WHAT IS AT STAKE: 2.6 BILLION PEOPLE
Currently, over 2.6 billion people on earth rely on fisheries as a primary source of protein and economic income. Moreover, 97% of the world’s fisheries reside in developing countries. It is imperative not only for the conservation of marine species, but also for food security and poverty alleviation that effective management strategies be implemented in coastal areas.
THE PROBLEM: WE WANT THE BIG ONE!
Big fish reproduce at higher rates, but we want the big fish, taking the most important breeders from the population. Marine populations operate on a somewhat simple population principle that a thousand fish at a small age and class size have a much lower net reproductive rate than a 100 fish at a large age and class size. As the industry targets large fish of older age/class sizes (e.g. the “big” catch), humans unequally harvest from marine populations, and, therefore, unevenly effect net reproductive rates.
This causes a waterfall effect which destroys fish populations. As we harvest the largest fish we take away the individuals contributing the most to the reproductive rate. After this population is depleted we generally move onto smaller individuals until we have unequally harvested all viable breeders in the population leaving small fish of little value both economically and biologically.
THE SOLUTION: RESTORING FISHERIES
Fish, crabs, and shrimp are the asset class with the fastest rate of return in the world. Meaning, we just need to give them time. Area and time closures (ATCs or Temporary Marine Reserves/TMRs) is an effective management strategy for communities which relies on marine populations as a primary sustaining resource.
Under this strategy small sections of coastal areas are temporary closed for 6-8 months, allowing for fish stocks to replenish before opening for harvest once again.
Utilizing ecological principles and the fast-rate-of-return of marine populations, our temporary closure system helps communities recognize the value of preserving coastal habitats that are necessary for marine population persistence.
Area and time closures integrate the ecology of fish reproduction into their management strategies producing a resilient system for sustained harvest. When these temporary reserves are opened, local communities experience and explosion in income through harvested stock.
INTEGRATED CONSERVATION: FROM FISH TO BOOKS
True to the Planet Indonesia approach, we do not blindly implement conservation and resource management strategies. But rather, we invest and partner with communities to drive the adoption of these resource management plans. In our target area for our new oceans and coastal management program we will begin working with 200 fishermen through our communal business approach. This system provides benefits for fishermen through trainings, business development, and start-up capital to invest in the economic development of communities. As they seek these benefits, they agree to try out and join this Temporary Marine Reserve management system.
MOVING BEYOND TRADITION
Planet Indonesia has pioneered new innovations in community-based conservation, and this program takes it even a step further. This project focuses in the coastal District of Kubu Raya in West Borneo. This district has the highest rate of illiteracy in Indonesia as the mosaic of rivers, canals, and oceans make it difficult for transportation and access to education. Planet Indonesia in 2017, partnered with another local organization, will provide literacy training (e.g. reading and writing) to the families of all fishermen that agree to join our program. We believe that conservationists and development must move beyond the traditional boundaries of increasing cash flow to alleviate poverty and protecting forests, but also expand into education, health care, and other sectors. The new coastal management program at Planet Indonesia represents our organizations continued commitment to innovative solutions that address the root causes of environmental loss and human poverty.
PROTECTING THE WORLD'S MOST IMPORTANT FORESTS
We plan to implement this conservation compact on 5000 hectares of mangrove forests targeting an initial 200 fishermen. Blue carbon has become a popular term in conservation in recent years as new data has been released about the value of mangrove and coastal forests.
Blue carbon refers to carbon stored in coastal or mangrove forests. This terminology was created to differentiate between traditional carbon storage which is a blanket term referring to carbon stored in terrestrial ecosystems. Mangroves, seagrass, and tidal zones contain 50% of all blue carbon stored beneath the ocean floor.
Hutchison et. al (2013) mapped and modeled global carbon stocks and found that mangrove forests stored more carbon in above and below ground biomass than any other ecosystem in the world. However, the distribution for this storage was not equal across all mangrove forest types. Across 242 study locations in 34 tropical countries Indonesia ranked number one in a total area of 2,986,496 hectares of mangrove forests storing 729,075,000 tons of above ground carbon. The second rank was Brazil at only 227,460,000 tons of above ground carbon.
Therefore, conservationists have now prioritized mangrove forests in Indonesia as they are some of the best carbon sinks in the world. Recent studies have revealed that mangrove forests not only store carbon above ground, but also due to their extensive root system that can reach sometimes 2-3 meters below the surface also have the ability to store carbon below ground. With a rough estimate from previous research in the above ground biomass (note this does not take into account below ground storage), mangroves in West Borneo store about 300 Megagrammes of carbon per hectare (Mg/ha).
For 5000 hectares of forests that we are protecting, this equals 1,500,000,000 kilograms of carbon per hectare(Kg/ha). This is roughly equal to the emissions 316,850 passenger vehicles driven for one year or 168,786,867 gallons of gasoline consumed (data from: EPA Carbon Sequestration Converter).