The community in Popisi village, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia, took a bold step towards sustainable management of their octopus fishery by deciding to close a highly productive fishing site for three months. This is the first time the temporary fishery closure approach has been used by a community in the Banggai Laut regency.
Blue Ventures works together with the community-based organisation LINI (Yayasan Alam Indonesia Lestari) to encourage and support locally led conservation and fisheries management in Indonesia, and the Popisi community has been collaborating with LINI since October 2016 to trial community-led management of their octopus fishery.
LINI has been building relationships with the community and training and supporting data collectors from the village to collect comprehensive data on octopus catches. These data have contributed to community discussions to determine how the octopus fishery should be managed so that it does not become overfished. After 12 months of data collection, the community decided to temporarily close a fishing site adjacent to Asasal Island – a high-yielding fishing area.
The community also formed a monitoring and surveillance group, which was in charge of ensuring that no one fished in the area during the closure period. This fishing area actually belongs to the neighbouring village of Paisumosoni, so LINI facilitated consultations between the two communities and the Paisumosoni village government to ensure that everyone supported the planned management activities.
This temporary octopus fishery closure off Asasal Island took place between 7th October 2018 and 15th January 2019. After this three-month period, the Popisi community held a celebratory ceremony to re-open the site. Around 200 community members and village government representatives from five other villages in the region were also invited to the celebrations, in recognition of their involvement in respecting the closure. The closed area was officially opened by representatives from the Fisheries Department before the fishers of Popisi launched their boats.
Despite the subsequent catch rates differing little from those recorded before the closure, most of the fishers from Popisi were positive about the process, recognising it as part of a broader-scale journey towards managing their fisheries sustainably and protecting their local marine environments. On reflection, many fishers noted that the monitoring and surveillance of the closed area might need to be improved in future, to ensure that no fishing takes place during the closure period.
An unanticipated but remarkable effect of the joint efforts of LINI and Popisi’s community is the interest they have sparked in five neighboring villages. Having seen for themselves the inclusive, evidence-based approach to fisheries management that LINI supports, those villages are now planning to use similar approaches.
The results of the efforts of LINI and the community of Popisi offer great promise. Not only has this process launched the community of Popisi on a journey of locally led management of the marine environment with which their lives are so closely linked; it has also inspired other communities to follow suit!
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