The problem of ocean pollution is global and each coastal country approaches it a little differently. The government in Indonesia has decided to promote ocean cleanup by paying fishermen to clean the sea of ​​plastic. In addition to catching fish, fishermen earn extra money by collecting plastic. This approach will help clean up the seas from litter and at the same time raise awareness of the problem.

The goal is to effectively clean the shores of Indonesia from plastic

Fishermen have the opportunity to cooperate with the government and take advantage of the financial bonuses that this cooperation entails. The Ministry of Fisheries announced on October 4th that they had stashed around $70,000, or 1 billion rupiah, with which to pay fishermen for any plastic trash they recovered from the oceans. An extreme amount of plastic is produced every day in Indonesia, which often ends up in the oceans.

Plastic trash on Kuta Beach, one of the main tourist destinations on the Indonesian island of Bali. Image by Luh De Suriyani/Mongabay Indonesia.

These plastics then pile up off the coast of Indonesia. It is not only an aesthetic problem, but it also threatens health, a life problem and leads to a decrease in interest from tourists. The country wants to shed its reputation as a major polluter and would like to reduce the amount of plastic entering the ocean by 70% within 3 years. To achieve this, the government wants to spend $1 billion on this effort over the next 3 years.

How much money do fishermen get?

If a fisherman can collect 4 kilograms of plastic waste per day, the government will pay him around 10 dollars. It’s a lot of money in Indonesia, in comparison it’s more than a fisherman would earn in a whole day of fishing.

“This activity is very simple,” Sakti Wahyu Trenggono, the fisheries minister, said at a press conference in Jakarta. “But at least this will raise awareness among the stakeholders at sea and the people around the world.”

“The most important thing is prevention,” Sakti said. “If we can properly conduct prevention, then there shouldn’t be any waste in the sea. Because once the trash gets to the sea, then it’s already damaged.”

Plastic pollution is rampant in Indonesian ports. Image by Anton Wisuda/Mongabay Indonesia.

An ideal concept for Indonesia

Indonesia is developing very fast and although this country produces a lot of plastic waste, only a small amount of this waste is recycled. While in some countries fishing is mainly done by large companies, in Indonesia fishing activities are 95% small-scale (according to the British Pew Trust). Small-scale fishing can be very beneficial for collecting plastic, because a large number of people will be involved in cleaning the ocean. There is a very biologically diverse sea around Indonesia, which is sought after by divers from all over the world. If Indonesia succeeds in reducing plastic pollution, tourism will increase.


Image credit: Anton Wisuda/Mongabay Indonesia, Luh De Suriyani/Mongabay Indonesia.