President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said he hoped that the 2010 Sail Banda festival would create momentum for Indonesia to improve its maritime resource management.
Show of force: Several warships sail in formation during the main event of the Sail Banda 2010 maritime festival at Yos Sudarso Port in Ambon, Maluku, on Tuesday. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono attended the parade on Tuesday. JP/Nurhayati
“I’ve requested the maritime affairs and fisheries minister boost productivity in the marine and fishery sectors to ensure that we emerge as one of the world’s leading fish producers in the near future,” Yudhoyono said Tuesday in a speech to mark the festival’s peak at the Yos Sudarso port in Ambon.
Yudhoyono said the event should encourage the younger generation to be devoted to the sea and optimize the exploitation of the sea’s wealth for the nation’s benefit, as well as empower coastal communities in remote and outer islands.
“Make sure that the fishing industry is followed by the increase in the number of fishing fleets and empowerment of Indonesian fishing crews. Make sure that the fishery and maritime sector can absorb manpower and boost economic growth,” he said.
Yudhoyono also gave his support for Maluku to become the national fish center given the island province’s overflowing maritime resources.
“I am in favor of the initiative of the people of Maluku and the government to make Maluku a national fish center,” he said.
Yudhoyono said the government would immediately instruct relevant agencies to assist the development of the province’s maritime and fishery sectors.
“The government is committed to improving the infrastructure of the maritime and fishery sectors. We will continue to build more fishing ports and fish processing facilities,” he said.
Maluku is situated in the “golden fishing grounds” of the Arafura, Seram and Banda seas, where the combined fisheries resources amounts to 1.64 million tons annually.
“We must take advantage of this huge potential for the sake of public welfare,” he said.
The territorial waters of Maluku — which span more than 600,000 square kilometers and contain more than 1,400 small islands — is prone to poaching by foreign vessels.
Yudhoyono said that maritime security had to be heightened to curb fish theft.
One festival highlight was Operation Bakti Surya Baskara Jaya, which provided free medical care to more than 37,000 patients across the islands.
Medical aid was given on shore and on board several naval vessels, such as the KRI Dr. Soeharso from Indonesia, the USNS Mercy from the US, the RSS Endeavour from Singapore and the HMAS Labuan and HMAS Tarakan from Australia.
More than 500 youths from several provinces traveled to Maluku aboard the KM Makassar to take part in the festival. Other highlights will include the National Cultural Festival, which will include 750 participants from across the country; a national sailing race; competitions in diving and underwater photography; a fisheries exhibition; local cultural performances; a mangrove planting and a feast featuring 2010 different fish dishes.