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Bali is known for its rich culture, delicious food and amazing beaches. Marine life in the province is a great source of food and livelihood for its local residents. The demand of distributors and lack of education forced local fishermen to catch fish using dynamite fishing. However, UD Pulau Mas saw the effects of dynamite fishing to the supply and quality of fish that they are receiving from fishermen. In order to address these concerns, and at the same time protect the livelihood of local fishermen and protect the business, the company committed to Sustainable Fishing. UD Pulau Mas only accepts supplies from fishermen that adhere to sustainable form of fishing such as using handline fishing gear. Moreover, the company only accepts fish that are above 600 grams to protect the small fishes and give them time to flourish in their natural habitat. With this commitment to sustainable fishing, UD Pulau Mas is now exporting groupers and lobsters from 53 fishing sites within 10 regions in Indonesia and exports them to China and Hong Kong.
We always thought Innovation are the new ways of doing things, that it should be in correlation with the development of technology in order to improve efficiency and grow quickly. However, in the case of UD Pulau Mas, the innovation is not following the new practices that generates faster and more results such as dynamite fishing. The innovation of Pulau Mas is going back to their roots and practice the traditional form of fishing. It is definitely not new and does not involve a technical innovation. The innovation is in the goal of the company to change the mindset of fishermen regarding illegal forms of fishing. In this era where it is important to catch fish at a huge quantity in the quickest way possible is the most attractive to fishermen because of the small earnings that they receive from fishing. The traditional method of fishing using the handline fishing gear is the "innovation" practiced by UD Pulau Mas.
"We used to be like other companies that focused on the quantity of fish that we received in order to sell more. We didn't think about sustainability at all". As Heru Purnomo mentioned that they were not aware that their actions will have an impact to the environment and the business. The inspiration came when they realized that their operation in West Sulawesi was only getting small fish. "We saw the change in the quality of fishes that we are receiving from fishermen. We know that small fish will not be able to pass our export standards. At first, we thought that this phase will soon change and go back to normal. However, as time went by, it did not show any improvement. There were no more big fishes to catch." He mentioned that the company started to fear that if this continues they might eventually run out of business in the future. Heru Purnomo knew that he had to do something in order to survive.
"The results of our efforts were not seen immediately. Our revenues dropped up to 40% for three years when we implemented the program. It was difficult for us, we wanted to give up because we were afraid to go out of business. However, I was determined to continue our efforts because after the first year we saw the improvement on the quality of the fishes that we were receiving from the fishermen. Aside from the improving quality of the fishes that we were receiving, on the third year our revenues increased by 30%." As stated by the enthusiastic Heru Purnomo. As a businessman, the overall impact for him was that he was able to grow a company that supports sustainable fishing. This is rare and special as more businesses prefer faster results with larger quantities. Heru Purnomo saw the improving quantity and quality of the fishes that they are receiving from the fishermen and that enable them to meet export qualities. Good quality seafood products command a higher price therefore they are able to gain profits from these efforts.
Heru Purnomo admitted that implementing this program was difficult as they had to approach each of the fishermen and educate them on the effects of illegal fishing and what are the benefits of switching to traditional reel fishing. Convincing them was hard enough as dynamite fishing gives them more fish quickly. They want to earn as much as they can for their families. The only way that UD Pulau Mas persuaded the fishermen to turn into traditional way of fishing is to educate them that they will be earning more money for quality fresh fish. Heru Purnomo talks to the fishermen that buyers pay more if they meet the export standards. Moreover, UD Pulau Mas only accepts fishes weighing more than 600gr which are bought at a higher price. Profits were realized after three years of sustainable fishing. The company was able to secure supply of fishes without fear of scarcity because it is the fishermen who looks after the sea and knows the effects of illegal fishing. Because of this, the company is now one of the leading exporters of grouper and lobster to China and Hong Kong which demands a lot of these products.
"Our fishermen partners gained a lot of benefits from this program. They saw themselves the difference in the quality of illegal fishing versus traditional reel fishing. They are secured that they will get their supply tomorrow, next week and the following month. They know that they will be able to get big quality fishes and because of this they are able to charge more because of the quality of their catch. In addition, these fishermen are teaching their kids about traditional fishing and passing to them the knowledge that we taught them." Heru Purnomo mentioned that he was proud and happy on the improving situation of fishermen. It is through this livelihood that they are able to provide for their family.
The company started with accepting fishes using illegal fishing. In this form of fishing they are getting everything including the small fishes. And then they saw the depleting supply of fish until fishermen could not catch anything in their area. UD Pulau Mas realized that there were no more fishes because the coral reefs were destroyed by dynamite fishing. Suddenly, the ocean that gives the company their revenues are destroyed by their own practices. The company then committed to sustainable form of fishing using traditional fishing reels. After a year, they are able to see that there were more fishes that are bigger and better in quality. UD Pulau Mas is now protecting the marine life that is their source of business.
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Heru Purnomo, Owner