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Friday, June 03, 2005

Securing the Sea Territory: Another Agenda in the 2005 Regional Elections

I Made Andi Arsana1, Sydney

Regional leadership election, which Indonesians refer to as PILKADA, is one of the most popular current issues in Indonesia. Those residing outside Indonesia can easily get updated by surfing the Internet. Among the news, most of them concern the issue of politics and democracy, ranging from the campaign of candidates across villages and the emergence of money politics, to the original sin of the new system. This article will not, in particular, highlight the politics and democracy but the regional authority in the sea territory (hereinafter referred to as sea territory). A candidate in the election has to comprehensively understand the rule of sea territory, aside of other important matters because two third of the country is marine area, which is exploitable for the prosperity of the people across the nation.

The first fundamental matter of which a candidate should be aware is the change of regulation dealing with regional government in Indonesia, from the Law No. 22/1999 to be the Law No. 32/2004. With regards to sea territory, these two laws differ quite significantly. The Law No. 22/1999 states “the area of Provincial Regions ... shall consist of inland area and marine area of twelve nautical miles measured from the coast line ...”. As argued by Prof. Jacub Rais, this is a definition of "territory", which regions interpret that there exist provincial sea and regency sea. This can potentially cause conflict of territory possession and natural resource exploitations. The regulation is intended to demarkate the authority between regional and central government, not necessarily to divide territory. This has been clarified in the Law No. 32/2004 by mentioning “the authority to manage the resources in the sea territory”, not “to possess provincial or regency sea”. It is worth emphasizing that the authority mentioned is only to manage resources not to fully posses the sea territory. This is different from that regarding land territory.

Law No. 32/2004 also emphasizes explicitly the fishing activities undertaken by traditional fishermen. It is explained that such activities are not limited by the arrangement of sea territory. In the other words, fishing conducted by traditional fishermen can be done regardless of the existence of a maritime boundary between regions. However, a governor or regent has to be critically aware of the definition of “traditional fishermen” to avoid potential inter-region conflicts in the future.

A few weeks ago, Kompas stated that Maluku, one of Indonesia’s provinces, asked for special maritime autonomy. Kompas argued that Maluku, geographically dominated by sea territory, deserves special authority to manage its sea territory. Minister of Department of Marine Affairs and Fisheries, Freddy Numberi has since positively responded to that claim. What a good news! This, once again, reminds us that it is truly essential for regional governments to secure their authority in the sea territory as it strongly influences their authority to utilize natural resources. As a part of an archipelagic country, a regency/municipality, the main holder of autonomy, is entitled to optimally (but wisely) exploit maritime resources.

The Law No. 32/2004 also states that each province is entitled to manage sea territory of 12 nautical miles (NM) measured from its outermost point. A regency, on the other hand, may claim one thirds of that of province. It is worth emphasizing that it is one third, not necessarily 4 (four) NM, as mentioned incorrectly in Kompas (8 May 2005), “Masyarakat Maluku Minta Otonomi Khusus Kelautan”. This means that if it is not possible for a province to claim up to 12 NM of sea territory, neither can a regency/municipality claim 4 NM. With regards to this, the Law No. 32/2004 does not state “4 NM” but “1/3 (one third) of the provincial authority” (article 18). This principle is crucial, since in defining sea territory, it is highly possible a province cannot fully claim 12 NM. Bali and East Java, for instance, could not claim 12 NM sea terriroty in Bali Strait, as its breadth is less then 12 NM. It is different from South Kalimantan, which can easily claim the breadth of 12 NM to the archipelagic water between Kalimantan and Java Islands.

Unfortunately, there is yet no technical guidance to employ those rules regulated in the Law No. 32/2004. Consequently, no formal technical standards have been created to arrange regional authority in the sea territory. However, it is worth noting that there has been a similar guide written based on the Law No. 22/1999 that may be comparable to look at. Given that the guidance is referenced to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982, it should still be relevant to be applied under the regime of the law No. 32/2004, at least until a new guidance is produced.

The guidance was one of the publications of the Coastal Resource Management Project (CRMP), written by Prof Jacub Rais in 2003 as one of the experts. The project was conducted by the Indonesian Government in collaboration with Coastal Resources Center University of Rhode Island (US) and funded by the USAID. Fundamental matters outlined in the guidance are the definition of adjacent and opposite province; the use of datum or reference for height definition; definition of bay; baselines and basepoints; the case concerning small island and fringing islands; the choice of chart; and administrative aspect regarding the stipulation matters.

Understanding the concept and regulation in defining the sea territory is an important agenda for a candidate in the 2005 regional election. With autonomy, a regional leader is expected to be able to optimally manage and exploit regional potency. Without comprehensive understanding, governors or regents will not be aware of the limit of maritime area they can utilize. How can they optimize the resource exploitation without an awareness of territory? So, if you happen to attend a campaign for election, do not forget to ask the candidates their strategy in securing the sea territory.

1Lecturer in the Department of Geodetic Engineering, UGM, currently studying technical aspects of Maritime Boundary at the University of New South Wales, Sydney

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