Storms Ground Indonesia’s Fishing

Jakarta. Almost half a million fisherman from 20 Indonesian provinces have been unable to go out to sea because of the bad weather affecting the country, a government minister said on Thursday.

To help the nearly 474,000 fishermen whose livelihoods had been affected by the situation, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Fadel Muhammad urged district heads and governors to dip into rice reserves and funds from the Social Affairs Ministry.

He said, based on the ministry’s calculations, that 13,721 tons of rice were needed for the affected fishermen and their families.

According to a Social Affairs Ministry regulation, in a time of social disaster, the government could distribute 0.4 kg of rice per person for two weeks.

Social Affairs Minister Salim Segaf Al Jufri told reporters that his ministry had approximately Rp 540 billion ($59.4 million) in deconcentration funds distributed to regional governments, which could be used to help the fishermen and their families. A deconcentration fund is the central government’s money handed to provincial administrations for various development programs.

“District heads, governors, please do something to help the fishermen that were affected by the extreme weather,” he said.

The extreme weather has already caused significant flooding and damage to several provinces, including in parts of Java and East Nusa Tenggara.

“The extreme weather is expected to last until April, although the daily situation will fluctuate,” Kukuh Ribudianto, from the National Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG), said on Sunday.

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