Bitung is a port city in North Sulawesi, famous for its seafood products. The Bitung economy is largely driven by the fisheries sector, with most of its population depending on this sector for their livelihoods.
Since 1986, Astina Monto has been a large scale fish seller who trades at the Bitung Fish Auction. As a large scale fish seller, Astina is very skilled in estimating the prices of various fish species in the auction. She trades many varieties of fish, including tuna, mahi-mahi, tude, and gorara.
Her journey began when she followed her brother, who is a large scale fish seller, and started to sell fish at the market. Over time, she began to increase the number of fish that she was selling, then she grew her effort – selling to different markets in Airmadidi, Manado, even until Sangihe and Gorontalo Islands.
When large fishing companies started their establishment in Bitung, Astina expanded her business and focused on selling fish directly to these companies. Although her business has become more lucrative through this effort, Astina continues to sell at Bitung Fish Auction Place as she stays loyal to her regular customers who are always waiting for her. In a day, Astina is able to sell at least 50 kg of fish and sometimes up to 500 kg.
For almost 30 years as a large scale fish seller, Astina has certainly experienced many changes related to the sector. The one with the most impact was when the Government issued a moratorium on foreign fishing licenses, she witnessed that local fishers brought home more fish. Due to regulations that restrict IUU and the use of the Vessel Monitoring System (VMS), the national production of wild-capture fisheries has increased by 25% (Global Fishing Watch, 2019).
Competing with male fish sellers in the auction place is a normal thing and not a problem for Astina. She believes that the key to success as a large scale fish seller is determined by the ability to trade and estimate fish prices. Astina works tirelessly and trusts that God has planned her fortune and she should do her best to achieve it.
This story is a part of the Indonesian Women in Fisheries campaign, organized by SecondMuse and USAID Oceans and Fisheries Partnership, to increase public awareness of the importance of women’s role in the seafood sector. Seven inspiring women from Bitung, North Sulawesi, Indonesia will be profiled throughout the campaign. Follow #IDwomeninfisheries on Instagram and Twitter to catch all the stories.