Three red fish are measured on a board.
Pale snapper (Etelis radiosus) is measured on the color-coded board prior to processing at the CV Indotropic Fishery. The fish length will provide information about consumer buying behavior. © TNC Indonesia

Stories in Indonesia

Indonesia’s Fisheries – Feeding the World

As the world’s second largest producer of seafood, Indonesia is transforming its fishery for long-term sustainability.

Indonesia’s fisheries are of global importance. The country’s waters support over 3,000 species of bony fishes and more than 850 sharks, rays, and chimaeras. The fisheries industry employs about 12 million Indonesians.

Unfortunately, the majority of Indonesia’s fisheries are over-exploited or fully-exploited, and illegal fishing practices are common.

The Nature Conservancy (TNC) is transforming fishery practices in Indonesia by monitoring fish stocks, tracking fishing vessels, developing species identification technology, promoting rights-based management in small near-shore fisheries and more.

Swirling bluetail unicornfishes (Naso caeruleacauda) at Komodo National Park in Indonesia.
Indonesia Swirling bluetail unicornfishes (Naso caeruleacauda) at Komodo National Park in Indonesia. © Jeff Yonover
A man holds a large red fish in a busy market.
Malabar snapper A fish supplier offer his product (Lutjanus malabaricus) at the fish auction market in Lamongan District, East Java. © Laksmi Larastiti/TNC Indonesia

Indonesia harvests more deep water snapper (Lutjanidae) and grouper (subfamily Epinepheliane) than any other nation. These fisheries are vital for national food security, but unsustainable fishing practices are driving large-scale decline in the snapper-grouper population. The average size snapper and grouper is steadily decreasing, which is jeopardizing the future of the fishery. Today, 60 percent exported fish juveniles, meaning they have not had the chance to reproduce. These small fish are prized in some markets for their whole fillets that fit attractively on a dinner plate. Without the cap and reduction in juvenile catch, Indonesia’s snapper-grouper fishery is in deep trouble.

For nearly a decade, Yayasan Konservasi Alam Nusantara (YKAN), TNC’s main Indonesian partner, has worked to recover Indonesia’s snapper-grouper fishery. YKAN works with fishers, communities, companies and government agencies to achieve long-term sustainability in Indonesia’s diverse fisheries.

The government of Indonesia, along with the private sector and fishing communities, acknowledges the time has come to fish smarter, not harder, to ensure fisheries generate equitable benefits for the people of Indonesia. YKAN supports this ambition with practical, science-based solutions for fisheries management. developed in partnership with all stakeholders. The most important assets of YKAN's fisheries program are its partnerships with fishing companies and fishers, and its team of technicians that span the Indonesian archipelago.

Four men look at a book of fish species.
Fishers learning the program In order to cover stock assessment throughout Indonesia, TNC is introducing the program to fisherman, suppliers and the community, prior deploying CODRS. © TNC Indonesia
Three men sit on the ground and look at a book about fish.
Fishers study the guide Fishers in various locations in Indonesia have different names for snapper-grouper species, so TNC created a guide that shows the fish morphology, species and local names. © TNC Indonesia


Crew-Operated Data Recording System (CODRS)

A key challenge in addressing overfishing is the lack of data: We simply don’t know which species are being caught where and in what quantities. Especially in complex multi-species fisheries, like the ones in Indonesia and in many other tropical developing countries, useful fish data just doesn’t exist, making sustainable management almost impossible.

In fact, some 90 percent of fisheries globally are lacking in stock assessment data. Traditional methods of obtaining this data are prohibitively expensive, and so in the majority of fisheries in the developing world, the condition of stocks is unknown.

A man holds a colored board while on a boat.
Captain Solikhin who participates in TNC's FishFace program, poses with the special board used to measure the length of fish in Paciran, Lamongan, East Java, Indonesia. © Ed Wray

YKAN is using Crew Operated Data Recording Systems (CODRS) to capture the much needed data. CODRS is a fish database program operated by fishers at sea. Fish are placed on measuring boards and then photographed to determine their size and species. The fishing vessel is tracked using GPS coordinates to show where the fish are harvested.

For smaller boats, the crew photographs the fish upon landing instead of at sea, and the timestamps on the pictures are used as an indication of the fishing day.

At the end of the trip, the photographs are handed over for processing by expert staff. The processing involves identifying the fish species and the length of the fish. This information is double checked by a second expert, and the data is stored in a data base.

Fishers unload their haul The fishers sort the fish into size and species to prepare them for processing.


To compliment the CODRS work, TNC and YKAN are developing a groundbreaking image-recognition application called FishFace that allows fishers to identify and track their catches using mobile technology, eliminating common misidentifications and the need for expensive equipment. FishFace has been tested at sea with an accuracy rate of 95 percent.

A machine labeled REFIND sits aboard a small fishing boat.
FishFace The FishFace device was deployed on the fishing vessel KM. Damena Perjuangan. FishFace uses facial recognition technology to identify species of caught fish. © TNC Indonesia

The goal of FishFace is to build this technology into a smart phone app that could be used on fishing boats throughout the region and eventually be deployed around the globe. Through the use of affordable image recognition software that will detect species from photos, much faster and more accurate sorting of fish will be possible at the processing plant, or even as fish are brought on board boats at sea.

Ultimately, FishFace technology will offer a low-cost assessment of fish stocks, providing the essential data needed to assess and manage fisheries that are struggling around the world and making a positive difference to hundreds of millions of people who depend on fish for income and food.

Fisheries Improvement Program

Our Fisheries Improvement Program (FIP) blends two primary strategies: adaptive fisheries governance and market leadership that are the key elements of sustainable fisheries in Europe and the United States. FIPs help guide fisheries to develop long-term plans for monitoring catch and creating a credible compliance system needed to position the fishery for formal sustainability recognition, such as the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification, which many seafood buyers with sustainable sourcing frameworks require.

