It’s the end of the working day in Desa Pacung village, and dozens of women, young and old, are cleaning the site for building reef structures. Their initiative to pick up plastic waste, such as drink bottles, had male workers following their lead. The area on the coast of Pacung Village was quickly clear of inorganic waste, with workers aided by the presence of several trash cans.
Komang Suarini was already familiar with construction, having previously worked in villa or barn projects. All the women involved were used to work transporting natural graded stone, but their lives had been disrupted by the pandemic. At least 30 women in the village are involved in the project, and explained that their work started at 7 o’clock each morning.
This was the first time some of the women had worked to create structures for underwater coral reefs. Wayan Sumatra explained that her children were sent home after working in a restaurant in Jimbaran, so she now has to work hard to ensure the family is fed.
Gede Kardiana, head of Pacung Village, is involved in the process of construction at a site on the shore, in the shade of coconut palm trees. The cool sea breeze is a welcome contrast to the scorching heat of the sun, despite November typically being the rainy season.
Kardiana said the priority is those residents who are unemployed, such as those who had to return home. Pacung has around 130 residents, and there are few local farm products that support their livelihoods, beside seasonal crops such as corn and nuts, which depend on the rainy season.
There are also three groups of fishermen who catch fish, squid and tuna, but there are local restrictions on fishing and shooting fish. “The plan to develop marine tourism, brown sugar farming, and arak production as well,” said Kardiana. One of the most visited local spots is Pura Ponjok Batu.
Kardiana has only served as the village head since January 2020, after several months as a driver in Bali’s tourist areas of Seminyak and Kuta. The COVID-19 pandemic spurred him onto have a more active role as the village head.
Nyoman Putra, Pacung village’s Field Coordinator, is a Kerta Winangun Community Watch coordinator. He said a recent popular tourist attraction has been macro photography of tiny underwater animals like Fishfrog and Nudibranch.
Other than fishdome, crocodile bread (rotibuaya), and earth peg (pasak bumi/pasak besi) designs, the reef structures being constructed are statues of various marine animals. These designs include manta ray, dolphin, turtle, hammerhead sharks, saw sharks, and clownfish.
Putra said there was a plan to make a series of melasti statues, representing a procession of purification ritual parades at water sources. However, the carpenter expressed concerns about the resources required, and the team in Pacung discussed the concept with local youths, switching to marine animals. The Pacung village marine park will also feature a traditional gapura statue 1.5 metres tall.
The Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Affairs said that the Indonesian Coral Reef Garden (ICRG) project in Bali will use the KPP State budget, sourced from the national economic reconstruction fund of IDR 111.2 billion. The target is to establish a coral garden covering an area of 50 hectares across 4 locations (Nusa Dua, Sanur, Serangan, Pandawa, and Buleleng), involving 11.000 workers.
The plan is for coral transplantation structures to be built according to the habitat and theme of each location. Various methods of transplantation like hexadomes/fishdomes, spiders, and other statues will be used to heighten the coral garden’s beauty.