Maritime Culture Empowerment under Indonesian Ocean Policy

Tukul Rameyo Adi *
Author Information & Copyright
*Coordinating Ministry for Maritime Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia.

© Copyright 2018 KNMM·IOCC·APOCC. This is an Open-Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Published Online: Dec 31, 2018


Maritime Culture is one of the 7 pillars of Indonesian OceanPolicy, while the Indonesian Ocean Policy is a big narrative of the Global Maritime Fulcrum development idea and Indonesia’s Maritime Policy consists of 7 pillars of policy. Maritime Culture has 6 main programs including the development of cultural values and maritime social system repository, improving ocean and culture literacy, harmonizing local wisdom in sustainable resources, historic seaport revitalization, reviving the understanding of maritime culture and innovation based on local wisdom development.

This paper is aimed at obtaining understanding of Indonesian Ocean Policy and the development of maritime culture empowerment as the policy’s action plan, particularly for the next 5 years 2020-2024 action plan. Maritime culture empowerment is carried out through 3 cultural development programs, namely Ocean and Culture Literacy, Culture Action or Activation, and Culture-based Innovation.

The Spice Route as a national heritage is proposed to be a major theme in the 5-year action plan on maritime culture empowerment through three priority works: improving cultural literacy and cultural connectivity with look east policy; encouraging the maritime generation through various activities in supporting sustainable development, particularly in supporting the tourism and Indonesia-centric program; and realizing maritime innovation based on empowering cultural and resources diversities.

Keywords: Global Maritime Fulcrum; GMF; Indonesian Ocean Policy; IOP; Empowerment; Local Wisdom; Traditional Knowledge; Spice Route; Literacy; Sustainable Development; SDG


October 28, 1928, the Youth Pledge declared the nationhood of Indonesia is land and water, demonstrates that Indonesia is a nation who is aware of its identity as both land and sea nation, a nation of farmers and sailors, and a nation who conquers the mountains and oceans. The fouding fathers fully realized that waters, straits, and seas in between the archipelago are an inseperable unison. Waters, straits, and seas unified Indonesia’s thousands of islands - not separating them.

With an extensive area of waters exceeding its lands, and its strategic crossing location, it is only natural for Indonesia to have a fundamental interest of controlling and utilizing its sea, to have a strong idenfity and maritime culture as well as to use its strategic location for the benefit of its people and to create security wthin its region in accordance with its constitutional mandate to “protect the entiry of nation and all of the people of Indonesia, to improve public welfare, to educate the life of the people and to participate in the establishment of a world order based on freeding, perpetual peace and social justice”.

Sriwijaya’s power followed by Majapahit Kingdom in controlling the strait of Malacca ant its success in creating equal relations with Chola Nalanda of India and Tang Dinasty of China and also the victory of Sultan Fatahillah in removing the Portuguese forces out of Sunda Kelapa Ba are clear evidence that Indonesia also has a strong maritime strategy culture.

After the Proclamation of Indonesian Independence on 17th August 1945, the unity of land and water of Indonesia became stronger as Indonesia, with diplomacy and without firing any single bullet, managed to change high seas separating her islands into waters under Indonesia’s sovereignty, in wich the implementation of its right and obligations are guaranteed under international law of the sea 182. The Convention was ratified by Indonesia into its national law. Sovereignty over the archipelagic waters was finally secured after refutation from countries against Djuada Declaration of 13th December 1957 and through difficult multilateral negotiations for more than a decade whereby the international community finally acknowledged Indonesia’s strong desire to realize the unity of its land and water through a legal innovation, srarting from the process of unilateral proclamation of archipelagic state until it become a general principle of international law.

International recognition towards Indonesia as an archipelagic state has raised the strategic value of geographic aspect of the Republic of Indonesia. Indonesia’s strategic position is not only seen as an intersection of two continents, Asia and Australia, and two oceans, the Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean, but also a location between the South China Sea and East Asia Sea and the Indian Ocean, between the liberal individualism in the South and communism in the North, between the commodity produces in the South and the commodity consumer in the North, between the non-nuclear power in the South and the Nuclear power in the North. Indonesia’s strategic position, along with geographical factors and socio-economic condition, has also put Indonesia in an important position in the global environment, namely in influencing political and economic stability and also influencing regional and international security.

