One of our first accomplishments was the establishment of a marine conservation (no fishing) zone, approved by local government leaders, including the head of Tianyar village. Fishing on any reef can be damaging but here the negative effects can be seen clearly as the most damaged parts of the reef align with the most popular fishing areas. Physical damage to coral can be inflicted by discarded fishing equipment, damage from fishing hooks and anchoring of fishing boats. Additionally, the removal of individuals at any trophic level can have ecological cascade effects throughout the ecosystem, causing instability at all levels. Without these physical and ecological stresses the coral can restore and fish populations can recover to a sustainable level. To maintain this no fishing zone, we work alongside a group of 16 local fishermen and leaders within the community who manage the other fishermen in the village. This group is known as “Yowana Bhakti Segara” which translates to youth who protect their ocean. They were keen to learn the values of marine conservation and now understand the importance of sustainability and protecting the coral reef. Now, they patrol the marine conservation zone, ensuring all fishermen obey the rules to protect the reef.
We regularly employ members of the YBS fishermen team to help us construct and deploy these structures. This has created sustainable jobs within the local community and also provides fishermen with alternative incomes that would have otherwise been generated from extracting resources from the sea.
Alongside our marine conservation education, we organise weekly beach cleans along the Tianyar beach with students from Yayasan Widya Sari. As well as the obvious benefit to marine life, this reinforces what they learned about plastic pollution and also makes them consider their actions before throwing plastic away.
At the beginning of the project our focus was on marine conservation education and tackling the problem of plastic pollution. It was important to us to get the local people involved in the conservation of their reef. We have since been working with 350 children from two local schools, groups of fishermen as well as other villagers about the importance of marine conservation and the problems associated with discarded plastic.