The island of Kaledupa is one of the four main islands in the Wakatobi Marine National Park on the far south east corner of Sulawesi, Indonesia. The archipelago was designated as a Marine National Park in 1996 due to its outstanding biodiversity and is the second largest Marine Protected Area in Indonesia.
Initial work by the Opwall Trust and Operation Wallacea indicated that there were significant problems of overfishing on the Kaledupa reefs from artisanal techniques. In 2004 a management plan for the Kaledupa fisheries was proposed and in 2005 the Trust funded an initial investigation into whether the concepts set out in the management plan would be effective. This work led to a Darwin Initiative application to establish the Kaledupa reef fisheries as a best practice example of reef management.
The Darwin Initiative funding started in May 2007 and Annual reports have been produced to summarise progress to April 2008, April 2009 and April 2010. The final report was completed in September 2011.
The first step was the introduction of a weekly monitoring programme for all fish landed over a 24 hour period once a week in nine villages around the island. A database has been developed for storage and analysis of the data which have been collected continuously since July 2007. Analysis of these data for the three periods to December 2007, March 2008 and May 2009 show a continuing decline in the fish stocks on the reefs. In addition data have been collected on reef fish abundance by the Operation Wallacea survey teams from an annual dive survey survey of 108 transects around Kaledupa Island. Analysis of the reef survey data from 2002 – 2007 and then from 2002 – 2008 showed a continuing decline in fish abundance.
A Kaledupa Fisheries Forum comprising representatives from all the villages on the island and chaired by the head of Government for the Wakatobi Islands has been formed. Their first meeting in August 2009 was charged with agreeing fishery management byelaws such as limiting the numbers of fish fences, introducing minimum mesh sizes for gill nets and minimum landing sizes for various species. The fisheries data were modelled to identify potential byelaws, and these data were presented so the Forum could make decisions on which were the potentially most effective regulations. The byelaws agreed at the August meeting were then modelled to assess their impact on the fishery.
A database comprising records of 1000+ fishers across the island and their fishing gear has been established. In addition all motorised boats used for fishing have been registered and individual identification codes painted on each of the boats (more than 550 boats). There is no other area of Indonesia where such a detailed census of fishers has been completed and 100% of reef fishing boats registered.
Implementing registration and community enforcement to ensure only registered fishers are utilising the reefs around Kaledupa will reduce the overall fishing pressure on the reefs by excluding fishers from other islands. However, this, along with Forum agreed fishery regulations, is unlikely to be sufficient to reduce fishing pressure to levels where the fish stocks can recover. In order to achieve this, a percentage (to be determined from the results of the fisheries monitoring) of licence holders will be offered small businesses in exchange for surrendering their licences. Thus those that are removed from the fishery will do so voluntarily and only in exchange for businesses that create more income than they would have earned from fishing. Those that remain in the fishery will then have a licence that is worth at least the value of the businesses for those who did exchange their licences. These remaining licence holders will therefore have a significant asset that they will be allowed to trade amongst other islanders or to use as collateral for raising money from the bank.
There are two business opportunities that the Trust is developing with the Wakatobi Government to provide the income needed to ‘buy out’ the surplus fishing licences. First is the development of a plant to process 3000 tonnes per year of the seaweed that is currently being grown in the area but sold at low prices for processing elsewhere. The original concept for the carrageenan plant should have an annual turnover in excess of $6 million as it produces the carrageenan product known as E407a for export to the European Union. Once established the concept would be to offer shares in the factory to fishers who would surrender their fishing licences. The Trust project has completedresearch and developed a carrageenan (the active component of seaweed) extraction process which does not infringe any existing patents. In addition the Wakatobi government has constructed a building that can be used as a factory and has allocated three hectares of land for an investor to develop the business in exchange for free use of the buildings and land . All the elements needed to get this income stream developed are in position. This provides a mechanism to compensate fishers who come out of the Kaledupa reef fishery as well as a way of increasing the sums paid to all seaweed farmers since they would be getting factory gate prices (i.e. with no middlemen costs).
The second business opportunity is the development of ecotourism for the Wakatobi Islands using homestays. This is the approach that Operation Wallacea has used and the technique is very effective at providing income for the local communities. Thus in 2008 approximately 5% of the entire annual Kaledupa economy came from just the two month Operation Wallacea season. The Wakatobi Government has built a 1.7 km runway on the island of Wanci and are subsidising flights to make the Wakatobi Islands more accessible. The government is also investing in the development of the Operation Wallacea site on Hoga into a International Marine Research Centre as the flagship for a developing ecotourism industry.
The development of an aquaculture facility was also investigated but whilst showing considerable possibilities it was decided that the limited funds available would be better concentrated on developing the carrageenan extraction plant.