With the abundant marine resources and strong maritime culture, the spirit to revitalize Indonesia’s maritime era is not impossible. Djuanda Declaration 1957 has given a new hope to return Indonesia as a maritime nation. The next step that needs to be taken is to change the nation mindset, attitude, and its pattern of actions that are based on the awareness of maritime areas as a place for Indonesian to conduct ocean-oriented development. Therefore, a vision in maritime development sectors have become a requirement and nececcity for Indonesia. Such vision is embodied through Indonesia’s vision as Global Maritime Fulcrum (GMF), wich means that Indonesia is a sovereign, advanced, independent, strong maritime nation that is able to provide positive contribution for peace and security of the region and the world in accordance with its national interest.

The GMF development includes (1) building Indonesian maritime culture; (2) maintain the sea pace and marine resources, with a focus on building seafood sovereignty through the development of the fishing industry by placing fishers as the main pillar; (3) giving priority to infrastructure development and maritime connectivity, by building sea highways, deep sea ports, logistics and shipping industries, and marine tourism; (4) strengthening maritime diplomacy, cooperation in maritime affairs, eliminating sources of conflict in the sea such as illegal fishing, violations of sovereignty, territorial disputes, piracy, and marine pollution; and (5) building maritime force of defense to safeguard maritime sovereignty and wealth as well as the form of responsibility in maintaining maritime safety and security to build maritime defense forces.

The GMF can be realized if there are precise, effective and competitive policies and programs. These programs of maritime development are widespread within various Miniterial and Non-Ministerial government istitutions. Therefore, the national document of the Indonesian Ocean Policy is important to synergize and harmonize all ocean-based development programs to be more focused and targeted so that results can be measured.

Indonesia’s nature in itself has astrategic value for the Earth. Indonesia is accountable for the second largest tropical forest in the world, around 2% of world’s coral reefs, around 20% of the world’s mangrove forests, around three million hectares of seagrass meadows, and a throughflow location of great current from the Pacific and Indian Oceans. These render Indonesian seas as a rich source of foor for the sea life.

The national Document of the Indonesian Ocean Policy will serve as guideline for Ministerial and Non-Ministerial government institutions and local government in planning, implementing, monitoring and evaluating the development in maritime aspect, and alse as a reference for socuity in general and private scctors in participating in the maritime development for the realization of the GMF. The national Document of the Indonesian Ocean Policy is an instrument synergizing all steps and movements of all stakeholders in achieving Indonesia’s aspiration to become GMF.

Indonesian Ocean Policy

Indonesian Ocean Policy covers very broad and complex aspects interconnected one to each other. There are many actors involved in the implementation of marine and maritime programs. The development of marine and maritime programs needs to be implemented holistically, integratively, thematically, and synergistically towards the realization of Indonesia as the World Maritime Fulcrum. In accordance with the Global Mritime Fulcrum, Indonesia’s Maritime Policy consists of 7 pillars of policy, principles, and 77 strategic programs. The road map compiled based on Presidential Regulation number 16 of 2017 concerning Indonesian Maritime Policy carries the target as a mission, one of which is “reviving maritime identity, and maritime culture”.

Indonesian Ocean Policy is established with reference to the Indonesian Development Vision as contained in Law Number 17 of 2007 on the Long-term National Development Plan 2005-2025 and Law Number 32 of 2014. In order to implement such vision, it is important to set the aim as the mission of Indonesian Ocean Policy, including sustainable management of marine resource and ocean governance, maritime safety and security development, maritime industrial growth enhancement, maritime culture empowerment and human resources development.

The realization of Indonesian vision and mission should be in accordance with the national interest, as well as just and optimum utilization of the welfare of Indonesian people. Indonesian Ocean Policy is based on six basic principles, wich are (1) wawasan nusantara; (2) sustainable development; (3) blue economy; (4) integrated and transparent management; (5) participation; and (6) equality and equitability.

