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.”

 

Banggai Expedition to support our conservation work in the Banggai Islands

Banggai Expedition to support our conservation work in the Banggai Islands

Early this month, three students from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) joined us for a conservation expedition to Banggai Island. The main program to which they contributed their time was helping to trial the use of metal frames, which are called “spiders”, for reef rehabilitation in Bone Baru. This type of structure has been successfully used for reef rehabilitation in the Spermonde Islands (South Sulawesi). The trial site is in Bone Baru, a village where we implement most of our conservation activities. Many of the reefs surrounding the Banggai Islands have been badly damaged due to the use of destructive fishing techniques. The areas are also home to an endemic, endangered reef fish, the Banggai cardinalfish (BCF). The purpose of rebuilding the reef habitats around Bone Baru is to help the recovery of the BCF populations, because, besides the destruction of many BCF habitats, the populations have also declined significantly in the last 10 years as a result of over-collection for the aquarium trade.

The conservation expedition was financed by the Hong Kong Ocean Park Conservation Foundation, which has also funded LINI to implement its project in Banggai since 2016. Through this project, we have been able to monitor the populations of the BCF and their natural distribution in Banggai. The information gained has provided data for the Government to make appropriate policies that support the conservation of the BCF. Recently, our local community partners in Bone Baru installed a community-based captive breeding Centre for Banggai cardinalfish, which also functions as a marine conservation learning Centre.  The students Jack, Xandra, and Harry helped to work on some of the construction of this Centre, and also assisted in monitoring BCF populations in Liang (Peleng Island), where numbers have declined steeply, due largely to over-collection of the main BCF microhabitats, which are sea urchins and anemones. 

We are planning to organize more Banggai expeditions in 2018. If you are interested in joining one of these expeditions, and want to help us to carry out our conservation work in Banggai, please contact us at info@lini.or.id. It will enrich you with a unique conservation experience, and you will also have fun when working with the local communities in Banggai! 

Artificial Reef monitoring at Les village, North Bali

Artificial Reef monitoring at Les village, North Bali

Les village is known for its marine ornamental fishing tradition, for both the local and overseas markets. In the 1980s, and early 2000s potassium cyanide was extensively used because of its effectiveness in catching fish.  As a result, coral reef habitat sin the Les area were severely damaged, and lost much of their biodiversity. In an effort to rehabilitate the damaged reefs, the LINI Aquaculture and Training Centre (LATC) has deployed more than 2,000 artificial reef structures on the old reef flat, and many more structures are being added as time goes by. These three-dimensional structures have enhanced the reef significantly. Two of LINI’s latest interns, Anthony and Dewi, have been conducting regular artificial reef monitoring surveys to gain more understanding about the improvements our artificial reef structures are helping to create.

Currently, we have two on-going reef monitoring programs. First is the artificial reef coral recruitment survey. We counted the number of hard and soft coral structures, tunicates, sponges, and sea fans that grow on selected artificial reef structures at various depths. The data were used to compare the biodiversity on artificial reef structures that are located at 5 – 7 meters depth with those at 10 – 12 meters depth. In the second program, we tagged several hard coral structures, and measured how much they grow every week. We measure the sizes of the tagged corals, (length or width) depending on the species. Then we compare growth rates of corals growing at different depths. These monitoring programs are research-based activities, meaning that we are required to develop a research question with a scientifically-robust methodology. This information can be  applied to help us decide on to how to improve placement  of our artificial reefs on the sea bed, and more generally, to gain more knowledge  about marine science. We hope that these studies will help us to determine the most effective depths at which we need to deploy our artificial reef structures in the sea around Les. 

We are looking for dive volunteers to assist us in our reef monitoring programs. If you are interested in helping us, please contact us at info@lini.or.id. You do not need to have a background in marine science to be able to help us, as training will be given prior to conduct the monitoring.

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.

A One-Month Training Programme with Two Students from Cochin University, India

A One-Month Training Programme with Two Students from Cochin University, India

Sariga and Anju, two Students from Cochin University, Kerala, India,  took part in a  one-month training program from 14th May until 14th June, at the LINI LATC, desa Les, North Bali. This training programme aimed to teach them on-site about marine ornamental fish aquaculture, coral reef restoration, and fish identification techniques.

 

The LINI LATC programme is responding directly to the need to reduce the destruction of Indonesia’s globally important coral reefs. Through this training programme, the students were given an opportunity for work experience in various aspects of marine conservation, reef restoration, aquaculture, and sustainable fishery management.

 

 “LINI was a practical experience for me in marine ornamental fisheries. I was also able to acquire a greater in-depth knowledge about LINI and its activities. The role played by LINI in helping the livelihoods of fishermen in les village is highly admirable” Said Sariga.

 

“This one-month training programme helped me to learn about the possibilities of non-destructive fishing practices in the ornamental fish trade, various marine fisheries conservation activities, community empowerment, marine aquaculture, and the need for sustainable trade practices. I can recommend this program for all research scholars working in the field of fisheries management. This programme will greatly enable you to change your outlook towards the ornamental fish industry and also help you to develop various skills that will help to focus your future research”  said Anju.