Globally, fish stocks are under serious threat … remember when snapper was cheap! And Ekas Bay is no exception. Kerry remembers 20 years ago when fish were abundant in Ekas Bay. Now, the last of the adult breeding stocks are being taken out by locals with spear guns. Yes, people have to feed their families.
There have been many well-natured international and local projects in Indonesia which come into a district and try to impose strong regulations on villagers, hoping they will reduce the fishing. But without daily enforcement, locals simply ignore the rules. It’s not easy to conserve the existing stocks when people need money and food. For example, illegal capture of juvenile lobsters which are exported live to Vietnam for fattening is rampant in all of Lombok’s bays. How much damage is being done?
What’s a more positive approach and how do we increase the number of fish while protecting the adults? How do we engage the community and get them to run their own conservation plans?
So we looked at how people manage their plots on land. First, they run small farms that they lease or own. They manage these farms, prepare the soil, protect them, fertilise and harvest crops when they are ready. This concept works, so why not look for a similar scheme in Ekas Bay?
Our Get a Reef! Project uses the same principles. First, we need to prepare the plot to enhance fish and lobster numbers. This can be done by building an artificial reef which provides habitat andsafety for fish, encourages algal and coral growth for food and provides safe habitat for lobsters to mature in Ekas Bay, rather than being shipped at bargain prices to Vietnam. Then how do we engage the community? … by allocating a single reef to a family. The reef becomes their plot to nuture and maintain. Education about growth and harvesting teaches them the same skills that they have adopted for centuries on the land.
We are very fortunate that our district is all ancient beach … with many old limestone rocks that were the building blocks of ancient reefs. Yes, our cliffs are 50 m above sea level, but the ocean was once this high during periods of global warming. Pause to think about that and our current headaches with global warming and sea level rise.
It’s very easy and inexpensive to quarry these old limestone rocks … and they provide the perfect substrate for new reefs.
So how can you help? Each family reef costs $AUD5,000. Donors can participate in several ways. You can just donate to help, give the funds for a full family reef or come to Planet and become engaged in the construction, education and long-term monitoring of the reef that you have paid for. It’s your choice! The reefs can also provide a wonderful snorkelling or participatory destination for tourists, with the entry fee coming to the family.
We have built 25 small reefs already with help from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS Indonesia(https://indonesia.wcs.org/) and the reefs are doing very well. Please see our Facebook sitehttps://www.facebook.com/ekasreefsanctuaryinlombok/. But these reefs need to be bigger and the “ownership” needs to be discussed and settled with families, including fuller Indonesian government participation. Kerry is pleased to help with this.
Guests and donor organisations are encouraged to consider this project. Please contact Dr Kerry Black, email@example.com, if you want to help. Any donations to the Heaven on the Planet Australian bank account should be described as “Get a Reef!” via Moira on firstname.lastname@example.org.
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