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!
By Gayatri Reksodihardjo-Lilley