Connecting Local Organizations, Safeguarding Wallacean Fisheries

by Karel Yerusa & Arroyan Suwarno

The Wallacea region, spanning the heart of the Indonesian archipelago, is known for its high biodiversity. Encompassing Sulawesi, Maluku, and the Nusa Tenggara Islands, this area is a transitional zone enclosed by deep seas, separated from Asia and Australia.

According to a study by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF), Wallacea is one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots. This wealth should be managed wisely for the sustainability of human life and the creatures within it.

In 2023, the MDPI Foundation, with its extensive experience in small-scale fisheries in Indonesia, works with CEPF-Burung Indonesia as implementer to enhance the capacity of 12 local organizations receiving CEPF grants. Established in 2000, CEPF is a global organization supporting civil society in preserving threatened ecosystems.

Based on CEPF’s funding commitments, this capacity enhancement aims to build knowledge and skills in managing small-scale fisheries to support the achievement of sustainable fisheries in Wallacea. These twelve organizations work closely with small-scale fishermen scattered throughout the Wallacea region.

Read more: Program Biodiversity Hotspot Wallacea CEPF

Fostering multi-organization closeness through technical assistance

Fishery data training by CEPF-Burung Indonesia partners in May 2023.

Our networking with CEPF partners began in Bali. We trained and discussed technical aspects of Fisheries Improvement and Coastal Community Organization with 12 representatives from local organizations.

MDPI shared a variety of knowledge on fish handling, data collection for fish stock management needs, Joint Fisheries Management Committees, strengthening fisherman groups, alternative coastal livelihoods, and financial literacy support for fisherman households.

Getting closer to the Tehoru community

Diskusi teknis e-logbook dengan nelayan, LPPM, dan MDPI di Tehoru
Technical discussion on e-logbook with fishermen, LPPM, and MDPI in Tehoru, Seram, Maluku.

The efforts didn’t stop there. From February 9th to 11th, 2024, two local grantee organizations partnered with CEPF in Maluku (LLPM Maluku and Baileo) were given the opportunity by MDPI to visit and learn through direct observation of MDPI’s work with committees and small-scale tuna fishermen groups in Tehoru District, Central Maluku Regency.

During the four days in the field, they observed and discussed with tuna fishermen and village governments. Discussions revolved around village waste management, tuna fishery data collection and its relation to Fair Trade USA eco-label certificates, management of coastal community tuna product trading, technical data recording on the e-PIT application, FAD registration, and technical registration of small-scale fisherman vessels.

All program approach models implemented by MDPI in Tehoru were based on materials presented during the CEPF partner training in Bali. The tools used are expected to assist CEPF partners in organizing communities towards sustainable fisheries.

During their time in the field, MDPI witnessed the enthusiasm of CEPF partner representatives in gathering technical information to be utilized as new knowledge for them. There were also interesting inputs that need to be considered in the future, such as facilitating Tehoru fishermen to visit CEPF partner villages and share knowledge about fishery data collection through e-PIT for tuna Harvest Strategy.

Read more: The Importance of the Tropical Tuna Harvest Strategy for Indonesian Small-scale Fishers

“From my personal experience, the fishermen group in Tehoru is remarkable. They are very open and happy to share fishery management processes there. The new thing I learned in Tehoru is the E-PIT and e-logbook. LPPM also fills out logbooks but it’s slightly different from what is done in Tehoru. The fishermen’s spirit is truly remarkable,” said Asyura, LPPM staff.

MDPI hopes that this entire mentoring process leaves an interesting impression and positive learning experience for CEPF-Burung Indonesia partners. In the future, we will continue to build fisheries sustainability within the Wallacea region for the future of global and Indonesian seafood.