YKAN has launched a FIP for Indonesia deepwater groundfish that are caught using dropline, longline, trap and gillnet. Fourteen buyers and processing companies have committed to join the FIP and have committed to limit their amount of juvenile fish to no more than 5 percent.

A large group of people pose for their photo.
FIP launch The launch was attended by FIP members and the Director of Directorate General of Capture Fisheries, Zulfikar Mochtar. © TNC Indonesia

The FIP has been entered in, and we are maintaining the status at A (Advanced Progress) through these achievements:

  • Forecasted the total production of the snapper fishery per year (85,230 metric tons) using fleet surveys and CODRS data collected from 2015-2018 on primary and non-primary species in the fishery.
  • Conducted an assessment of endangered, threatened and protected species (particularly, sharks) caught in the snapper fishery based on CODRS data from 2016-2018. Fishers reported sharks caught during snapper fishing and the data was uploaded to
  • Built a strong cooperation with the Research Institute for Marine Fisheries-(Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries) (BRPL-KKP) on database development.
  • Conducted a MSC certification pre-assessment for the deepwater snapper-grouper fishery.
  • Supported the BRPL-KKP to strengthen the current fisheries management decision making procedure and ensure that it responds to fishery-specific requirements.
Categorizing fish in the processing factory The fish are sorted, identified, scanned and labelled to track their origins.


Fisheries Program Sites:

Aceh, Aceh Special Region
Padang, West Sumatera
Bintan, Riau Island
Natuna, Riau Island
Pangkalan Susu, North Sumatera
Bengkulu, Bengkulu
Belitung, Bangka-Belitung Islan
Balikpapan, East Kalimantan
Bontang, East Kalimantan
Sumenep, East Java
Lamongan, East Java
Probolinggo, East Java
Karimun Jawa, Central Java
Pangandaran, West Java
Denpasar, Bali
Kema, North Sulawesi
Sangihe, North Sulawesi
Talaud, North Sulawesi
Tagulandang, North Sulawesi
Makassar, South Sulawesi
Wakatobi, Sulawesi Tenggara
Kolaka, Sulawesi Tenggara
Pagimana, Sulawesi Tengah
Kupang, NTT
Sumbawa, NTB
Sape, NTB
Tual, Maluku
Saumlaki, Maluku
Dobo, Maluku
Ambon, Maluku
Buli, Maluku Utara
Manokwari, Papua Barat
Sorong, Papua Barat
Fakfak, Papua Barat
Nabire, Papua
Biak, Papua
Our Fisheries Work in Indonesia



Thus far, 14 domestic and international fishing companies have demonstrated their commitment to the snapper-grouper Fisheries Improvement Program (FIP) by adopting a minimum trading size for purchased fish.

A group of company logos.
Indonesia's FIP Partners

PT. Kelola Laut Nusantara (KLN)

A fish processing company in Pati, Central Java. Selling fresh seafood that is packaged in frozen form for domestic and export needs, with the best quality seafood.


Fisheries Export is an innovator in the fishing industry. Setting high bars for sustainability and traceability, we provide the highest-quality fish.


Anova Food, LLC, is a leading sushi quality tuna company in America. Due to its focus on quality and sustainability, Anova is the preferred brand for many restaurant chains, food retailers, distributors and value-added processors.


Beaver Street Fisheries offers a full line of premium and value frozen fish fillets, value-added, breaded seafood, shellfish and specialty items.


Established in Singapore in 2005, we have offices in Jakarta and Vietnam. We actively export to Japan, UK and USA where our name is synonymous with stability, quality, honesty and ethical behaviour.


A frozen seafood processor and exporter. They provide many kinds of frozen seafood, e.g., red snapper, grouper, baramundi, etc.



One of the leading seafood processing companies in makassar Indonesia. With our strategic location and sourcing area of fresh seafood, we dare to bring the best quality and freshness seafood to the world.


A leading seafood supplier from Indonesia. We have our own vessel, cold storage and processing plant.


Striving to offer our customers with the highest quality seafood products from sustainable and ethical fisheries while operating our business with integrity and care.


Specialized in bringing fresh seafood from around the world to the Australian consumer quicker than anyone else.


A seafood processing and trading company with the target of developing long-term relationships and mutual partnerships in the global seafood market.


Established in 2017 to provide high quality seafood for a wide arrange of local businesses. All our seafood products are wild caught and harvested using sustainable fishing methods.


Highest quality seafood in the market since 1993




The program helps me financially. There is additional money to share with the crew, especially when the catch is limited. So far, taking photos of the fish has not been disturbing.


PT. Hatfield Indonesia

PNCI (Pet and Nature Consulting International)

CRRF (Coral Reef Research Foudation)

 PT. ION Teknologi Indonesia




USAID supports Indonesia’s vision for productive and sustainable oceans. In cooperation with TNC, USAID secured commitments to fisheries improvement programs from companies in Indonesia. The activity focuses on protecting marine ecosystems and encouraging sustainable practices by private sector actors to enhance the sustainability and profitability of deepwater red snapper fisheries.


Walton Foundation

The foundation believes fishing can be the sustainability success story of the 21st century. To end overfishing, improve ocean health and preserve coastal livelihoods, the Walton Family Foundation is leveraging the buying power of major seafood importers and engaging the supply chain in building support for sustainable fisheries practices.


Packard Foundation

For half a century, the Packard Foundation has made investments to expand our understanding of the ocean and has worked with partners to improve its long-term health. They continue to invest in countries and global strategies that help improve our ocean’s sustainability.