Eastern Indonesia

(Modified from a report by Yvonne Sadovy and Min Liu, 2004)


From previous work, it is noted that under-estimation of the export volume of the live reef fish food trade (LRFFT) in Indonesia occur. The annual estimated export volume of the LRFF from the Sembilan Islands, by vessel, was about 300 tons, much higher than the official recorded data (i.e. 85 tons). To better understand the exploitation of the marine resources, the Indonesian government needs to monitor the trade in live reef fish. Also, the Indonesian government should consider breaking down the live fish categories reported to species level in the custom declaration system. The government could select specific airports, such as Bali, Makassar or Jakarta as the required one for exports to help better control and regulate exports. It is also possible for the government to contact major LRFF import countries to cross-check Indonesian exports with reported imports.

In Pangkep, the nursery grounds of several important LRFFT species, e.g. Epinephelus lanceolatus and Cheilinus undulatus, are exploited. Juveniles of these species have been targeted intensively by hook-and-line (up to 20-30 boats in the areas) for a long time and have shown a decline in catch. It is important to protect these areas.

The Indonesian government is concerned about destructive fishing (e.g. cyanide and explosives) leading to the death of coral and destroying fish habitat; it does not appear to acknowledge the importance of fish stock management, or recognize the strong signs of over-fishing. For instance, in the Taka Bonerate National Park, cyanide and explosive have been prohibited since 1992 and there is no comprehensive fishery management. The current status of fish stock in the park does not show any improvement over earlier reported reduced levels, probably because the number of fishers (from outside and locally) is not limited by regulation; 11 out of 13 spawning aggregations have shown declines, as have daily catch volumes compared to 5-10 years ago. There is a clear trend that many fishers from other islands in Selayar and other regencies (e.g. Sinjai & Makassar) enter the park for fishing live reef fish and lobster after the stocks of their own areas have been overexploited.

Continued reductions in reef associated fishes and invertebrates pose a long-term threat not only to incomes but also to food security and should be addressed as a priority. Live reef fishes have low prices in Indonesia compared to most other export countries, and are lower in Raja Ampat than in other areas of Indonesia. The high priced species, Cheilinus undulatus and Cromileptes altivelis, once common in Raja Ampat, are rare now. The local fishers now only focus intensively on the second most highly priced species, Plectropomus leopardus, which is also showing catch declines from spawning aggregations compared to 5 years ago. Management of this species needs to be carried out soon in the area.

A total of 39 spawning aggregation were identified in all areas visited during the current survey. In Sinjai, Pangkep, Selayar and Kei Islands, 25 out of 30 spawning aggregations have declined substantially. In Waigeo, Raja Ampat, in which some villages started the LRFFT in 2002 and the scale of the LRFFT is small, the current status of spawning aggregations is also not satisfactory; 5 out of 9 spawning aggregations have shown declines. There are 4 aggregations that fishers have stopped targeting in Selayar due to declines in catch volumes; some fishers are now shifting to lobster fishing. Therefore, protection of these aggregations is recommended.

Management recommendations-

Spawning aggregation management should be part of a long-term plan to help local fishers to manage their marine resources sustainably. The identified spawning aggregations were distributed in different areas; the same species may have different aggregation periods in different areas, and the same area may have different aggregation species in different periods. Therefore, to protect these aggregations it is important to understand regional and local patterns in aggregation formation and in the condition of local fish stocks. Finally, inspection of fishery reports showed that target figures for grouper production appeared to be several times higher than was likely to be viable in the areas visited.

Villages can play a very important role in the conservation of marine resources. Some villages visited have their own regulations due to the villagers' concern about the decline in their local resources. Local fishery officers and NGO's can help fishers in different ways by providing basic biological information, especially associated with spawning aggregations, and teaching fishers how to manage their money and better plan for the future.