Wawasan Nusantara is a long-term national vision and the basis of implementation of national development in realizing the Indonesia’s long-term development objective as contained in Decree of the People’s Representative Assemply Number II/MPR/1993 on the General Guidelines of Stetes Policy. Wawasan Nusantara is a national philosophy based on Pancasila, the Five Principles of the State, and the 1945 Constitutional of the Republic of Indonesia, namely Indonesian perspective and view about themselves and their environment for national unity and integrity, as well as territory integrity in the implementation of their life as a nation. Wawasan Nusantara includes the embodiment of Indonesia archipelago as one political, economic, soceial, culture entity, as well as defense and security unit.

Sustainable Development is an approach to ensure the development of various economic activities must able to fulfil the needs od present and future generation. Therefore, the economic development must be implemented based on sustainable principle thus (1) the exploitation of resources must not exceed the regeneration ability of the renewable natural resources or the place of innovaton of substitution of the nonrenewable resources, as well as the utilization on non-renewable resources would not cause damage to the renewable resources; (2) the current exploitation of resources may not forfeit (the quality and quantity) the needs of future generation; and (3) the exploitation of resources, which the impact has not been recognized, must be conducted diligently and supported by reliable scientific research. Sustainable development principle is also governed in Law Number 32 of 2009 on the Environtmental Protection and Management.

Figure 1. Indonesia’s Maritime Policy consists of 7 pillars of policy, principles, and 77 strategic programs source: Indonesian Ocean Policy, 2017
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The Blue economy is a model for economic development which integrates land and ocean-based development while taking into account the carrying capacity of the resources and environment. In principle, the resources of land, sea, and air should be synergized to become Indonesia’s strength.

Integrated management is conducted in a multi-diciplinary, interregional, inter-sectoral and cros-sector manner. Integrated, in the sense that all aspects of the management shoud be unified under one system instead of treated as separate components. In management system that is integrated, there must be interrelation between one aspect and another to avoid overlapping authority. Such management should also be carried out under the principle of transparency, using clear regulations, being open in its formulation and execution, providing sufficient information which easily understood by the various stakeholders.

The principles of participation is important as every stakeholder is expected to play a role in the planning, implementation, monitoring, and controlling in accordance with each individual role; to possess open information to understand government’s policy and have sufficient access to utilize resources; to ensure the existence of representatives of the sakeholders in decision-making and take part in identifying threats and opportunities; and to utilize the resources equitably.

The basic principle of equitability in Indoneai’s ocean development is to ensure that individuals or groups of individuals are treated fairy, equally, and mutual profitably, regardless of ethnic group, race, religion or belief, and gender while prioritizing Indonesians who live in remote regions or those yet to be well-connected outside of Java, Bali, Lombok, and Sumatera.

Figure 2. 7 Pillars of Indonesian Ocean Policy source: Indonesian Ocean Policy, 2017
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Therefore, connectivity between Indonesia’s existing economic centers and other regions, such as Sabang, Natuna, Tarakan, Bitung, Miangas, Sorong, Merauke, Saumlaki, Ambon, Timo, and Flores is fundamental to the development of the people of Indonesia as a whole. Maritime development in Indonesia is still concentrated on certain regions, especially in the western part of Indonesia (Java, Bali and Sumatera). Indonesia’s ocean development must be done in an Indonesia-centric, a “look east policy” strategy, through tangible development programs on outer and remote islands, prioritizing the improvement of the welfare of the lower income groups such as small fishers and those working in the fishing industry.

Progress without equitability is not only contrary to the constitution, but is also not in line with the main essence of development, that is, the improvement of quality of human life. Economic inequlity will threaten the sustainability of progress itself and can be even lead to actions which could threaten public security.

There are seven pillars of Indonesian Ocean Policy, namely (1) the management of marine resources and the development of human resources; (2) marine security, law enforcement and safety at sea; (3) ocean governance and institution; (4) economic and infrastructure of marine sectors and prosperity enhancement; (5) management of ocean space and protection of marine environtment; (6) maritime culture; and (7) maritime diplomacy.

