Indonesia Fishery and Aquaculture Profiles

Indonesia is the world’s largest archipelagic State with some 17 508 islands (of which 6 000 are inhabited), and 54 716 km of coastline, and the world’s fourth most populous nation (247.5 million).

In 2012, Indonesia’s fishery production reached approximately 8.9 million tonnes, of which inland and marine catch accounted for about 5.8 million tonnes and aquaculture 3.1 million tonnes in addition to 6.5 million tonnes of seaweeds. About 95 percent of fishery production comes from artisanal fishermen. In 2012, around 6.4 million people were engaged in inland and marine fishing and fish farming. The marine fishing fleet comprised 620 830 vessels in 2012, with 28 percent of non-powered boats and 39 percent of out-board engine. An additional 184 900 vessels (of which 23 percent had engine) composed the fleet operating in inland waters.

An important proportion of the catch is consumed in dried, salted, smoked, boiled or fermented form, while 46 percent is consumed fresh. About 54 percent of the animal protein supply comes from fish and seafood. Per caput annual consumption has risen from an average of 10.6 kg in the 1970s to the current 28.9 kg (2011). In 2013, the total value of exported fishery commodities was USD 3.8 billion, while imports to the country amounted to USD 0.4 billion. The fishing industry accounted for 21 percent of Indonesia’s agricultural economy and 3 percent of national GDP in 2012.

The following constraints affect fisheries management and aquaculture development: overfishing in both marine and inland fisheries waters; low income and standard of living for fishers and fish farmers; lack of financial support in terms of credit schemes; weak fisheries management, particularly concerning monitoring, surveillance and enforcement (MCS). Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing is a major problem in the country.

To address these issues the National Mid Term Priority Framework (2010-2014) has set the following priorities: community development and empowerment through programmes for small-scale fishers and fish farmers in coastal and small island areas; mitigation and adaptation strategies to climate change for the marine and fisheries sector; improvement of the quality and profitability of fish products for small-scale fishers; improvement of fishery-related infrastructure; strengthened MCS systems to improve management and combat IUU fishing; strengthening human resource capacity.

Marine sub-sector
Catch profile

Being in the tropics, catches are multispecies in nature comprising demersal and pelagic species, such as: snappers, groupers, sweetlips, mackerels, scads, anchovies, tunas (mostly skipjack, yellowfin, bigeye), penaeid shrimp, squids, and others.

The Indonesian fisheries administration records the annual catch by commodities and by fishing gear. Statistics showing the number of fishing vessels and fishing gear are also available. For the last five years the annual catch is also presented for eleven statistical areas (also called “management areas”).

Landing sites

Most catches are landed in fishing ports. Only a small share of the catch is landed in public commercial ports that do not have facilities for fishing vessels. There are six large fishing ports, 14 located in Java (Jakarta and Cilacap), two in Sumatra (Belawan and Bungus), one in North Sulawesi (Bitung) and the other in Southeast Sulawesi (Kendari). In addition there are 13 medium-sized fishing ports, while the remaining two fishing ports are small.

Fishing practices/systems

On motorized vessels fishermen use various fishing gears ranging from the traditional ones employed aboard sail boats to mechanized gears such as trawls, purse seines and longlines. The increased use of modern fishing gears is reflected by the growing number of fishing vessels, in particular the number of motorized vessel. Nonetheless, the number of non-motorized vessels is still high.

Other developments in Indonesian fisheries are the growing number of fish aggregating devices (FAD) used in pelagic fishing, and the increasing popularity of hand line fishing, purse seining and longline fishing for tuna.

Main resources

The catch of demersal and small-pelagic species as well as shrimps comes largely from fishing on the continental shelf, in the Malacca Strait, the southern part of South China Sea, the Java Sea and in the Arafura Sea. Most of the large pelagic species, amongst which tuna species (skipjack, bigeye and yellowfin tuna), are caught in the archipelagic waters in the mid and eastern part of the country as well as in the Indonesian EEZ and on the high seas. Indonesia is one of the main producers of tuna in the world.

Aquaculture sub-sector

In Indonesia aquaculture has a long history. The country has enjoyed rapid growth in various aquaculture sectors in recent years. In 2009 it was the fourth largest aquaculture producer in the world. Aquaculture in freshwater bodies has occurred for ages, especially in Java where the culture of carp (Cyprinus carpio), tilapia (Tilapia nilotica) and gouramy (Osphronemus goramy) is common. In brackish water, culture of milk fish (Chanos chanos) is popular on the north coast of Java, in particular in the north coast of east Java. Culture of Tiger shrimps (Penaeus monodon) was initiated at the end of the 1980s and that of white-legged shrimps (Litopenaeus vannamei) was initiated a decade later. Shrimp culture has expanded not only in Java, but also in Sumatra, Sulawesi and West Nusa Tenggara. With widespread international support the shrimp and milkfish industry have rapidly implemented Best Management Practices (BMPs).

Aquaculture activities in the marine environment started with culture of groupers in the early 1990s as the demand for this species grew. Currently Indonesia is the leading country in terms of grouper seed production using artificial propagation. This seed has not only ensured development of grouper culture in Indonesia but seeds have also supported grouper culture in countries of the region. In recent years the culture of seaweeds (mainly Eucheuma and Graciliaria) has also become popular, especially in the middle and eastern part of the country. Pearl culture takes place primarily in the vicinity of the islands in Nusa Tenggara, and plays an important role as a source of pearls for export.

With the increased pressure of fishing in the marine environment, capture fisheries landings are stagnating and a growing share of fish originates in aquaculture.

Recreational sub-sector

Recreational fishing is not common. However, in recent years a small number of hobbyists have been fishing for pelagic fish, using trolling and hand lines, in the vicinities of big cities (Jakarta, Surabaya and Bali).


Fisheries exports are important. They contribute to foreign exchange earnings. Exports reached all five continents (Table 8) with the main markets being: Japan, EU, USA, China, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan (Province of China), Vietnam and the Republic of Korea. Tuna, especially fresh tuna, is exported mostly to Japan and the USA where it is consumed as sashimi. A recent development is the growing exports to countries in the Middle East.

Constraints and opportunities

Development of fisheries in the western part of the country has occurred faster than in the eastern part. This is related to the fact that in the Eastern part there is a lack of infrastructure such as port facilities, electricity, transport facilities and fuel supply for vessels. Moreover, the western part is closer to markets, especially to Java. A shortage of markets may be the main constraint for the development of fisheries in the eastern part. When the Eastern part will be better provided for in terms of fisheries infrastructures, including those that facilitate market access, it is likely that fisheries production of the country will increase appreciably.

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