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

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!

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.”

 

A Big thank you to Fishkeeper Scotland!

A Big thank you to Fishkeeper Scotland!

During the last 4 years, our reef restoration program and capacity building program at the LINI Aquaculture and Training Centre at Les village, have received welcome support from our supporters in the UK, the Independent Aquatic Imports and Maidenhead Aquatics partners. During the last visit in November 2017, we received a one-year supply of water quality test kits, which relieved us from the burden of the high costs of purchasing these test kits from overseas. During the visit, Fishkeeper Scotland came up with the idea of fund raising for our reef restoration efforts, to support us in helping to build more reef structures.

 

This week, we got some more wonderful news that they raised £ 4707.70, exceeding the expectations of the budget we need! This is so fortunate, because our ponds were cracked and damaged as a result of a series of recent earthquakes in neighbouring Lombok island, we urgently needed funding to repair them.

We believe that these collaborative efforts to save the reefs and support reef conservation programs in Indonesia, (from where the industry is sourcing many of the fish for its stores), will go a long way to maintaining the sustainability of the trade.  Cooperation will benefit everyone along the trade chains in the marine ornamental trade, from the fish collectors to the end buyers. We are grateful to receive continuous support from Fishkeeper Scotland, Maidenhead Aquatics and their supporters, the Independent Aquatic Imports in the UK and Bali Double C in Bali. Thank you all once again!

 

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.

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!