Finalist, Seafood Champion Awards Leadership Category
Tony carrying a box from a truck

Mr. Tony Marta Wijaya is a tuna supplier in Moluccas, East Indonesia. These middlemen typically earn a lot of money when compared to the fishers they buy from, but Tony has put supporting his fishers ahead of personal gain.

Tony examining tuna He was involved in the creation of a Fishers Association in the village of Waepure that obtained Fair Trade USA wild capture fisheries certification in late 2014, thus improving fisher’s marketing opportunities and reducing their reliance on suppliers like Tony. In addition to insisting that his fishers catch fish in a sustainable way, he is active in co-management groups collecting fisheries data, monitoring, and in efforts to increase safety and financial stability of fishers.
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Most of the small scale fishermen in Indonesia are dependent on the middlemen who provide their financial support for fishing trips and others. For that service, fishermen have to accept the price offered by the middlemen, holding back fishermen from developing themselves personally and financially. Stereotypically middlemen earn a lot of money when compared to what fishermen earn, even though fishermen are those conducting the riskier activity and the most time consuming work.

Those stereotypes do not apply to Pak Tony, one of suppliers in Waepure, East Indonesia, who has been strongly involved in the initiation and development of a Fishers Association (FA) in this village, which has become one of four FAs to obtain the new Fair Trade USA wild capture fisheries certification in late 2014. These four fisher associations are the very first fisher groups to ever obtain this new certification. Tony is the middleman who buys the fish from these fishermen, and after an initial introduction to the FT standard and an explanation what this certification could mean for his fishermen, he was on board to try and bring the work and implementation forward. He saw immediately the possibility to bring change for the fishermen, the possibility for them to be more prosperous, better trained, empowered and more insightful. Others, both fishers and middlemen, were mistrusting and skeptical on the FT concept but Tony embraced it and pushed the fishermen to participate, even understanding that potentially empowered fishermen may decrease their reliance on him. The certification means that the fishermen now sell the world’s first FT certified fish into the international market, receive a 10% premium for this effort, which is invested into community improvement projects. This has brought a strong sense of pride to the community.

Additionally, Tony has been actively supporting the development of POKMASWAS (Kelompok Masyarakat Pengawas), a community based monitoring and surveillance program. As progress and response from government is often slow he has been known to spend his own money to go on search and rescue trips for his fishermen. He is also active in a locally based co-management group which meets to discuss the specific fishery, the data collected locally and what it means for the region. He actively conveys the aspirations of fishermen and the conditions encountered in fishing communities to this co-management group, advocating for zoning, increased patrolling, safety measures for small scale fishermen, financial support for fishermen. With regard to Endangered Threatened and Protected (ETP) species work in the locality, fishermen inform him if and when catches or interactions have taken place and then he informs the local government for further action. He, alone among other suppliers in the region, has a rule: “his fishermen must catch fish in a sustainable way” and always encourages them not to catch turtles or other ETPs. He has firmly declared to his fishermen that he will not buy the fish from fishermen who have caught turtles.

What local and/or international partners does Tony Marta Wijaya work with?

  • MDPI (Yayasan Masyarakat dan Perikanan Indonesia)
  • Fair Trade
  • MMAF (Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries Republic of Indonesia)

How well does Tony Marta Wijaya and his work demonstrate the qualities of the category?

We see Tony as a true hero in the village of Waipure. His encouragement and vision has helped put Waipure and its fishermen on the map as the first FT certified fishery in the world. His leadership and sustainability approach is unique and inspiring… a true champion for his fishermen and for the lucky organizations such as MDPI who work with him!

In what ways has Tony Marta Wijaya positively affected, or mitigated negative impacts of, the seafood industry?

He has strongly been involved in the initiation and development of a Fishers Association (FA) in the village, which has become one of four FAs to obtain the new Fair Trade USA wild capture fisheries certification in late 2014. These four fisher associations are the very first fisher groups to ever obtain this new certification. Tony is the middleman who buys the fish from these fishermen and from an initial introduction to the FT standard and an explanation what this certification could mean for his fishermen he was on board to try and bring the work and implementation forward.

In what way do you feel this nominee’s story could inspire others and communicate successes achieved in sustainable seafood?

With regard to Endangered Threatened and Protected species work in the locality, fishermen inform him if and when catches or interactions have taken place and then he informs to local government for further action. He, alone among other suppliers in the region, has a rule: “his fishermen must catch fish in sustainable way” and always encourages them not to catch turtles or other ETPs. He has firmly declared to his fishermen that he will not buy the fish from fishermen who have caught turtles.

How would Tony Marta Wijaya’s work serve as a replicable model for others who want to have a similar impact?

He is also active in a locally based co-management group which meets to discuss the specific fishery, the data collected locally and what it means for the region. He actively conveys the aspirations of fishermen and the conditions encountered in fishing communities to this co-management group, advocating for zoning, increased patrolling, safety measures for small scale fishermen, financial support for fishermen.

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