Pemuteran Coral Conservation Project Karang Lestari Pemuteran
In the Pemuteran coral conservation project, hotels, dive shops, village fisher folk, scientists and conservationists united to protect and restore coral reefs and increase fishery resources, both for tourism and the local fishery economy.
The Karang Lestari Project began in June 2000, when Dr. Thomas Goreau and Professor Wolf Hilbertz, working with Yos Amerta and divers from Yos DiveShop, built the first coral nursery in front of Pondok Sari Hotel, Pemuteran.
In October 2002, an international workshop on design and construction of coral nursery was held at the site and three more nurseries were installed in front of the Sea Temple. In April 2001, 19 more coral nurseries were installed in front of Taman Sari hotel with assistance from Archipelago Dive Shop, and another nursery was added in front of Reef Seen Aquatics.
The project uses the Biorock (TM) method to increase coral growth rates, increasing reef fish density by providing fish with a suitable habitat. All of the nursery structures are located in the Pemuteran Coral Reef Protected Area. Corals transplanted onto the structures attract high densities of all type of fish. As a result of the dense swarms of fish in and around the coral nurseries, they have become the major focus of near shore diving and snorkeling. Spinner dolphins, which vacated the bay due to bomb fishing, last year returned to the site, where they are protected.
All corals used in the projects are broken pieces found on nearby reefs where they were damaged by rolling or falling. They would sooner or later die if not rescued and attached to the nursery structures, creating attractive snorkeling and diving trails. This has greatly enhanced marine life in the area.
In May 2002, seven new fish habitats were deployed in fishing grounds east of the protected area. Like the previous ones, these projects were constructed without any program funds, save a single workshop grant and small donations from area businesses, local hotels, dive shops and visitors.
News of the Karang Lestari project1s success has spread rapidly through Bali1s hotels, dive shops and villages, with requests for projects coming frequently. Funding is required for larger scale training to spread the projects. Students from Udayana and Bogor universities, Bali and Java respectively, have begun research programs on the project.
Low technology Mineral Accretion (Biorock TM) methods economies for coastal communities. Steel lattice bases, sub- merged in the sea and charged with a minimal electrical current generates natural limestone rock growth on the base, which increases growth rates of corals and other reef organisms. Corals on the mineral accretion structures, because of their higher growth rate and healthier metabolism, reproduce more quickly and prolifically, because of healthier metabolism. They become key to restocking the surrounding reefs.
The infrastructure for Mineral Accretion coral regeneration is so simple, that it can be replicated with very little skill or training, few materials and direct, alternate, solar or wave-generated electrical current.
As of November 2002, 38 Mineral Accretion coral nurseries spanning 222 meters were operating in the 2.4 hectare Pemuteran Village Protected area along 200 meters of coastline. Annually, these structures consume about 4 kw of electrical power.
A community-based approach to conservation followed tourism-based businesses in Pemuteran. The project has been funded and staffed by voluntary efforts and modest donations.
This project has made it clear that restoring coral growth can bring fish back. Local fishermen see the schools of many kinds of fish attracted to the coral nurseries, as they pass over them en route to their fishing grounds miles off shore. There they spend the day searching for the few fish in a barren wasteland.
The fishermen are eager to see the coral nurseries expanded and fish habitat constructed in areas near their fishing grounds. They protect the projects and keep records of the fish caught in areas nearby as part of an experiment to improve the fisheries. They want fishermen from other areas to know what they are doing and why, and that they could do the same thing in their areas so they wouldn1t have to fish at Pemuteran.
Besides the economic interest of improved subsistence fishing, the local villagers have taken the initiative to start up dolphin watching tours. With coral regeneration and fishing bans in the bay, spinner dolphins have returned in significant numbers. The village also retains rights to all snorkeling income from tourists. Both of these income alternatives, in a traditional fishing community, serve to reinforce their basic understanding that each fish has more value in the sea than in a net or on the end of a fishing line. Alternative income avenues are made available. Thus, they have become avid proponents of conservation and eco-tourism, for economic and environmental benefits.
The nursery structures already attract dense populations of juvenile reef fish, resting fish schools and fish that only shelter in live coral, as well as other marine organisms. Young fish of many species are attracted to thesites to meta- morphosefrom larval stages into juveniles. Snappers use the structured to hide in the daytime, forming schools so dense that it is impossible to see the other side of the structure. Batfish are regular habitants. Damselfish and cleaning fish quickly establish territories.
These unusual underwater stations already are major tourist attractions. The Pemuteran pilot projects, the largest of their kind in the world, exceed the size of all other mineral accretion projects worldwide, combined.
Karang Lestari is the first step to restore as much as possible of Pemuteran1s damaged reefs. More fishery projects are planned along the coast and fishermen are eager to educate colleagues from other areas about the new methods so that they can be applied in other own areas and prevent encroachment upon Pemuteran1s fishing grounds. They are eager to change from hunting fish to farming them, and to secure sustainable fisheries and tourism attractions for future generations.
This only will be possible if the current pilot projects are expanded in scale to major fishing areas, the banks north of Pemuteran and beyond. Funding is sought to train fishermen to build large, solar-powered fish and coral nurseries on the banks as part of a long-term coral reef restoration program. Many locations around Bali already have requested project start-ups.
New research and training programs in coral reef restoration, mari-culture and ocean energy development could be started soon as part of a new Marine Research Center in the Biology and Environmental Sciences departments at Bali1s Udayana University. A potential site for a research laboratory has been identified at Nusa Lembongan island, off Bali1s southeastern coast. Support for these projects has been committed by the Indonesian Dive and Water Sports Federation, the Bali Tourism Association, the Governor of Bali and Indonesian ministries of Culture and Tourism, En- vironment, Marine Affairs and Fisheries.