The Indonesian pole-and-line fishery in totality is one of the largest in the developing world, but has decreased due to adverse economic factors and technological advances. Total catches in 2014 were 166,081 tonnes, of which 165,778 tonnes were tuna species. Pole-and-line fishing is considered as the most sustainable way of catching tuna. The Indonesian pole-and-line fishery for skipjack tuna and yellowfin tuna is currently engaged in a Fishery Improvement Project (FIP). The FIP is lead by the NGO International Pole-and-Line Foundation (IPNLF), the industry organisation Indonesian Pole- and-Line and Handline Association (AP2HI) and the NGO Anova Fishing Living/MDPI. The last two parties are increasingly representing the interest of local pole-and-line fishermen.

Keep in mind that Indonesian fishery data is generally perceived as inaccurate and that these numbers below should be considered as approximations.

Key features
Number of boats


Type of fishing

Artisanal, but increasingly industrial

Fishing areas

FAO 71 (Western Central Pacific Ocean)

Target species

Skipjack tuna, yellowfin tuna, frigate tuna and kawa kawa

Landing areas

North Maluku, North and South-East Sulawesi, East-Nusa Tengara

Potential risks
  • Safety on board
  • Post-harvest loses
  • Traceability of products

Fleet and boat characteristics

Pole-and-line vessels vary in size ranging from 5 GT to up to 30 GT. Vessels ranging from 20-30 GT are locally called ‘huhate’ and vessels ranging from 5-15 GT are known as ‘funai’. The fishing power of one huhate is on average equivalent to about two funai. In 2014 the number of pole and line units were 3,932, with 76 vessel licenses (Fishery Yearbook 2015, DGCF). A fishing unit is a combination of boats and gear. When a fishing boat deploys two different gears over the course of a year, its fishery unit is listed as two. The IPNLF (2012) estimated that there were around 232 larger pole-and-line vessels (huhate) operating in Indonesia in 2007.

Most of the pole-and-line vessels use shaved ice to preserve their catches. No pre-processing, such as gutting and beheading, is done on board. Vessels can be owned by individual fishermen, funded by or be part of processing companies or rented out by middlemen.

Fishing method

When a school of fish is located live bait fish is taken from water tanks located on deck and chummed in the water near the vessel, creating feeding frenzy in the school of tuna. Fishermen with fishing poles, position themselves along the board, aft side or all around the vessel and swing the fish on board that snap at the hooks in their feeding frenzy. After the fish is swung on deck it is easily removed from the barbless hook. This fish are stored in a cold storage department.

Target species

The tuna species caught by pole and line fishing are skipjack tuna, yellowfin tuna, frigate tuna and kawa kawa.

Fishing areas

Pole-and-line vessels predominantly operate in the Western Central Pacific Ocean (FAO 71).

Landing areas

The main landing areas for pole-and-line fishermen are in eastern provinces, like North Maluku (AFP Ternate), Maluku (AFP Ambon), North Sulawesi (OFP Bitung), East-Nusa Tengara (CFP Tenau Kupang) and South East Sulawesi (OFP Kendari).


Tuna is a seasonal and migratory species. High season for catching tuna in the Pacific Ocean are from March to October, with peak catches in March to August (WCFPC, 2009).

Stock status

Skipjack tuna stock in the Pacific are at low risk, as stock biomass is well above levels necessary to produce the maximum sustainable yield (RASS, 2016). Yellowfin tuna stocks in the Pacific were in 2011 not in an overfished state and overfishing did not occur (SFP, 2011). Current stock status of yellowfin tuna or the stocks of the other species is unknown.