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Massive losses incurred by Indonesia from smuggling of lobster seeds

Indonesia faces a staggering IDR 30 trillion (approx. US$2.1 billion) loss from lobster seed smuggling. Joint operations seized 1.6 million seeds; Vietnam emerged as the primary destination.



Indonesia is grappling with substantial financial losses due to the rampant smuggling of lobster seeds, according to Rear Admiral Adin Nurawaluddin, Director General of Marine and Fisheries Resources Surveillance at the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (KKP).

In a statement on Saturday (2 Dec), Nurawaluddin revealed that the smuggling of lobster seeds (known as Benih Bening Lobster or BBL) from January to November 2023 has resulted in a staggering Non-Tax State Revenue (PNBP) potential loss of IDR 30 trillion (approx. US$2.1 billion).

Illustration: The officers from the Fish Quarantine Station, Quality Control (KIPM), and Security of Fisheries Products Class I in Jambi display evidence of smuggled lobster seeds. (Photo: ANTARA)

“The smuggling of BBL is suspected to have eradicated a PNBP potential of up to IDR 30 trillion,” stated Adin.

Operational efforts, including coordinated raids involving KKP, National Police (Polri), Navy (TNI AL), Ministry of Transportation (Kemenhub), Customs, Naval Base, Angkasa Pura, and others, have led to the seizure of 1,618,395 BBL worth IDR 163 billion (US$11 million) by 30 November 2023.

Among the successfully thwarted attempts were in Surabaya (14 Apr) with 212,566 BBL valued at IDR 8.8 billion (US$600,000), Batam in July with 49,463 BBL totaling IDR 5.5 billion (US$40,000), and another incident in Batam with 71,226 BBL amounting to IDR 8.9 billion (US$570,000).

Subsequent interceptions took place at Soekarno-Hatta Airport in July with 34,222 BBL valued at IDR 5.3 billion (US$380,000), followed by September with 174,000 BBL estimated at IDR 26.5 billion, and an additional 34,472 BBL valued at IDR 3.9 billion (US$270,000).

In September, a significant bust occurred in Tangerang involving 350,000 BBL with an estimated economic value of IDR 87.5 billion (US$6.1 million), and in Surabaya during the same month, 55,312 BBL valued at IDR 6.9 billion (US$480,000) were seized.

Illustration: Lobster seeds. (Photo:

Indonesia, boasting a sustainable potential of 465,776,023 lobster seeds across 11 Fishing Management Areas of the Republic of Indonesia (WPPNRI), has collaborated with six agencies for operations against BBL smuggling.

These agencies include the Indonesian Navy, National Police, Maritime Security Agency (Bakamla), Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Transportation, and the Indonesian Quarantine Agency (Barantin).

The smuggling network’s primary destination is Vietnam through Singapore. Adin Nurawaluddin emphasized the purpose of joint operations, stating, “The goal of this joint operation is to have a deterrent effect and take action against the indications of BBL distribution outside the Indonesian territory.”

Adin outlined several smuggling methods, including overland, aerial, and maritime routes. The first indication suggests the seeds are transported across the islands of Java and Sumatra, then forwarded to Singapore for repackaging before reaching Vietnam.

Furthermore, smuggling also occurs through air routes, with perpetrators distributing seeds from small and large collectors through international airports such as Soekarno–Hatta International Airport, Juanda International Airport, Ngurah Rai International Airport Bali, and Lombok International Airport, with the final destination being Vietnam.

The PSDKP recorded a high demand from the lobster industry in Vietnam, estimating a request for 600 million lobster seeds with an export value of US$3 billion. Adin commented, “All lobster seeds developed in Vietnam originate from Indonesia.”

After inaugurating the joint operation, Adin inspected several patrol ships tasked with capturing BBL smugglers in Indonesia.

He stated, “Over the next month, this joint operation is expected to prevent the potential smuggling of lobster seeds to Vietnam.”

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