We've been busy lately.
First off, Delphine took about 20 people from Gili Trawangan to Tanjung Luar just so they could see first hand the decimation of sharks and rays. Steve Woods, from the Gili Shark Foundation, took some gruesome photos of the fishery that, when posted on facebook, got over 3 million hits.
The trending in the fishery has been the same over the last few months, fewer sharks and mantas as, from all accounts from the Tajung Luar fishermen, their numbers seem to be locally depleted. However, the 33% boost in the price of petrol in Indonesia has, oddly enough, been an advantage for the regional population of sharks and mantas as now it costs more to go out to get them. The booming squid industry in the Alas Strait continues to be the staple of the market.
The observance of the holy month of Ramadan has also slowed demand on the predominantly Muslim island of Lombok as well. Luckily, the practice of sawn, fasting from dusk to dawn for the 30 days Ramadan, historically has two effects on the fishery:
1. as food consumption drops, so does demand
2. observers of Ramadan tend to plan to be less productive during their observance of sawn
Another significant development, due to the severity of the situation in Tanjung Luar, coupled with dolphins being brought into the market (as seen in previous Project Momentum updates), is that JAAN, the Jakarta Animal Aid Network, has been provoked into focusing some of their resources in order to help our efforts. They’ve been very successful in getting bans on dolphin and turtle fishing in Indonesia. For those of you who don’t know, JAAN recently were key in shutting down roaming dolphin circuses throughout Indonesia. The directors are respected enough to have influence in high places and we are very much looking forward to their know-how and experience as an addition to our ever growing collaborative effort.
The Gili Shark Foundation has also been very instrumental in getting shark education to the masses via events and coverage, and the Shark Guardians recently came to Nusa Lembongan and Gili Trawangan to further educate and emphasize the tragedy that is unfolding with regards to our global shark populations and how it will negatively impact Indonesia’s marine ecosystem.
Probably the most crucial recent discovery is that while checking out lovely manta photos posted from Elie and Nick from Dive Komodo (and MantaWatch), we realized that TWO of the mantas from the Nusa Penida database were positively identified in Komodo. This means our two locations have connectivity.
So why is this so big?
There are a number of reasons, but probably the most important from a conservation viewpoint is that Nusa Penida and Komodo are separated by over 450 kilometers of islands, deep water, and fast currents; Komodo is a national park where mantas are protected and Nusa Penida is in the process of becoming a marine protected area – meanwhile the Tanjung Luar fishery lays DIRECTLY BETWEEN the two locations. One of the mantas even made the journey from Penida to Komodo and back again passing through very hostile waters twice! This discovery and its subsequent reporting will hopefully initiate some much needed conversation between regencies as well as the central government.
With JAAN, Aquatic Alliance, Gili Eco Trust, and Gili Shark Foundation banding together, we think will make a difference!
Already things pouring in for next month, but we need to get AWARE update online.
So, ta for now.