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Donggala Could Become Important Indonesian Port For Yellowfin


Fishermen unload fish to a small dinghy to be brought ashore at the Donggala fishery port in Central Sulawesi
Donggala regency, located some 35 kilometers from the Central Sulawesi provincial capital of Palu, is one of the biggest sea fish producers in the province. One of its primary commodities is yellowfin tuna.

For local fishermen, catching tuna means good money. The fish is much sought after in the Japanese and US markets and major cities across the globe, including Jakarta.

Two tuna species dominate the waters around Central Sulawesi, including Tomini Bay. They are the yellow-fin (Thunnus albacares), locally called madidihang, and big-eye tuna (Thunnus obesus).

Central Sulawesi Maritime Affairs and Fishery Agency head Hasanuddin Atjo said the yellow-fin and big-eye tuna were mostly found in three clusters — Makassar Strait; Sulawesi Sea, especially the waters off Buol, Tolitoli and the border between Donggala and Tolitoli, Tomini Bay, especially in Banggai, Tojo Una-Una and Parigi Moutong, bordering Gorontalo province; and Tolo Bay, especially Banggai Islands and Morowali, bordering Maluku province.

It is not surprising that Donggala fishermen seek tuna as far as Tomini Bay. However, Central Sulawesi lacks adequate cold storage facilities, so the fish must be sent to Gorontalo and Makassar by sea or overland, or Bali and Jakarta by air through Mutiara Airport in Palu and Syamsuddin Amir Airport in Luwuk, Banggai regency.

The fish is usually landed at the Donggala fishery port (PPI). So far this year, the volume of fish caught stands at only around 350 tons, at a value of some Rp 14 billion (USD 1.43 million), however this volume could be raised several fold.

Hasanuddin said only between 30 and 40 percent of tuna caught in the Makassar Strait and Sulawesi Sea in Central Sulawesi was landed at Donggala PPI.

“The rest is landed in Gorontalo and several other places along the coast of Central Sulawesi which are not recorded,” Hasanuddin told The Jakarta Post in Palu.

Larger amounts of tuna caught in Tomini and Tolo bays are landed in Gorontalo, Bitung (North Sulawesi) and Makassar (South Sulawesi).

Fishermen from Central Sulawesi prefer selling their tuna in Gorontalo and Bitung due to the higher prices of between USD 7 and USD 8 per kilogram, while it might only fetch USD 4 per kg in Donggala.

In Donggala, the potential catch of fish from the Sulawesi Sea and Palu Bay could be up to 165,000 tons annually.

The fishery supports 808 households which still use traditional jukung boats while 82 households use modern fishing boats with inboard engines.

Amir Ceppi, 50, a fisherman in Donggala, said the fishermen usually set out to sea for up to three days to catch yellowfin tuna and cakalang (skipjack tuna).

He said that he and his shipmates could fill 70 50-kilogram baskets in each trip. “The smaller fish is sold at between Rp 600,000 and Rp 750,000 per basket. But when there is plenty of fish, the catch is usually sold at between Rp 350,000 and Rp 450,000 per basket,” Amir told the Post in Donggala.

He added that each fishing boat could catch up to Rp 8.6 billion worth of tuna and Rp 4.6 billion of other fish per year. They must deduct operational costs from this revenue as well as share the profits with the boat owners.

Tuna fishing differs from other types sea fishing that are all-year-round. The tuna season is at the end of the year with smaller catches at the start of the year.