As part of the efforts to promote resilient livelihoods in coastal communities of North Maluku Province, the USAID Sustainable Ecosystems Advanced Project (USAID SEA) launched the Fair Trade (FT) and Fisheries program on 25 July 2017 in Ternate, North Maluku. The launch was attended by local government who was represented by Vice Governor Nasir Thaib and Head of North Maluku Marine Affairs and Fisheries Office (DKP) Buyung Radjiloen.
“We are optimistic that this partnership between USAID and North Maluku Government will contribute to advancing fishery sector in the province while at the same time improve the livelihood of communities in North Maluku,” the Vice Governor extended his support to the project.
Implemented by MDPI as one of the project implementing partners, the Fair Trade program focuses on yellowfin tuna commodity in Pulau Bisa, Obi Utara District, South Halmahera. MDPI brought its successful experience when it implemented the pilot project of Fair Trade in Maluku. In October 2014 the Maluku handline tuna fishery was certified at entry level and was the first functioning Fair Trade and certified for capture fisheries in the world.
The certification process is a six-year system, with continuous improvements and third party audits required on an annual basis. The world’s first Fair Trade certified seafood, in this case yellowfin tuna, is now available in >1000 Safeway and Hy-Vee stores as well as in many well-known restaurants across the U.S, recognizable with the Fair Trade USA logo.
North Maluku was chosen because of its fish potential by small-scale fishermen (1 GT (Gross Tonnage) – 2 GT) using environmentally friendly handline fishing gear (a single nylon line with a hook). To participate in this program, fishermen are required to form their selves in a Fishers Association (FA). Until now, there are 36 FAs participating in this program throughout Indonesia.
The challenge of starting the new site for the FT Program in Pulau Bisa is about trust. At first, fishermen were skeptical about the program. Therefore, at an initial stage, MDPI has focused its efforts on building the fishermen trust and understanding on what benefits they could gain if they are committed to participating in the program. Currently, 4 FAs were formed: FA Tuna Jaya, FA Tanjung Tuna, FA Usaha Bersama and FA Beringin. Through the FT Program, fishermen’s livelihood is expected to improve as well as the living standard of the community.
“In our village we still don’t have access to electricity. It is very challenging to ensure the ice supply which is very crucial to maintain fish quality. We hope by participating in the program, we could overcome the challenge and improve our fish quality. Last week 4 FAs were established and the next step is we will participate in a series of training,” says La Muda, the Head of Beringin Jaya Fishers Association from Obi village, South Halmahera.
Through Fair Trade, the producers, in this case the fishermen, will get a decent price for each kg fish they sell as well as Fair Trade premium fund paid by the consumers who buy their Fair Trade products. The calculation of Premium Fund is 0.3 USD from each 1 kilogram fish sold from the dock price. This premium fund will be managed by the Fair Trade Committee and it will be utilized for various community projects, including a 30% contribution to environmentally focused projects such as planting trees, sea turtle conservation, and many more. The rest of it can be utilized to support the needs of fishermen and social programs such as improving village infrastructure, repairing mosques, and providing scholarships for children.
The utilization of Fair Trade premium fund for community projects could eventually build the fishers pride and empower them who used to be underestimated. By participating in the fair trade program, the fishers will be able to improve confidence by realizing the fact that they could give a noteworthy contribution to the community.
On the other hand, consumers get their own satisfaction for buying products with Fair Trade label. They know that behind the label there are stories and hard work done by the fishermen. By buying Fair Trade certified seafood, it also means that they have contributed in the efforts of promoting sustainable fisheries to preserve the ecosystem, for a better world.