New hope from Banggai Island

New hope from Banggai Island

Wednesday, the 4th October 2018, was a big day for the BCF Lestari community group of Bone Baru, a small village on Banggai Island. A fishers’ group who used to collect Banggai Cardinalfish (BCF)(Pterapogon kauderni) for a living, is now preparing to send their first shipment of captive-bred BCF to Denpasar, Bali, and then to the Maidenhead Aquatics, UK retail shops. The group has received support from the Ministry office of Marine Affairs and Fisheries (MMAF) to build a small, modest aquaculture facility. The purpose of this government aid is to try to help the villagers breed BCF to reduce the pressure of collection from their natural habitats. The MMAF requested LINI to assist in the development of the community aquaculture effort in Bone Baru, because LINI has had a long relationship with the fishers of Banggai, and has successfully breed BCF at the LINI Aquaculture and Training Centre (LATC) in North Bali. The members of the BCF Lestari community group lent a hand in constructing the facility. The village of Bone Baru contributed a piece of land where the facility was built and has given the community group the right to use the land. 

Although LINI has run an aquaculture facility in North Bali, we faced big challenges in assisting the Bone Baru aquaculture community, these being the limited human resources capacity of the local people and the unreliability of the electricity supply. Bone Baru used to be the trade hub for BCF since the mid-1990s and members of BCF Lestari were BCF collectors and traders. As collectors, they just needed to collect the fish and sell them on the same day on which the fish had been collected. Therefore there were no problems of holding the fish, and the fishers also received cash payments on the same day as the sales. In contrast, when breeding the BCF in the aquaculture facility, they need to wait for toil the fish grow, and nurture them until they are of a saleable size. Changing the mindset of the community from being fish collectors to becoming fish farmers, is a big challenge!

With the funding received from the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund, LINI has been able to train and mentor the members of BCF Lestari to run the aquaculture facility. Two of community members being trained are women. In March this year, the first BCF babies were produced in the facility. In May 2018, Ibu Susi, the Minister of the MMAF, visited Bone Baru and witnessed the breeding success of the community for herself, which was a huge inspiration and honour for the villagers. During May 2018, over 1000 BCF babies were produced, and a further 400 were born in July.

                               

The second challenge in running the aquaculture facility has been the very limited and unreliable electricity supply, as is still common in remote areas. Complete power blackouts have recently been frequent, and, because the facility relies on a constant electricity supply to run the water pumps and lights, these power cuts threaten the well-being of the fish. Therefore, the facility urgently needs an alternative source of energy, the best option being from solar panels. In addition, electricity storage capacity in the form of batteries (charged by day by the solar panels) would ensure a continuous supply of power during the night.

The BCF Lestari community group now has the knowledge and skills to run the aquaculture facility, and produce BCF to offer to the aquarium trade, instead of collecting them from the wild. However, a major obstacle for them is the intermittent electricity supply, which can potentially cause the loss of the BCF stocks that the community has worked so hard to produce. Our hope is that they can receive help in the form of donations for the purchase of solar panels and storage batteries. 

For LINI, the success of the Bone Baru community to run their aquaculture facility is a huge achievement, because LINI’s work in developing a community-based aquaculture facility in Bali has been now replicated in a more remote area. LINI believes that community-based nature conservation efforts are the key to successful biodiversity conservation here in Indonesia, and the Bone Baru experience is a working example of what can be achieved. And although this is only the start, it is the beginning of new hope.

Footnote: At the time of writing, the aftermath of the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami that hit Sulawesi further north is still being felt, but fortunately the Banggai Islands were far enough away from the epicenter to only experience the shaking from the main quake and aftershocks. Thankfully, although the facility experienced a lack of electricity for an extended period, no buildings in the aquaculture facility were damaged, and no people were hurt.

“The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund is a joint initiative of l’Agence Française de Développement, Conservation International, the European Union, the Global Environment Facility, the Government of Japan, the MacArthur Foundation and the World Bank. A fundamental goal is to ensure civil society is engaged in biodiversity conservation.”

 

News from the field

News from the field

Since March we have been very busy hosting interns and volunteers at the LATC in North Bali, and in our field project on Banggai Island. Our Indonesian interns, Adam and Karina, have been diving and helping with our marine conservation program on the coral restoration site at Les village. Karina is focusing on the monitoring of the growth of the corals we transplanted onto the artificial reef structures, while Adam is helping with our aquaculture activities.

