Celebrating World Oceans Day 2020

Celebrating World Oceans Day 2020

This year we celebrate World Oceans Day with our community partners in North Bali and Banggai Island. Like many millions of other people around the world, the North Bali aquarium fishers, have been severely impacted by the pandemic. Because there have been no orders from the buyers to catch the fish, and almost no international flights coming out of Bali, the fishers are forced to be idle and have no other source of income. 

Fortunately, we have received a number of donations from divers and friends of LINI, which the fishers have chosen to use for buying materials so that they can add more artificial structures to their reef restoration sites. This week we built 25 structures, and these will all be deployed at the reef restoration site near Les village in North Bali. In two or three years’ time, the additional new coral coverage will provide the villagers with healthy fish populations to harvest, and an additional source of income from dive tourism. 

Our community partners in Bone Baru, Banggai Island, are celebrating with a story-telling session for children, telling them traditional stories about the sea. This is also important because it also helps to keep the local culture alive!

LINI founder Gayatri has also been asked to participate as a speaker on the panel of Innovation Through Community Engagement for a Sustainable Ocean, at the United Nations World Oceans Day 2020 virtual event on Monday, June 8th  United Nations World Oceans Day 2020This is a great opportunity for us to share our community-oriented and driven solutions for conserving Indonesia’s coral reefs with a potentially huge global audience! 

Let us hope for the better world, as our understanding and care for the oceans continue to grow!

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our community partners in Les, North Bali, and Banggai island, Sulawesi

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our community partners in Les, North Bali, and Banggai island, Sulawesi

It has been three months since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world, also reaching remote communities in the areas where we work. It has affected our community partners in different ways. Since late March 2020, the marine aquarium fishers in Les village have had less orders, and therefore significantly less income, and there have been almost no international flights coming out of Bali, so no cargo has been shipped anywhere. The fishers are starting to face a hard life, and they are struggling to put food on the table for their families. Working at the Aquaculture Centre with us has helped them a little bit, and friends of LINI have supported the fishers’ families by providing rice, cooking oil, and eggs for them, and milk for the younger children. 

Despite all the uncertainty, we still continue with all aspects of our fieldwork that do not require us to attend or organize any gatherings. We try to practice physical distancing, wearing masks, and maintain a high level of hygiene at the Centre.

The monitoring of the restored reefs has still been conducted every month. During our monitoring this May, we encountered coral bleaching at depths of 5 meters to 20 meters, and bleaching has also been reported on neigbouring reefs along the North coast of Bali.    

Our community partner Yayasan KALI in Banggai, and the fisherfolks in Banggai, continue to restore the habitat of the Banggai cardinalfish (BCF), and regularly conduct monitoring of the BCF populations in Bone Baru. They celebrated Earth Day with the planting of mangrove seedlings, which will increase the area for fish to breed in and protect the coastline from erosion.  While the Bone Baru villagers continue with their conservation work, the Octopus fishers of Popisi village in North Banggai have not been so lucky, as their Octopus fishing activities have stopped almost completely. The Octopus fishers must try and find alternative jobs, such as labours and construction workers, at a time when so very many other poor people are out of work.

We will continue to support these communities as best we can but hope that anyone wanting to give donations to help them will do so. All donations will go directly to the villagers who are working with us on the community- based conservation projects. Thank you again for your interest and support! 

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.