Catch of the Week
Exploring the Unforgettable “Forgotten” Islands of the Sunda Banda Seascape

Exploring the Unforgettable “Forgotten” Islands of the Sunda Banda Seascape

Catch of the Week

WWF-Indonesia and partners are striving to ensure the oceans and coasts of the Sunda Banda Seascape Region remain vibrant and healthy, providing food and livelihoods for future generations.

Healthy coral reef ecosystem of forgotten islands supports large schools of ‘food fish’ for local communities. (Photo by: WWF-Indonesia)

Healthy coral reef ecosystem of forgotten islands supports large schools of ‘food fish’ for local communities. (Photo by: WWF-Indonesia)

The Coral Triangle region hosts the world’s highest marine biodiversity, with approximately 120 million coastal people depending on its waters as their main source of protein and/or livelihoods.

Within the center of the Coral Triangle lies the unique Sunda Banda Seascape, a global conservation priority spanning a large area from Bali to Tanimbar and from Ambon down to Kupang.

Unfortunately, the Sunda Banda Seascape Region and its rich marine biodiversity, so critical to the economies, food security, and livelihoods of the Coral Triangle, are under threat from climate change, over-fishing, pollution, and other pressures related to unsustainable development.

In an increasingly uncertain living environment, communities face difficult choices between exploiting their natural environment for short-term personal needs and protecting it for their, and society’s, long-term, broader needs.

WWF-Indonesia and partners are striving to ensure the oceans and coasts of the Sunda Banda Seascape Region remain vibrant and healthy, providing food and livelihoods for future generations. To achieve this goal, baseline information of the area is critically needed, especially from areas where ecological and social data are limited/not available, to support better marine and fisheries management. We were excited to join the SMY Ondina’s exploratory cruise from Maumere to Tanimbar to observe and learn more about the nearshore habitat and fish communities as well as fisheries condition in the area.

The 12-day expedition (from 30 September to 11 October 2014) was participated by 6 people, i.e. Khaifin “Iping”, Taufik “Opik” Abdillah (WWF-Indonesia), Stuart Campbell, Fakhrizal “Ubun” Setiawan, Sukmaraharja “Sukma” Aulia Rachman Tarigan (WCS) and Nils Krueck. The team collected data on habitat, fish communities and fisheries in 27 sites, which part of it is known as “forgotten islands” – islands where ecological/social data are limited/not available.

More than half of the islands from Maumere to Tanimbar are yet untouchable or unaffected by human activities, especially from Wetar Island to Tanimbar due to the limited access. The coral reef are still in a good condition that scattered reaching to 40m. of depth, however, the remaining of destructive fishing are spotted around the area. Several times team encountered schooling fish with more than hundred individuals stating a healthy fisheries condition. Moreover, from the underwater data collection and fishermen’s information, expedition team located Spawning Aggregation Sites (SPAGs) of grouper. Accroding to the fishermen, from August to November fishermen caught 3 to 4 tons of grouper in just two weeks in this area. Furthermore, while sailing, the team also recorded a total of 101 fishing boats (76 boats with machine and 25 canoes without machine) and most of them used handline to catch the fish.

SBS owns high marine biodiversity that is critical for supporting community’s economy. Nevertheless, resource exploitation needs to be regulated and supported by raising community awareness on the important of sustainable use for today’s and future generation. Despite we dove in “forgotten islands”, this expedition leaved loads of unforgetable moments from diving in unbeliveably beautiful scenes in the Sunda Banda Seascape. — By Amkieltiela

(Story and photo courtesy of WWF-Indonesia)

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