2018 – What we have achieved in working with coastal communities at our field sites?

The year 2018 is nearly at an end. Looking back at the last three months, we have been busy at our field sites, North Bali, Banggai Island (Central Sulawesi), and the Banda Islands (Central Moluccas).

The North Bali project continues to add more artificial reef structures onto the house reefs of the LINI Aquaculture and Training Centre (LATC). This year we deployed over 200 structures (fish domes and rotibuaya). These artificial structures have created new habitats for reef fish, and provide hard substrates on which new soft and hard coral larvae can settle, attach, and grow. Over 60 Indonesian and International high school students, 10 University students from the US, Australia and UK, and 12 Airbnb volunteers participated in the making of these artificial structures.

Through collaboration with the coastal community of Tejakula sub-District and the CORAL Alliance, the LINI team will start the community monitoring of the artificial structures in January 2019. The reef restoration monitoring will include coral recruitment, growth of the corals, and fish diversity. Indonesian students are invited to further study the marine environment by participating in this monitoring. 

We have been doing some interesting community-based work on the octopus fisheries in the Banggai Islands, Central Sulawesi, supported by the Blue Ventures —with some notable achievements, particularly in establishing a Foundation for community-based fishery management, and collecting the data needed to support management decisions. In early October 2018, two villages (Popisi and Paisumosini) in North Banggai sub-District, jointly agreed to temporarily close a 385 ha octopus fishing area of reefs around Asasal Island for three months. The purpose of the temporary closure is to increase the numbers and weights of the octopus caught during the rest of the year.

This November, together with the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), MMAF, the Fisheries office of Banggai Laut District, and the Banggai community, we conducted population monitoring of the endangered endemic Banggai cardinalfish at 16 sites. Seven sites showed declines in Banggai cardinalfish populations. Further studies are needed to find out more about the causes of these population decreases.

Our work in the Banda Islands with the Banda tuna handline fishermen progresses well, with port sampling landing data continuing to be conducted to support the development of a harvest strategy for yellowfin tuna in the Archipelagic waters of the Western Pacific. In August this year, we installed 5 time-lapse cameras on five boats to capture the fishing activities of the handline fishers. One of the purposes of using these cameras is to understand the impact of the tuna handline fishery on endangered, threatened and protected species such as sea turtles, dolphins and seabirds while fishing for tuna. The work remains exciting as we continue to assist the fishery to be ready for full assessment for MSC certification next year.

This year we are securing a new partnership with the Coral Alliance for our community reef restoration project in North Bali, and we will receive new funding from the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund to support our work on the development of community-based conservation and management of coastal resources around Banggai Island in Sulawesi.

We wish you all the very best for the New Year!