GGGI PROJECT: Gear Marking in Indonesian Small Scale Fisheries

World Animal Protection

World Animal Protection

project background

During the United Nations Committee on Fisheries (COFI) 32, the Committee instructed the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations to conduct a number of pilot projects to explore the feasibility of fishing gear marking, particularly in developing countries, and ghost gear retrieval. Indonesia was proposed as a country for a pilot project given the abundance of abandoned, lost and otherwise discarded fishing gear (ALDFG) and increasing threat of Illegal Unregulated and Unreported (IUU) fishing in Indonesian territorial waters coupled with a strong commitment by the Indonesian government to take steps towards addressing both issues.

Gillnets were proposed as a primary focus of the project due to both their prevalence and impact as ALDFG. Two pilot sites were selected in Java, Indonesia, to test gear marking methods outlined in FAO’s Draft Guidelines. In Pekalongan, low rates of gear loss were reported due to favourable weather conditions and a sandy, muddy substrate which reduces the possibility of snagging. In the second pilot site in Sadeng where the fishers operate in deeper waters in the Indian Ocean in less favourable weather conditions, higher rates of gear loss were reported, with one study estimating 35,000 pieces of gillnet being lost in the spiny lobster fishery each year.

The project was led by the Indonesian Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries together with World Animal Protection, and supported by FAO and the Dutch Government. The work was undertaken in the country by a team led by Dr Fayakun Satria from the Indonesian Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries.


project objectives

  • To assess the practical and economic feasibility of various gillnet gear marking options for small-scale and artisanal fisheries in Indonesia and comparable locations and fisheries;

  • To prove that gear marking could form part of a comprehensive fisheries management system to help reduce ALDFG and IUU in a developing country;

  • To underpin and strengthen the provisional recommendations of the draft FAO Guidelines on the Marking of Fishing Gear;

  • To scope viability of a net recovery and / or recycling project

project methodology

The project team tested the marking of gillnets using low-cost tags made of readily available materials. Six different types of marker were tested in the trials: plastic, wood, coconut, bamboo, metal and a tag utilizing Septillion FibreCode technology, similar to a barcode that provides user-level identification upon scanning with a mobile phone device.

The tags were tested according to the following criteria:

  • Pollution risk

  • Safety for fishermen when operating marked gear

  • Cost

  • Ease of installation

  • Lifespan / durability

  • Ease of monitoring

  • Material availability

Project Outcomes

The small-scale fishers that participated in the pilot were eager to be involved and supportive of the gear marking activities. However, a need exists to build greater understanding of the benefits of gear marking and further work should be done on related issues, particularly the ability to retrieve the gear when lost and the need for environmentally-friendly tags.

Due to the low value of gillnets and a government subsidy programme providing nets to fishers there is limited incentive to retrieve lost nets in either project site, although repair and reuse of damaged nets is commonly reported. In the two pilot sites, and in similar small-scale fisheries in Indonesia, fishermen are already using flashlights and flags for visibility of fishing gear to enable location by the fishers themselves and to avoid conflict with other fishing vessels, but it was agreed more could be done to aid identification.

Given the project’s success, it is hoped that a third phase will be forthcoming and that lessons learned can be applied to other small scale fisheries in developing countries. For a more detailed case study of this project, click on the image below.

GGGI Projectpb+j