Environmental Impacts of Sea: A Valuable Natural Resource

Sea sand, a crucial component in the construction sector, is abundant in Indonesia, with its coastline providing an endless supply. In 2007, Indonesia banned sea sand exports to protect its coastal environment and marine ecosystems.

However, recent pushes have led to the lifting of this ban, primarily due to demand from neighbouring countries like Singapore and Malaysia.

The resumption of sea sand exports may seem economically lucrative, but it comes with significant environmental costs. Environmentalists argue that unregulated extraction can lead to coastal erosion, habitat destruction, loss of livelihoods for fishing communities, and water pollution.

These issues highlight the need for environmental rights and justice in Indonesia, as indigenous and coastal communities have a deep connection to their environment and depend on its resources for their survival.

The resumption of sea sand exports raises questions about environmental rights and justice in Indonesia, as indigenous and coastal communities have a deep connection to their environment.

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