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 firstname.lastname@example.org. It will enrich you with a unique conservation experience, and you will also have fun when working with the local communities in Banggai!