We have been very lucky to have Jonathan from the UK, helping us to understand more about technical aspects of aquaculture. It is always good to have fresh input from the outside world, and Jonathan has given us much useful information and food for thought.

Jonathan from UK
Jonathan from UK

Vany, from West Sumatra, has been volunteering in Banggai Island since March. She has been helping in the training and mentoring of the local communities of Bone Baru village, and learning how to breed the endangered Banggai cardinalfish (BCF). In Bone Baru, LINI is helping the local community to set up a community-based breeding program for BCF, to help to reduce the collection of BCF from their natural habitats. We still have a long way to go, but the people of Bone Baru are keen to learn and support the conservation of this rare fish that lives in their area.

helping local communities Bone Baru Banggai Island
Vany, with hat on, helping local communities from Bone Baru Banggai island

In May 15, the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries visited the community-breeding in Bone Baru, and learned that the people of Banggai have been working hard towards conservation of the endemic species and marine habitat.

Conservation efforts for the Banggai Cardinalfish in Banggai Island

Conservation efforts for the Banggai Cardinalfish in Banggai Island

Yayasan LINI and Yayasan KALI (Khatulistiwa Alam Lestari) conducted surveys of the Banggai Cardinalfish as an effort to monitor the populations of this endangered species in Banggai Laut District, Central Sulawesi. This activity has been conducted annually since 2014 with the purpose of supporting the conservation and management of the Banggai Cardinalfish populations within the area of their natural distribution from year to year.

The Banggai Cardinalfish (Pterapogon kauderni) is a species of reef fish endemic to the Banggai Archipelago in Northeast Sulawesi, Indonesia, and has a very limited geographical range. It is a popular marine aquarium fish that has been exploited for overseas markets since the mid-1990s.

The survey was conducted in early May 2017 at 11 different locations around Banggai Island: Popisi, Asasal, Bone Baru, Bongo, Kapela, Tolokibit, Monsongan, Tinakin Laut,  Areas around Peleng Island (Liang village, Paisuluno, and Lumbia-Lumbia) were also surveyed. The results showed that Popisi had the highest numbers of Banggai Cardinalfish, with 1910 individuals in 1500 square meters, while the lowest population density was found in Tolokibit, with around 108 individuals in 1500 square meters

The results of the survey were presented at the stakeholders’ meeting held in Banggai town in May 2017. The local stakeholders, which included local Government and community, appreciated the monitoring program and they have high hopes that this endemic fish will not become extinct. The purpose of the stakeholders meeting was to discuss the plan to include the species in the protected species list under National law, and several options for management measures of the Banggai Cardinalfish. These include closed seasons for fishing, the establishment of conservation areas, a quota which limits the harvested volumes of fish, and allowable size. Further discussions are planned to be held before the end of 2017.

“The survey and monitoring activities need to be done continuously in order to track the condition of the populations of this endemic fish so that, if necessary, rapid actions can be taken to save the fish from extinction.” said Surya Risuana, one of the  LINI field staff.

Furthermore, LINI plans to conduct aquaculture activities for breeding Banggai Cardinalfish along with regional Government of Banggai Laut in Banggai Island, to reduce further declines in the fish populations throughout their natural distribution.

Tracking the fishing activities of octopus fishers in Banggai Laut

Tracking the fishing activities of octopus fishers in Banggai Laut

On 28 April, nine Vessel Tracking Systems (VTS), provided by Pelagic Data Systems, were installed in nine dugout canoes belonging to octopus fishers from Popisi Village in North Banggai, Central Sulawesi. These solar powered devices automatically record the boats’  position every few seconds, and the data can be uploaded via the cellular phone netowrk. Surya Risuana, one of the LINI field staff, explained to the octopus fishers the purpose of the devices, and helped them to install the devices in their small dugouts. Octopus fishers fish in the coral reefs following the reef slopes, from early morning to midday.  With these devices, the project will have the opportunity to better understand the fishing patterns in the fishing grounds of the octopus fishers of Popisi village, and can be used as the basis for the development of  better fisheries management plans in the area.

Installing a VTS device in one of the dugout canoes
Octopus fishers and their VTS devices