Purse seine

Most of the fish landings come from purse seine vessels. The majority of these vessels are small and operate in coastal and archipelagic waters, while large industrial vessels are equipped to fish further of coasts in EEZ waters or at the high seas. Total catches in 2014 were 1,190,832 tonnes, of which 417,051 tonnes were tuna species (Fishery Yearbook 2015, DGCF). The Indonesian purse seine fishery for albacore, yellowfin and bigeye tuna is currently engaged in Fishery Improvement Project (FIP), which is lead by PT Intimas Surya. Purse seine fishing is locally known as ‘pukat cincin’.

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


Fishing areas

FAO 57 (Eastern Indian Ocean) and FAO 71 (Western Central Pacific Ocean)

Target species

Tuna species: skipjack tuna, yellowfin tuna and bigeye tuna
Small pelagics: scad, short-bodied mackerel, travallies, gold strip sardinella, Bali sardinella and Indian mackerel

Landing areas

Main areas are Central Java, North and South Sulawesi

Potential risks
  • Bycatch of endangered species
  • Slavery
  • IUU fishing
  • Overfishing
  • Post harvest loses
  • Cold chain

Fleet and boat characteristics

Purse seine vessel sizes range from 10 to over 100 GT. Government statistics show that in 2014 23,225 purse seine units were operating in Indonesia, but no further distinctions are made. 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. Of these vessels, 1,357 held a license. Carrier and catching vessels held 53 licenses, and vessels targeting small and large pelagics held respective 970 and 334 licenses.

Purse seine vessels often have chilling and/or freezing facilities on board to preserve catches, which can rang from primitive bags filled with saved ice to state of the art blast freezing equipement. Vessels can either be owned by fishermen themselves, funded by or part of processing companies, or rented out by middlemen.

Fishing method

For tuna seining, a distinction is often made between Fish Aggregation Device (FAD) associated or non-FAD associated fishing. Purse seine vessels encircle free-swimming surface-schooling fish or around a FAD while setting out the net. When the school is captured inside the net, the end of the net is closed and the bottom is pursed (FAO Fisheries & Aquaculture Department, 2016). The net is then hauled on board either manually or automatically, depending on vessel size.

Target species

Dominant target species for canned tuna are skipjack tuna, juvenile yellowfin and bigeye tuna and juvenile albacore, as larger/adult fish fetch higher prices as fresh or frozen tuna products.

There is not much known on actual target species for sardine and mackerel purse seine fishery for canning purposes. Government statistics show that main catches of small pelagic fish by purse seiners are: scad, short bodied mackerel, trevallies, gold strip sardinella, Bali sardinella and Indian mackerel.

Fishing areas

Small purse seiners (ranging from 15 -30 GT) can be found in the east of Indonesia, while large industrial seiners mostly operate in the western waters (FAO area 71). Purse seine vessels that operate in the west of Indonesia tend to be small (10-30 GT), target small pelagic species and concentrate primarily in the Java Sea, South China/Natuna Sea, Malacca Strait and Maluku Sea. Purse seine vessels operating in the WCPO tend to be large industrial vessels, exceeding 100 GT.

Landing areas

Landings from purse seiners correspond with the fishing areas. In the East of Indonesia catches are landed in Central Java (AFP Pekalongan) and DKI Jakarta (OFP Nizam Zachman Jakarta). Western catches are landed in North and South Sulawesi (OFP Bitung and FLCs).


Tuna is a seasonal and migratory species. High season for catching tuna in the Pacific Ocean are from March to October (WCFPC, 2009). Peak seasons in the Indian Ocean are from February to March and September-November (IOTC, 2012). Main seasons for small pelagics around Java are September-November, and June.

Stock status

Yellowfin tuna stocks are at high risk in the Indian Ocean (RASS, 2016). Others are either low risk (skipjack tuna, bigeye tuna) or unknown. Stock status of small pelagics is often difficult to assess because of the schooling behavior of the fish. There are indications that Bali sardinella in the seas around Java is overfished (FishSource, 2016).