Working across ASEAN and Coral Triangle member countries, USAID Oceans has established two learning sites—General Santos City, Philippines and Bitung, Indonesia. These sites will support the development, implementation, and testing of the Catch Documentation and Traceability System (CDTS) and will serve as a hub for regional knowledge sharing for replication and expansion.

Indonesia is the world’s largest archipelagic State, with over 17,500 islands. As such, its fisheries span a vast area and result in a high yield fisheries sector. While a significant resource for the country, it is also challenging to enforce regulations, monitor, and secure the large area. Within this area is the North Sulawesi Province. Bitung is the main fishing port in the North Sulawesi Province and provides services to Indonesian fishing vessels operated in the Sulawesi and Maluku Seas, and Pacific Ocean. Based on its strategic location, high number of issued catch certificates, and biodiversity, Fisheries Management Area (WPP) 716 has been selected as a USAID Oceans learning site.

Did you know?

  • North Sulawesi Province accounts for 54% of total fisheries products landed in Indonesia.
  • Indonesia, in 2011, produced over 13.7 million tons of fisheries products, accounting for over 7% of the world’s production.


Bitung’s WPP 716 is comprised of coastal areas with mangroves, coral reefs, and deep waters. Bitung’s biodiversity has tremendous biodiversity, as evidenced by:

  • More than 86 species of fish are harvested from this fishing area, which is extremely diverse and includes rare species such as the coelacanth, an ancient and rare order fish.
  • Home to 10 at-risk species, including blue swimming crab, dolphin fish, groupers, red snappers, sea cucumber, shark, shrimps, swordfish, and tuna species.
  • Fisheries production from this fishing area amounted to 255 thousand tons in 2012, consisted of large pelagic fish species (48.5%), small pelagic fish species (33.1%), demersal fish species (9.8%), reef fish species (5.2%), crustaceans (2.4%), and other living aquatic species (1.0%).


Landing Data. Catch landed in the North Sulawesi Province, where Bitung resides, is comprised of approximately 81% tuna species. Of tuna landed, approximately 40% are skipjack, 21% yellowfin and bigeye, and 19% frigate/mackerel tuna.

Proportion of Fish Landed.

  • In addition to tuna, scad, squid, Spanish mackerel, and marlin are also landed, but in volumes much less significant than those of tuna species.
  • Bitung is home to multiple tuna canneries that purchase fish landed at Bitung (including from pole-and-line and handline operators) as well as import frozen product from the Philippines and Papua New Guinea (PNG).  Some canneries operate their own purse seine fleet, largely fishing in the western Pacific Ocean around PNG.
  • Primary tuna processing operations in Bitung focus on: (1) fresh or frozen tuna products, primarily for high-value international markets (Japan/Northern Asia, Europe, and the United States.); or (2) canned products for domestic and regional export markets. In 2015, most of Indonesia’s export products were either prepared/preserved (43%) or frozen (41%).

Export Data. In terms of volume, approximately 320,580 metric tons of fishery product were exported from the North Sulawesi Province in 2012, equal to US $163 million. Of this, tuna made of approximately 79% of export volume. Predominant countries of export for tuna landed at Bitung Port include Thailand, the Philippines, the United States, as well as countries in the European Union and ASEAN markets.

Supply Chain Overview

Vessel Types. Both small and large-scale fisheries operations are active in WPP716, with both fishing households and commercial operations landing catch at Bitung Port from small, medium, and large-scale vessels.

  • Small vessels make up approximately 95% of the fleet, and include non-power and outboard motor boats (80%) as well as small vessels weighing under five gross tons (4.8%). Small scale vessels are not required to have fishing licenses to operate.
  • Vessels between five and thirty gross tons are required to obtain a fishing license from the Provincial Fisheries Services, amounting to 4.8% of the current fleet.


Priority biodiversity threats. Illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing practices, combined with overfishing, pose serious threats to the region’s biodiversity. Among other impacts, IUU fishing increases uncertainty regarding catch and fishing efforts. This uncertainty and lack of data to assess current fish stocks results in difficulties in formulating and implementing fisheries management plans.

Priority challenges in the Bitung learning site include:

  • Threats to Biodiversity. Unregulated fishing, unregistered fishing boats, use of illegal gears and unsustainable fishing practices, a lack of data and research on current fish stocks, and challenges in monitoring and surveillance all negatively affect biodiversity.
  • Overfishing and Dwindling Fish Catch. IUU fishing practices in WPP716 have many harmful impacts, including overfishing and habitat destruction. Foreign fishing vessels that operate in the fishing zone increase the difficulty of regulation and enforcement, requiring action on a regional and international level. Collaborative, regional action to supplement national interventions, including increased trade regulations for fisheries products would support decreased prevalence of IUU activities.
  • Economic Development. Indonesia’s National Medium-Term Development Plan for 2015-2019 aims to increase economic competitiveness, particularly through increasing the country’s comparative advantage of natural resources. The Plan aims to increase the productivity and efficiency of fisheries, a goal that will require enhanced fisheries management to bolster the health and abundancy of the region’s fisheries resources. Fisheries management must be an integral part of enhancing the competitiveness of fisheries products to ensure a sustainable future for the country’s marine ecosystems and biodiversity. As such, Indonesia is taking steps to develop and implement eco-certification and catch documentation and traceability to optimize fisheries management.


As one of two USAID Oceans learning sites, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Southeast Asia Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC), and the Indonesia Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries, will work together to:

  • Develop, implement, and test an electronic Catch Documentation and Traceability System, incorporated within a broader Fisheries Information System (FIS), to trace fisheries products from point of catch through the complete supply chain.
  • Enhance fisheries management through an Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management. An in-depth analyses will be performed to support EAFM plan development that links with broader Sulu-Sulawesi Sea Regional Frameworks.
  • Address human welfare concerns to support policy development and intervention. Human welfare scoping will be conducted to better understand human welfare issues, including instances of gender inequality and labor rights abuses in the fisheries sector.
  • Develop strategic partnerships that support CDT system implementation. Engagement with the private sector will secure their strong support, thus ensuring a mutually beneficial and financially sustainable CDT system.


The Indonesia USAID Ocean National Technical Working Group (TWG) supports USAID Ocean’s activities at the national and learning site level, including planning, implementation, and capacity building.

The Indonesia TWG is led by Mr. Nilanto Perbowo, Directorate-General for Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries,