Thousands of New Homes for Fish in Buleleng

Six villages in Bali’s north coast are building thousands of artificial structures to grow new coral reefs. Each new reef is a home for fish and other marine animals to find food and raise their young.

Les Village, Tejakula includes two sites for the Indonesia Coral Reef Garden (ICRG) program, which is part of the government’s new social economic recovery (PEN) in the marine sector.

Residents start their day’s work by lining up at the front desk of the LINI Aquaculture Training Center (LATC) LINI staff check the temperature of residents that will work as reef structure builders, giving masks if needed, and checking the attendance list.

The list needs to be signed twice, in the morning and afternoon after lunch.

Residents working on the structures then go to their designated area. Nyoman Surana works in the fishdome production area. A semicircular structure with holes in its surface Each fishdome can be used by little fish as a shelter from predators. The holes are small enough to ensure predators are blocked from entering.

“The construction of this structure is very useful, it’s a fish house, but in the past, the holes were bigger,” Surana said, observing the latest fishdome made by his team. Larger holes, he remembers, allowed scooping nets to enter domes and catch ornamental fish.

Risana has been an ornamental fish catcher since he was a teenager and remembers when fishermen used a bomb or potassium to stun fish to catch them . He recalls using ‘potash’ for about 10 years until he was 25 years old.

After intervention by NGOs and environmental activists in the 1990s, fishermen abandoned destructive fishing practices, switching to using nets and freediving.

Around the time, fishermen also realized the potential of making coral transplant structures like fishdomes. Surana is able to compare as he stopped working as an ornamental fisherman in 2011, turning to construction work and is now involved again in making coral structures.

“Most of those who join are fishermen because they are the ones who take care of them,” he replied about residents involved in ICRG.

Each structure is built by two people, and Surana is supervises the fishdome unit. His daily target is 4 structures, using an iron net that is provided for him to simply patch with cement.

One of the young workers on the site is Made Juli, who has participated in the construction of 25 rotibuaya structures. “It’s not often I participate in making a fish house,” he says.

The construction of structures in Les Village Site 1 is under the coordination of Made Partiana, The leader of Mina Bahari Fishermen Group. He carefully monitors each assignment, counting the result, and coordinating workers. LATC’s whole yard is filled with structures.

As well as the fishdome and rotibuaya structures,, residents have decided to add clownfish-shaped statues, called ‘Nemo’ because of the movie. This fish is one of many that has been successfully cultivated in LATC.

Yunaldi Yahya, the ICRG Program Coordinator in Buleleng, from the LINI Foundation, said residents were enthusiastic to join the program because of the impact of the pandemic, such as the lack of demand for ornamental fish. LINI was also affected by the absence of visiting students, especially from abroad, which provide operational income from accommodation at the LATC. Through Air BnB Experiences, the LATC would typically attract guests for education and conservation programs, as well as eco field trips.

Each structure will be plunged to a depth of at least 10 meters. “If it’s less than that it could be destroyed by the current,” said Yunaldi. The materials have enabled residents to build structures in various shapes, such as earth pegs, fishdome, rotibuaya, and fish statues.

He welcomed every village to be creative whilst following the requirements for each structure to be a maximum height of 1.5 meters and 1 meter wide.

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.