Indonesian Maritime Capacity Building

The CSIRO team are upskilling Indonesian colleagues with improved analytical tools and technological innovations to support the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries (MMAF) and its NGO partners.

This will aid in the detection of illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing activities, and inform decision making around the allocation of surveillance and enforcement resources.



Detection of IUU fishing activities, along with the efficient allocation of surveillance and enforcement assets to priority cases, are two major issues hindering Indonesia’s efforts to improve its fisheries management.

Indonesia has a national GPS tracking system for monitoring its 5,000 large industrial vessels. This data is currently processed manually and with current resources, this means a maximum of 72 vessels per day are tracked by authorities. Analysis of satellite radar imagery would be more efficient, however a single satellite radar scene covering 25km by 10km costs several thousand dollars. Despite a newly established satellite ground station in Indonesia, high resolution satellite radar data has proven too expensive for regular operational use.

Increased maritime surveillance, and more successful interdiction of illegal foreign operators in Indonesian waters, will reduce the economic and sustainability impacts of IUU fishing in Indonesia. But Indonesia’s difficulties in preventing illegal activity by their own vessels also lead to trans-boundary issues for Australia. Additionally, Indonesia is the gateway for foreign vessels, such as Vietnamese blue boats, to reach Australian waters. Improved maritime management in Indonesia will mean fewer small vessels reaching Australian waters, reducing costs, fisheries sustainability impacts, and biodiversity losses locally.


The Program

The program focuses on the two key problems of improving the use of existing data for fisheries monitoring and surveillance, and identifying and implementing new low-cost data sources appropriate for Indonesian use. While outputs of this program are focused on fisheries applications, improved tools for analysis of vessel behaviour and activity patterns will support several key focal areas for the Maritime Capacity Building Initiative. These include:

  • strengthening Indonesia’s maritime awareness;
  • support for combating international maritime crimes; and
  • improving Indonesia’s capacity to manage its maritime resources and environment.

We are using two vehicles to deliver the capacity building outcomes of the program, formal training and co-working on defined projects.


Indonesian Sea and Coast Guard


Formal training

Direct formal training includes a mix of skill building workshops in Indonesia and Australia; staff exchanges and internships between MMAF, NGOs, and CSIRO; and the opportunity for MMAF staff to undertake a linked formal postgraduate degree in Tasmania. This mixed approach will allow us to develop skills and familiarity with tools created for the project among frontline MMAF surveillance personnel, while at the same time providing development opportunities for more highly trained staff such as those at the national satellite data centre (Institute of Marine Research and Observation), and opportunities for in-depth training for leading technical staff members among the research and surveillance directorates in MMAF.


Collaboration on defined projects

Co-working on key projects allows in-depth interaction and learning opportunities between CSIRO, MMAF, and NGO staff. These projects focus on priorities identified during stakeholder workshops. The integrated teams will refine and operationalise problems developed by the stakeholders, creating customised analytical software or new applications of existing technologies to address these priorities. Participating staff have opportunities to acquire skills in data handling and management, statistical analysis, remote sensing, software and electrical engineering, and modelling of human behaviour.


Case study example

MMAF staff have identified transhipment of tuna catches at sea as a priority issue. Staff from the Ministry’s Centre for Fisheries Research and the DG of Surveillance together with the CSIRO team developed a set of indicators for inferring transhipment behaviour (Satria et al. 2018) and a software package to identify vessels engaging in this behaviour that is currently being implemented on DG Surveillance computer systems.