The objective of marine resources policy is to optimize the utilization and the exploitation of the marine resources in a sustainable manner through the principle of blue economy. The economic growth in the maritime sectors are materialized through sustainable development which efficient, value-added, inclusive, and innovative; to support all economic activities, consisting of trade of goods, services, and investment for the prosperity of the people.

The objective of the development of human resources policy is to enhace the capacity of human resources in maritime sectors in the most professional, ethic, and dedicated manner and putting national interest in supporting ocean development optimally and comprehensively.

The policy on defence, security, law enforcement and safety at sea is established to enforce law and sovereignty, protect the unity of the Republic of Indonesia and the nation from threats, challenges, obstacles and disruption at sea.

The objective of the policy of ocean governance and institution is to create a national ocean governance system in a comprehensive, integrated and effective manner. Such manner is needed for an effective implementation of national and provincial regulations in accordance with international lawa of the sea.

The objective of the policy of maritime economy is to make the maritime sectors as a basis for economic development. The potential of Indonesia’s maritime economy does not exit in waters under sovereignty of Indonesia but also in the area under national jurisdiction and international waters which can be managed based on international law. The development of marine resource-based economy is intended to enhance the prosperity of the people by advancing the national resources through a national maritime program along with fiscal, monetary and financial instruments as well as mobilization across sectors to support the development of maritime sectors.

In order to grow the maritime economy, the government develop and build maritime infrastructures to enhance the connectivity and development by using Indonesia-centric as a “look east policy” approach.

The prosperity enhancement policy has the objective to realize the ocean development useful for the prosperity of the people, especially those who live in coastal areas and small islands.

The policy of marine spatial management is aimed to protect the resources and environment based on environmenytal capacity and local wisdom, at national and international scale to utilize the marine resources and also to develop potential ares for production, distribution and services. The varied stakeholders of marine spatial management and utilization in Indonesia require references regarding the allocation of integrated and synchronized ocean space along with the land-spatial planning, in order to accommodate various interests and neds without creating conflicts on spatial uses.

The objective of marine environment protection policy is to conserve the marine resources and prevent any pollution and harm to the marine environment. Indonesia also needs to pay attention to the absorbtion capacity of greenhouse gases by coastal ecosystem dso that emissions produced in land, especially farming and industries, could be reduced by Indonesia’s blue carbon ability.

The objectives of maritime culture policy is to give comprehensive understanding of maritime outlook for all strata of communities in order to optimize the sustainable national maritime development. Through maritime culture, Indonesian will learn hardworking, resilience, innovation and enterpreunership, working in unison on “gotong royong”, respect to diversity and environtment.

Maritime diplomacy is the implementation of foreign policy to optimize the maritime potentials in fulfilling the national interest in accordance with national policies and intrnational law. Maritime diplomacy is not only defined in the traditional form ofinternational negotiation in maritime issues, maritime boundary delimitation or naval diplomacy. Maritim diplomacy is a form of foreign policy implementation which is not only related to maritime aspects of maritime assets, civilian and military, to fulfill national interest and accordance with national and international laws.

Maritime Culture Empowerment

The archipelago is the only region on the planet that has a long and continuous history (maritime), from 8000 BC to the present. Geographically, as a center for international shipping, the longest maritime axis formed a natural open society since the beginning of the first century and has the ability to adopt and assimilate foreign culture into their wisdom Sea and ocean are not a separator, but unites the nation, culture and politics so as to create communication and tolerance in diversity.

Figure 3. Maritime Culture’s main programs source: Indonesian Ocean Policy, 2017
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True culture is the direction of national development and cultural diversity is the identity of the Indonesian nation. Awareness as a large maritime nation built on a diversity of cultures, religions, languages, ethnicities, and ethnic groups that are embedded in the Pancasila is the key to surviving in the midst of competition for the world civilization megatrend. In the context of cultural empowerment, Indonesia has the Law Number 5/2017 concerning Culture Empowerment which is the direction of promoting national culture and aims to strengthen the unity.

