Managing maritime resources in the border area is a very challenging task. It’s not easy to determine national boundaries on the land, moreover at sea. At sea, there are a number of unsettled maritime boundaries between Indonesia and its neighbors, particularly in the territorial sea, EEZ, and continental shelf. Unless these boundaries are settled by agreements between the states concerned, difficulties and violence are bound to happen. Another maritime country such as Japan, also share the same issues. This issue was discussed at the “National Seminar on Maritime Border Resource Management”, held on February 16th 2017, in JS Luwansa Hotel and Convention Center Jakarta by Center for Political Studies, Indonesian Institute of Sciences (P2P-LIPI).
This seminar presented Prof. Shin Kawashima, majored in Chinese Studies at the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, Dr. Ir. Andang Bachtiar, M.Sc., National Energy Council of the Republic of Indonesia, Prof. Ir. Raden Sjarief Widjaja, Ph.D, General Secretary of the Ministry for Marine Affairs and Fisheries of the Republic of Indonesia, and Dra. Awani Irewati, MA, Senior Researcher at the Center for Political Studies, Indonesian Institute of Sciences.
Talking about the resources management in Natuna Islands, Mrs. Awani Irewati pointed out that Natuna Islands which is located on the southern tip of the South China Sea has abundant maritime resources. But unfortunately, this condition is inversely proportional with the welfare of the people in Natuna Islands. She also added that the fishermen can’t go fishing all the time in a year, they usually only have 6 months to go fishing and look for another job when the north wind season comes. She also explained the importance of the triangular relationship (government - private sector - fishermen actors) for enhancing the fishermen’s economic life, since the social aspects and impacts of natural resources management in Natuna Islands shouldn’t only be government’s concern and responsibility but also the community and public sectors as well.
Addressing another issue of maritime resources on oil and natural gas, Mr. Andang Bachtiar explained the degradation of Indonesian oil and gas reserves due to the exploration activities to find new reserves. He also added that actually Indonesia is a rich country with abundant energy resources. Despite the least of oil and natural gas reserves comparing with other countries, Indonesia still have numerous potential energy reserves to be explored. It depends on Indonesia itself, whether to keep extracting the remaining energy that we have and facing an energy crisis later in the future or challenging ourselves to find a new energy reserves to maintain our energy security.
The other concern about the management of maritime resources is how to make maritime resources contribute to the welfare of the people, in accordance to our constitutional mandate that earth, water, and the natural resources contained are used for the prosperity of the people. Prof. Ir. Raden Sjarief Widjaja explained the programs of Ministry for Marine Affairs and Fisheries (KKP) to manage the coastal areas and small islands. KKP gives the facility and knowledge for traditional fishermen. Moreover, Mr. Widjaja also explained about the phenomenal breakthrough initiated by KKP to sink the foreign ships to eradicate illegal fishing activities.
Just like Indonesia, Japan also has several dispute with its neighbors regarding the border area. Prof. Shin Kawashima explained about the crucial problem in the East China Sea. China’s aggressiveness make the task on protecting Senkaku become a heavy burden for Japan. The dispute isn’t ignored as it be, Japan and China actually have had a series of meetings on making urgent communication mechanism, however the meetings are apparently not yield any good result.
At the end of the discussion, it has concluded that having the abundant of natural resources is not enough, we have to think the way to manage the resources so that it can contribute to the welfare of the people as a whole. States also have to make agreement with their neighbors to settle the border dispute. Finally, we come to understand that the border area as the porch of a state is an important part to be developed.
Ida Nur Hanifah Hilmi*
Fellow student at the Center for Political Studies, Indonesian Institute of Sciences, from Universitas Bakrie, Jakarta.