U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke underscored shared U.S.-Indonesia economic and environmental commitments at an event today at Muara Baru, a commercial fishing port in North Jakarta. Locke addressed joint efforts to prevent illegal and unregulated fishing and witnessed the signing of the first-ever U.S.-Indonesia ocean exploration agreement. He was joined by Indonesia’s Coordinating Minister for People's Welfare Agung Laksono, Research and Technology Minister Suharna Surapranata, Secretary for People's Welfare Indroyono Soesilo, and Dr. Gellwynn Jusuf, Director General for Research, Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries.
“The extraordinary natural resources in Southeast Asian waters sustain the lives of hundreds of millions of people living in this region and benefit many millions more worldwide,” Locke said. “The health of the environment and health of the economy go hand-in-hand, and the United States is committed to actively partnering with the Republic of Indonesia on issues of vast importance to our two nations, Southeast Asia, and the planet itself. These include managing sustainable fisheries, conserving the marine environment and fragile coral reefs, and better understanding our still mysterious ocean.”
While at Muara Baru, Locke witnessed the signing of the “Indonesia-U.S. Ocean Exploration Partnership,” which will help Indonesian scientists, marine resource managers and the public gain a new understanding of the oceans and seas vital to all Indonesians. The exploration partnership focuses on ocean exploration in Indonesian waters and the Indonesian Exclusive Economic Zone. The partners entered the agreement to better understand the marine environment, indentify new research questions that will lead to improved ocean management and conservation, and make the public aware of Indonesia’s unique and vital ocean resources.
Locke called the pact an “important step in a broader U.S.-Indonesia collaboration on science and technology and an important demonstration of the approach urged by President Obama in his June 2009 speech at Cairo University.” He also applauded Indonesia’s leadership on ocean issues, noting that the Ocean Exploration Partnership is a direct result of last year’s World Ocean Conference in Manado.
Because illegal fishing occurs worldwide, the U.S. and Indonesia also work together to strengthen surveillance and enforcement, including efforts to protect endangered species such as sea turtles, sharks and some tuna. Through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the U.S. works closely with Indonesia on issues critical to food security, including protecting the waters and ecosystems on which fisheries and many millions of people and communities depend. In cooperation with the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries and port officials, a thorough assessment of illegal fisheries activities in Indonesian ports is taking place this year.
The U.S. and Indonesia are both important contributors to the Coral Triangle Initiative, a partnership of six Southeast Asian countries whose waters cover a triangular-shaped area where the Indian and Pacific Oceans meet. This area is home to some 363 million people and about one-third of them depend directly on coastal and marine resources for their livelihoods. In 2007, as the decline of coral reefs was affecting human well-being, the Coral Triangle Initiative was formed to ensure long-term food security and safeguard the area's rich biological resources. NOAA partners with the U.S. Agency for International Development to build management capacity across Indonesia's 35 marine-protected areas and provide technical assistance in planning for climate change. Protecting the marine environment and the sizable portion of global marine diversity in Southeast Asian waters is likely to be a major factor as ocean ecosystems adapt to climate change.