As an archipelagic country, Indonesia has made maritime as part of Indonesian culture. Maritime culture is one of the main components forming a maritime civilization. The sea is a unifier and the future of Indonesia. Maritime culture has very important role to establish a maritime-oriented nation, and a strong maritime culture will make the ocean as a place for people to live, to survive, to work, to learn, to create and to educate.

The main programs in conducting the strategic policy of maritime culture are as follows:

  1. Improving the people’s education and awareness of the maritime sectors through all tracks, types and education levels;

  2. Identifying and inventorizing cultural values and maritime social systems in the unitary Republic of Indonesia as a system of national culture and outlook;

  3. Reviving the understanding of maritime culture;

  4. Harmonizing and developing local wisdom in sustainable management and utilization of marine resources; and

  5. Maintaining, developing and increasing the role of historic seaports.

Maritime Culture is one of the pillars of the 6 pillars of the Indonesian Ocean Policy, a policy to realize Indonesia as maritime country as well as global maritime fulcrum. Therefore, the Government is committed to continuing to empower maritime culture through the education, economic and tourism sectors. Maritime culture empowerment is carried out through 3 cultural development programs, namely Ocean and Culture Literacy, Culture Action or Activation, and Culture-based Innovation.

Ocean and Culture Literacy

Ocean and Culture Literacy aims to build interest and understanding of maritime and maritime culture with the main target of the younger generation. Activities can be in the form of repository of data and knowledge about the sea, repository of knowledge of maritime culture in the form of local wisdom and traditional knowledge.

The establishment of Intangible Cultural Heritage is also an effort to build Maritime culture literacy and is a commitment of the Government of Indonesia to protect cultural traditions inherited from generation to. According to Law Number 5 of 2017 concerning Cultural Advancement, 255 Intangible Cultural Heritage has been established in year 2018. With this determination, Indonesia has 819 Intangible Cultural Heritage of 8065 total cultural products.

Pinisi, the Sulawesi’s art of shipbuilding, one of Indonesia’s maritime heritage has been awarded as World Heritage by UNESCO. Pinisi is a maritime tradition that is around 5000 years old, making Tana Beru, Lemo-lemo and Ara-Bira the largest wooden shipyard in the world, where Austronesian explorers are spreading man most far-flung, dispersal and exchange networks.

Pinisi has a lot of knowledges about shipping technology, mapping and navigation, and other knowledge about the sea. Pinisi has invited various academics and community groups to revitalize and re-actualize archipelago shipping technology, especially to support people’s shipping and tourism.

Underwater heritage originating from valuable objects, the shipwreck in the past is also a source of maritime cultural literacy. Indonesian waters as one of the areas filled with hundreds of thousands of shipwrecks, especially in traffic lanes and trade centers. The ships are thought to carry cultural products such as ceramics, precious metals (gold, silver, bronze), precious rocks and other objects that are thought to be of high value. The location of shipwrecks in Indonesia is estimated to be around 3000 points, but those recorded in national data are around 463 points, and only 10 points have been evacuated.

The treasure of shipwreck (BMKT) in Indonesia has been decided as a wealth of maritime resources and must be managed as well as possible. BMKT will be directed towards management efforts that contribute to science and education in order to increase literacy, as well as to improve the welfare of the community through tourism activities.

Maritime Culture Action and Activation

Cultural activation is done with various kinds of cultural actions that aim to restore the maritime civilization of the archipelago, make the culture back as a lifestyle of the younger generation, and create cultural connectivity in the Indonesian archipelago. These cultural actions include the title of marine and coastal cultural tourism festivals, maritime expeditions, annual Indonesian sail events, various maritime games and sports competitions.

Ocean Literacy “take to school” is an activity that has been carried out since 2016 by incorporating maritime content into the basic and secondary education curriculum. This activity begins with trials on schools in 12 cities in 6 provinces and will be expanded in 21 provinces in Indonesia.

