To support the acceleration of sustainable seaweed development in East Nusa Tenggara (NTT), the Marine Affairs and Fisheries Office of East Nusa Tenggara Province and Yayasan Konservasi Alam Nusantara (YKAN), an affiliate of The Nature Conservancy (TNC), held the “Percepatan Pengembangan Rumput Laut Berkelanjutan di Provinsi Nusa Tenggara Timur” (“The Acceleration of Sustainable Seaweed Development in East Nusa Tenggara Province”) workshop. This event was held in Kupang on September 30, 2019, attended by related stakeholders in the seaweed development in East Nusa Tenggara Province.
Seaweed has developed into one of the strategic commodities that significantly contribute to increasing the coastal communities’ economy. The centers of seaweed production in East Nusa Tenggara are located in Kupang Regency, Rote Ndao Regency, Sabu Raijua Regency, and East Sumba Regency, which half of its marine areas are conservation areas.
The marine ecosystem’s health heavily influences the quality of seaweed. One of the challenges in developing seaweed in East Nusa Tenggara is the ecological factor. Many areas intended for seaweed farming overlap with the natural habitat from seagrass and coral reefs. Seagrass is one of the vital habitats in the coastal area for fisheries sustainability, in addition to mangrove and coral reefs. Decreasing seagrass coverage in a waterbody can negatively impact the quality of the water and the marine biota that live in surrounding areas.
“It is very important to develop seaweed sustainably. In other words, the seaweed production and farming process need to pay attention to the ecological aspect to ensure the production continuity,” explained Muhammad Ilman, YKAN | TNC Ocean Program Director.
Based on the Marine and Coastal Resources Statistic of Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries data in 2018, East Nusa Tenggara was the biggest seaweed producer nationally in 2013, and at present, the second-biggest producer with a total production of 1,941,707 tons in 2017. The East Nusa Tenggara Provincial Government’s policy related to the development of seaweed as a flagship commodity on a big scale is realistic since it is aligned with the record that East Nusa Tenggara has achieved in seaweed production and its potential, as the areas in this province are appropriate to be transformed as new seaweed development areas.
Aside from increasing production, competitive and additional values are also some aspects that need attention from all stakeholders in developing seaweed. To date, Indonesian seaweed products are still dominated by raw products. Only 3-5% of Indonesian seaweed products are already processed. Raw Indonesian seaweed products are also valued as not having high quality because the production process, including the nursery and post-harvest management, have not met the standards.
“Laut merupakan masa depan kita. Momen ini sangat berharga karena menandakan sebuah langkah maju dalam pembangunan bidang kelautan dan perikanan di Provinsi NTT. Target produksi rumput laut yang dicanangkan oleh Pemerintah Provinsi NTT pada 2019 adalah 2,4 juta ton, seperti tertuang dalam Rencana Pembangunan Jangka Menengah Daerah (RPJMD) 2018-2023,” terang Kepala Dinas Kelautan dan Perikanan Provinsi NTT, Ganef Wurgiyanto.
“Ocean is our future. This moment is priceless because it indicates one step forward in marine and fisheries development in East Nusa Tenggara. The seaweed production target that the East Nusa Tenggara Provincial Government set in 2019 was 2.4 million tons, as stated in the Medium-Term Regional Development Plan (Rencana Pembangunan Jangka Menengah Daerah or RPJMD) 2018-2023,” explained Ganef Wurgiyanto, Head of Marine Affairs and Fisheries Office of East Nusa Tenggara Province.
Yayasan Konservasi Alam Nusantara (YKAN) is a scientific-based non-profit organization that has been present in Indonesia since 2014. With the mission of protecting lands and waters as life support systems, we provide innovative solutions to realize the harmony of nature and humans through effective natural resource management, prioritizing a non-confrontational approach, and building a network of partnerships with all stakeholders for a sustainable Indonesia. For more information, visit ykan.or.id.