Press release / 1 September 2020

Both ENDS brings legal action against Dutch dredging company on behalf of fisherfolk in South Sulawesi

Environment and human rights organisation Both ENDS is bringing legal action against Boskalis, after the Dutch dredging company continually ignored requests for information on a controversial sand extraction project in South Sulawesi, Indonesia. Boskalis is extracting sand off the coast of Sulawesi for expansion of the port in the capital, Makassar. The extraction activities are affecting fishing grounds, making it impossible for local fisherfolk to earn their livelihoods.

"The fisherfolk feel that they are being ignored, as they have been given no information about the social, economic and environmental risks of the project or been involved in decision-making around its implementation," says Niels Hazekamp of Both ENDS. "Together with our local partner WALHI South Sulawesi, we have been urging Boskalis for a year to enter into dialogue with the fishermen and to provide basic information, such as the environmental impact assessment. That is compulsory under the law and under international standards that Boskalis itself claims to endorse. Unfortunately, the company does not comply with our requests, leaving us no other choice than to take them to court."

Through the legal action, Both ENDS wants the court to order Boskalis to provide information on the project, including the social and environmental risks. "This information will provide an insight into the risks that the project poses for the fishermen," says Hazekamp. "That will give them a more equal position and allow them to defend their rights."

As far as is known, this is the first time that a Dutch court has been asked to rule on whether a Dutch company active abroad can be obliged to provide information to direct stakeholders if their rights are being violated.

Focus on dialogue

With no dialogue and no information being provided, local tensions are rising rapidly. In recent months a group of around 1,000 fisherfolk have been protesting against the activities of the Boskalis ship Queen of the Netherlands. Both ENDS is concerned about the danger of escalation and condemns violence in any form. The organisation continues to urge Boskalis to engage in a peaceful and constructive dialogue, for which all stakeholders need to be well informed.

Stronger position

Fisherfolk were also excluded from a previous Boskalis sand extraction project in South Sulawesi. That led to a decline in catch of up to 80% for some of the fishing communities and erosion of the coast, resulting in a cemetery and a number of houses disappearing into the sea. Through this legal action, Both ENDS aims to improve the position of the fisherfolk in the current project. It also hopes that the case will bring clarity on companies' obligations to operate transparently and to provide information to local communities confronted with the consequences of their activities.

More information:

Niels Hazekamp 

The case will be heard on Wednesday 2 September in de court of Rotterdam

Article on previous Boskalis project in Makassar (December 2019)

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