Culture-based Maritime Innovation

Culture-based Maritime Innovation can be categorized as an endogenous economic growth concept, which is a development based on innovation, with local potential as a basis for economic growth. Such development that is based on natural resource diversity, and cultural diversity. With the diversity of natural resources and the diversity of cultures and knowledge, Indonesia will be able to create hundreds or even thousands of patents, increasing TFP (total productivity factor) and in turn increasing global competitiveness.

The geographical condition of the archipelago consisting of thousands of islands and the long history of the Nation (Maritime) Nusantara bear a bio-cultural perspective, forming local wisdom, which did not separate land and sea concepts. The culture of Nyegara-Gunung, for example, is a local wisdom that has the values of integrated land-sea and inclusive development which is currently better known as the concept of sustainable Development Goals development. Ecosystem Approach for Fisheries management is another example of a new approach to fisheries management that aims to ensure sustainable resources and livelihoods. This approach has actually been long applied by the local wisdom of the community such as Panglima Laot in Aceh, SASI in Maluku, Awig-Awig in Bali and Lombok.

The world has been owed to the diversity of the archipelago. Nusantara’s spice inspired the development of knowledge in the fields of astronomy and climate, especially knowledge about the monsoon wind. The Spice Road, not only the trade route but also the intellectual exchange path, the motifs and forms of literature and art of Southeast Asian culture. Coastal literature grows from major cities in Java such as Surabaya, Gresik, Demak, Jepara, Cirebon and Banten, then spreads to Lombok, Palembang, Lampung, Banjarmasin, Aceh to Campa, Cambodia, and the Philippines. In the golden age of the Srivijaya kingdom, the Nusantara’s spice path was also used as a regional diplomacy way (politics, economics, and education), by building a dormitory for students studying Buddhism in Nalanda India, and several offering temples in Thailand.

Future Work

Indonesia as a global maritime fulcrum means to have competitiveness based on national values which are formed as a nation that lives in the world’s largest archipelago. Cultural diversity of Nusantara and natural diversity are the basic capital of development and a source of economic growth in Indonesia as an archipelago characterized by maritime archipelago. Nusantara culture is not only one of the pillars of development, but more than that, Nusantara Culture is actually the foundation of development.

Culture, especially maritime culture in the form of traditional knowledge and local wisdom is also the focus of SDG 13 (goal on climate change) and SDG 14 (life below water). Sustainable Development is basically the development based on national values and needs with a positive impact to cultural development. Sustainable Development will be realized by building national a comprehensive connectivity, including physical, social economic and cultural connectivity; developing human resources that has national identity and competitiveness, and promoting culture-based innovation to produce value-added commodities / products.

In strategic planning for the next 5 years, culture will become mainstream of the national development. Mainstreaming the Maritime Cultural Heritage, for a vision of Global Maritime Fulcrum and influencing the trend of global civilization, will be conducted through three priority works: (1) Continuing to improve cultural literacy and to establish cultural connectivity as a continuation of infrastructure development in the eastern region (look east policy); (2) Encouraging the maritime generation through various activities such as festivals, forums, art and sport competitions, in supporting sustainable development, particularly in supporting the Tourism Destination and Indonesia-centric program; and (3) Realizing maritime innovation based on empowering cultural diversity and diversity of resources for the development and advancement of maritime culture.

One strategy in realizing maritime culture empowerment is to build a cultural ecosystem. Such cultural ecosystem that is built with the N-Helix approach involving governments, academics, business and industry, society and community, the media and other cultural stakeholders. Nusantara Kingdom or Keraton Nusantara and local peoples are very potential stakeholders, with more than 300 entities and their role as cultural centers and sources of knowledge in the form of traditional knowledge and local wisdom. The Keraton Nusantara and the indigenous peoples are the gifts and strengths of future development. Most of Keraton Nusantara and indigenous peoples have their own local maritime characteristic, and treasure huge diversity of knowledge, technology and cultural products such as various wastra products, culinary, cosmetic, medicinal, and knowledge in the form of health, midwifery, irrigation, agriculture, disaster, and building technology, architecture, metallurgy, and navigation and shipping. All those knowledge, technology and cultural product will contribute to increase future maritime innovation and the global competitiveness.



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