Fisheries Minister Susi named ‘Seafood Champion’ for fight against unsustainable fishing and slave labor

Painting by Heri Budiono and Romo Sindunata, 2014
Painting by Heri Budiono and Romo Sindunata, 2014

Susi Pudjiastuti, Indonesia’s Minister of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, is arguably the country’s most popular (and coolest) minister, mostly thanks to her much-publicized campaign of sinking of illegal fishing vessels caught poaching in Indonesian waters.

But Bu Susi, as she if often referred to, has done much more for Indonesian and its environment than sink ships. She has also introduced a number of regulations to help support sustainable fishing practices and has helped fight the scourge of slave labor being used on fishing vessels in Indonesia.

For her work, Susi recently won “The Seafood Champion Award for Leadership” at the SeaWeb Seafood Summit’s annual Seafood Champion Awards, which recognize individuals and organizations for excellence in promoting ocean health and responsible practices.

As explained in a statement announcing the awards from the SeaWeb website, Susi “has has banned the use of bottom trawlers and other unsustainable catching devices; led the fight against illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing in her geographically dispersed island nation; and fought against the use of forced labor on fishing vessels.”

This year’s SeaWeb Seafood Summit, a conference focusing on seafood sustainability (a very important topic to the future of humanity), was held this in Seattle, Washington, last weekend. Susi could not make it to the awards so hers was accepted by Rifky Effendi Hardijanto, Secretary General of the Ministry for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries.

While Susi’s ship sinking exploits have been somewhat controversial, environmentalists seem united in praising her track record on improving the sustainability of fishing practices in Indonesia’s vast waters and promoting marine health.

After investigative reports from 2015 revealed shocking evidence of seafood companies employing slave labor on their vessels, many of the operating in the most remote waters of Indonesia, Susi and her ministry acted quickly to implement new regulations such as a decree requiring all fisheries companies to submit detailed human rights audits.

Tapped by President Joko Widodo as one part of his original cabinet (and one of the very few who hasn’t been shuffled out), Susi is a political outsider and a self-made businesswoman, having started in the fishing industry and then creating her own successful airline, Susi Air, from the ground up. Despite a few conservatives disapproving of her maverick image (much has been made about her smoking and tattoos), she has one of the highest approval ratings of any Indonesian government official and was declared the coolest minister in ASEAN (by us) after she posted these pictures of herself on her paddleboard in March.

She’s also frequently been the subject of fan art, from this amazing painting by Heri Budiono and Romo Sindunata…

… to, more recently, being inserted into an issue of legendary manga Golgo 13.


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