Indonesia mulls lifting lobster larvae export ban in return for investment

Exports of lobster larvae were halted in 2016 to prevent over-exploitation, but were reopened in 2020 under former fisheries minister Edhy Prabowo.

Yohana Belinda

Yohana Belinda

The Jakarta Post



December 21, 2023

JAKARTA – The Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry is seeking to reopen lobster larvae exports, saying it would permit shipments to countries willing to make investments in aquaculture cultivation in Indonesia, as quoted from Kompas.

Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Sakti Wahyu Trenggono said Vietnam had been the prime destination for Indonesia’s lobster larvae exports, adding that he estimated shipments to the country could be worth US$2.5 billion despite the commodity taking the form of larvae rather than fully grown lobsters.

“They [Vietnam] need to invest first or engage in cultivation here, so that we [in Indonesia] can also reap the benefits, and we can achieve a multiplier effect as well. Afterward, if everything is successful, we will conduct a further review,” Sakti told reporters on Monday.

Exports of lobster larvae were halted in 2016 to prevent over-exploitation, but were reopened in 2020 under former fisheries minister Edhy Prabowo.

However, the ministry reimposed the ban in mid-2021, which has remained in effect until now, following the conviction of Edhy, who was sentenced to five years in prison for accepting bribes in exchange for issuing export licenses.

Sakti defended the plan, saying lobster larvae smuggling had become rife since the ban was enacted.

Thus, he claimed the government could consider reopening the exports, but promised it would be accompanied by efforts to attract investors in the domestic aquaculture sector.

Sakti also hoped to conclude the review process of reopening exports next year, as quoted from Bisnis.

According to the ministry’s aquaculture director general, TB Haeru Rahayu, the ministry is currently formulating a specific ministerial regulation for the export of lobster larvae. He added that the regulation was also undergoing public consultation.

However, Haeru is pessimistic about whether the ministry can complete and implement the regulation in 2024, due to its rigorous process.

“In every policy change and regulation, there are steps from the technical directorate to the secretary-general. After a public consultation, the document is returned for refinement, followed by harmonization with the Law and Human Rights Ministry,” he said, as quoted from Kompas.

“Later there will be public consultation and there are other steps,” he said.

Haeru added that one of the reasons that the government considered reopening the exports was the desire to boost lobster cultivation within the country.

“There are many reasons, but one of them is that we want to improve our own natural resources. In Vietnam 99 percent of the lobster larvae came from Indonesia,” Haeru said.

Previously, the ministry laid out possible schemes to reopen the exports, saying it would promote technological exchanges, to develop the domestic aquaculture sector.

The proposed regulation will also require exporters who purchase wild-caught lobster larvae from fishermen to ensure that a specified number of larvae are released from fish farms into the wild to replenish the population.

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