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Indonesia's War On Poachers Hooks Legal Fish Business Too

Fishing in Banda Aceh, Indonesia
Fishing in Banda Aceh, Indonesia

JAKARTA — The Indonesian government has been waging a war on illegal fishing since the election two years ago of President Joko Widodo, who'd vowed to curtail poaching when he was running for office.

But the crackdown on poachers has damaged legal fishermen as well, leading to a fall in fish exports, fewer jobs, and has devastated the fish processing industry, Indonesian English-language daily the Jakarta Post reports.

Illegal fishing costs the Indonesian economy an estimated $20 billion a year. The minister for maritime affairs and fisheries, Susi Pudjiastuti, has embarked on an expansive assault on illegal fishing that includes burning more than a hundred illegal vessels and banning fishing boats from transferring their catch to ships at sea, the paper notes.

The ban was justified on the grounds that ships often carried the catch to ports in the Philippines, Thailand, Taiwan, and China. Ignoring Indonesian ports meant the local fish processing industry didn't get any business. But the ban also targets companies that were never involved in illegal fishing, Jakarta Post reports.

Fish exports collapsed in the last two years, falling from more than $4.5 billion to less than $1.5 billion. In the fishing-dependent eastern Indonesian region of Maluku, the closure of several fishing companies caused unemployment to spike to 7.5%, according to a report from Bank Indonesia, Indonesia's central bank, that was cited by the paper.

Indonesian magazine Tempo writes that the maritime affairs ministry, which announced a plan to build new fish processing facilities in eastern Indonesia, is responding late to the crisis. The new government policy would also aim to provide improved transportation to raise fish prices in the region, which are ten times lower than in capital Jakarta, and lift blue-collar wages, the magazine reports.

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Geopolitics

The Trumpian Virus Undermining Democracy Is Now Spreading Through South America

Taking inspiration from events in the United States over the past four years, rejection of election results and established state institutions is on the rise in Latin America.

Two supporters of far-right Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro dressed in Brazilian flags during a demonstration in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

Bolsonaro supporters dressed in national colours with flags in a demonstration in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, on November 4, 2022.

Ivan Abreu / ZUMA
Carlos Ruckauf*

-Analysis-

BUENOS AIRES — South Africa's Nelson Mandela used to say it was "so easy to break down and destroy. The heroes are those who make peace and build."

Intolerance toward those who think differently, even inside the same political space, is corroding the bases of representative democracy, which is the only system we know that allows us to live and grow in freedom, in spite of its flaws.

Recent events in South America and elsewhere are precisely alerting us to that danger. The most explosive example was in Brazil, where a crowd of thousands managed to storm key institutional premises like the presidential palace, parliament and the Supreme Court.

In Peru, the country's Marxist (now former) president, Pedro Castillo, sought to use the armed and security forces to shut down parliament and halt the Supreme Court and state prosecutors from investigating corruption allegations against him.

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