Focus Group Discussion: Alternative fisheries and livelihood possibilities in Lamakera, NTT

14 Mar 2017
Indah Rufiati

MDPI has recently completed an assessment in Lamakera, NTT. The aim was to investigate the potential for improving fishing practices and providing opportunities for livelihood diversification in the area, with a specific look at potential improvements in tuna.  The region has unfortunately been tarnished with reports of destructive fishing practices such as tuna bombing and manta ray hunting. As part of this assessment, MDPI conducted a Focus Group Discussion with local stakeholders, to get their input on the existing challenges and potential opportunities in the Lamakera supply chain and fisheries activities, with a special emphasis on moving towards sustainable options and away from current and past unsustainable activities.

The twelve attendees represented fishermen, head of villages, suppliers, processors and staff of the DKP (Marine and Fisheries Ministry). The session started with MDPI giving presentations on tuna handling and an introduction to Fair Trade certification, with examples from the Fair Trade certified tuna fishery in Maluku. The discussion also covered information such as predominant vessel and gear types, the fishing season for target species, fishing grounds, catch estimates, supply chain community mapping, and economic costs related to each fishery. The meeting was wrapped up with the presenting of summarized results from the discussion and an outline on what the stakeholders think could be promising steps to improve Lamakera fisheries.

Some interesting findings are:

  • Fishermen do note that they are now catching much less compared to the years when destructive fishing practices were the norm. Destructive practices have decreased since 2012, due to increased government/police enforcement, higher awareness for fisher safety, and the unwillingness of industry to buy tuna caught using such practices (specifically bombing).
  • The tuna supply chain in Lamakera is relatively open and dynamic, with fishermen displaying a strong independent nature.
  • Fish handling at the lower nodes of the supply chain is not maximized: there is no treatment of icing or removal of gills and guts, which are basic procedures in fish handling especially for large fishes like tuna. This shows big potential to improve quality and price by improved handling.
  • Lamakera fishers are very opportunistic, using multiple gears and targeting multiple species. They catch what they find according to seasons. This adaptability opens up possibilities of developing alternative fisheries such as demersal and pelagic, including skipjack tuna.

These fishermen are willing to collaborate to develop a fishery that is sustainable ecologically and economically. They are particularly interested in improving the handling and therefore quality of the tuna, seeing this as a better alternative than the short term benefits of fishing using destructive fishing methods. MDPI has conducted this work under contract from the Wildlife Conservation Society, to whom reports including recommendations have been submitted. WCS hopes to implement the recommendations in partnership with Misool Baseftin to support sustainable development of fisheries in Lamakera.

Writer: Audilia Sanjaya