Fishermen who can barely eke out a living on catching fish in Pramuka island can now earn additional income from transplanting coral reefs. Not only is coral farming profitable for fishermen, it also helps conserve coral reefs and restore marine life. Fishermen, who often used to damage coral reefs by selling them to make a living, can now transplant corals, a process initiated by the Thousand Islands National Marine Park in 2006.
First they create rock piles to encourage the re-establishment of corals, then attach a slice of living coral to a dead one with a mixture of cement and salt. They work in groups, cooperating with coral exporting companies, to sell the corals they transplant as ornaments. Joint ventures between fishermen and private companies must be approved by the park management to stop companies taking advantage of fishermen, said the park management head, Joko Prihatno. “We have to make sure the joint ventures benefit both parties, not only companies,” he said.
Mahmudin is one of the first fishermen who learned how to transplant corals. The 46-year-old man said he was encouraged to rehabilitate degrading corals several years ago. “The condition of corals here was not very good at that time, there were not many fish,” said the head of Pondok Karang, a group of seven fishermen. “Growing corals by transplanting it is three to four times faster than letting corals grow naturally,” said the man, who is currently transplanting 24 coral species.
His success has motivated other fishermen in the island to follow suit. Each fisherman can now sell up to 1,000 pieces of ornamental coral per month, costing between Rp 5,000 to Rp 10,000 each. Most of the coral is exported to the US. Eighty percent of the transplanted coral is sold, while the remaining 20 percent stays in the marine park as part of the conservation program. To restore reefs, fishermen are obliged to transplant as much as 10 percent of the amount sold. Before they start transplanting coral, the fishermen must run their production quota to the park management for approval. Three months after they transplant the corals, they have to submit a report on their harvesting activities.
The park management checks the report before allowing fishermen to harvest their corals. The fishermen then sell the corals to their partner firms. “We have a checklist the fishermen need to complete. If they fail to meet the requirements, we can revoke their certificates,” Joko said. – JP/Desy Nurhayat
Source: The Jakarta Post, August 29, 2009