Re-stocking Cultured Clownfish into Reef Restoration Areas

Earlier this year, we started our exciting work with a trial of re-stocking the local reef with cultured clownfish from our breeding Centre in Les village, North Bali. We started our breeding of marine aquarium species in 2015 as part of our effort to offer new skills to marine aquarium fishers who we have been working with us since 2010. We targeted fisher families, and particularly women, to be trained in the breeding of marine reef fish targeted for the aquarium trade. Once the women from Les village were trained they have continued to work at the Centre, looking after all aspects of the fish breeding activities, and  they have now bred several species of clownfish and the endangered species listed by IUCN red list – Banggai Cardinalfish. 

We chose to place our Training Centre for marine conservation and aquaculture in Les village, because the area has long been one of the main producers of marine aquarium fish in Bali. The reefs in Les village are one of the main collection sites for the members of the Mina Lestari marine aquarium fishers’ group. We have been working together with this group to restore the coral reefs there since 2010. Re-stocking cultured clownfish onto the reef was the next step that the fishers’ group proposed to try as an experiment. Populations of clownfish have been long gone from the reefs in Les village, mainly because this group of fish has been highly targeted for capture and sale to the marine aquarium trade. Therefore, this trial to re-stock the reefs with cultured fish is very exciting, particularly as the fishers have been actively involved in its planning and implementation from the start.

We selected five clownfish (Amphiprion ocellaris) and a single anemone for the trial. The anemone was placed on one of the artificial reefs. To prevent the anemone from crawling away, and the cultured fish being eaten by predators, the fishers placed a chicken cage over the artificial reef structure to protect the fish and the anemone. At the time of the last monitoring, after 10 days of installation,  it was clear that all of the clown fish have survived, and the anemone is getting bigger and is still inside the chicken cage. The plan is to conduct monthly monitoring to see if these good results will be maintained. 

We have been very happy with the progress of the Centre, where fisher families continue to earn money from working in aquaculture to supplement their livelihoods. We have been particularly gratified to see that the marine aquarium fishers’ group remains keen to actively participate in conserving the reefs that they all depend on, and that the group members are enthusiastically taking part in reef studies, including re-stocking the reefs with cultured fish.

By Gayatri Reksodihardjo-Lilley