Protecting Fish Stocks in the Lesser Sunda Ecoregion

As the world’s largest archipelagic nation, Indonesia harbors unparalleled biodiversity that forms an important part of the country’s natural heritage and is an essential economic resource. Indonesia is home to the world’s most diverse coral reefs and tens of millions of people rely on these reefs and coastal areas as a source of food and income. Fish from the Lesser Sunda Ecoregion is consumed not only by people living there, but also those living in the rest of Indonesia and other parts of Asia, including Hong Kong.

But unsustainable fishing practices threaten to diminish the bounty of Lesser Sunda’s seas: if fish stocks aren’t carefully managed, the seafood that supplies both locals and people like us here in Hong Kong could quickly disappear.

Your monthly donation of HK$300 for two years could help protect 180 meters of coastline in the Coral Triangle from illegal and unsustainable fishing.Donate now.

The Lesser Sunda eco-region stretches from Bali to Timor Leste , linking the Indian and Pacific Oceans and covering an area of more than 45 million hectares. The region supports diverse and highly productive coral reefs that are home to fish stocks that supply seafood not just to its 9.2 million inhabitants but also to other parts of Indonesia and Asia. The Nature Conservancy (TNC) began working in this region of Indonesia in 1995 when it started to support the management of the Komodo National Park and has since initiated projects in the Savu Sea (2009) and Sumbawa (2012). In January 2012, TNC started working with communities in Cempi Bay which borders the southern part of the Dompu and  Sumbawa Regencies. On November 2013 the Cempi Bay Conservation Society, representing around 13 villages in the area, was established to support more environmentally friendly and better management of fish resources as well as mangrove restoration in the bay. Part of TNC’s program in Cempi Bay involves working with the local government and partners to help communities to establish Territorial Use Rights for Fisheries (TURF’s) and assess fish stocks, fishing gear regulation and zoning systems in their areas.  Villagers regularly meet in small groups to discuss and exchange information to map fish stocks and the results are rolled up to the wider Cempi group.  This will help them develop a calendar to map and plan what and when to fish at different times of the year so that fish will remain plentiful. Pak Umar, 83, has been fishing all his life and leads a cooperative of 10 boats. The members split their costs, sell their catch together, share the profits and pool funds to help each other repair equipment, nets and boats. Life is better now with government support but fishers have to go further afield for a good catch.  He’s against destructive fishing methods as they ruin habitat for fish to replenish and grow. Fishers from Hu’u village are out at sea up to three times a week for a stretch of 1-2 days per trip. They leave at dawn as it takes around 5 hours to reach the fishing site. Each boat of this size, manned by two people, can haul 6-7 kilograms of fish at a time and, after expenses, the fishers make around US$750-800 per month. The villagers fish throughout the year, except January to February during the monsoon season. To supplement their incomes, many villagers also raise goats or cows and do some farming. They also harvest and dry seaweed for both food and industrial products. Here two men dry seaweed that will be gathered and collected by a buyer who, in turn, transports and sells the seaweed to processing plants in Surabaya, East Java, where the end product is used in making household products such as soap. With support from the government and local NGOs, the women of Hu’u village established their own women’s cooperative in 2007. Fishing can’t meet all their family’s financial needs so the women have started making and selling local snacks made from fish. Around 20 women are members of the village cooperative.  Their leader Ibu Emi, who also sits on the Cempi Bay Fishers Association, said that the cooperative is in the process of getting the right government certification to market and sell their snacks to supermarkets.
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The Lesser Sunda eco-region stretches from Bali to Timor Leste , linking the Indian and Pacific Oceans and covering an area of more than 45 million hectares. The region supports diverse and highly productive coral reefs that are home to fish stocks that supply seafood not just to its 9.2 million inhabitants but also to other parts of Indonesia and Asia. The Nature Conservancy (TNC) began working in this region of Indonesia in 1995 when it started to support the management of the Komodo National Park and has since initiated projects in the Savu Sea (2009) and Sumbawa (2012).