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Lesser Sunda Sustainable Fisheries Initiative
North Atlantic and our Indonesian joint venture company Bali Seafood International are deeply involved in the design and implementation of a large scale sustainable fisheries project in Indonesia. Our Lesser Sunda Sustainable Fisheries Initiative is being developed with the cooperation of several large NGO's as well as the Fisheries Ministry of Indonesia. The goal is to take 6 fisheries in the Lesser Sunda area of Indonesia from stock assessment, through stock rebuilding as necessary, and onto certification. This is a long term project that is designed to provide a sustainable supply of Tuna, Swordfish, Mahi, Snapper, Grouper, and Emperor to our customers.
The country of Indonesia is an archipelago of more then 1000 islands. The islands of the Lesser Sunda region are located in the southeastern corner of the country. Bordered to the North by the Flores and Banda Seas, to the south by the Timor Sea, and to the East by New Guinea, the islands of the Lesser Sunda sit at the convergence of the Pacific and Indian Oceans. The tropical waters of these two great oceans mix in shallow seas studded with coral reefs and mangrove rimmed lagoons forming the perfect estuary for both pelagic and reef dwelling species. Large schools of tuna, mahi and sword migrate seasonally to the area. The region's coral reefs contain a huge variety of species including what are estimated to be healthy populations of Snappers, Jacks and Groupers. The region's volcanic rock islands are heavily vegetated and home to indigenous communities still involved in subsistence agriculture and fishing.
Threats to the Resource
The extreme remoteness of the area and lack of modern infrastructure on its islands have, so far, largely protected the Lesser Sunda's aquatic and terrestrial resources from major development. The region's fisheries are still mostly conducted by individual fisherman hand-lining from small boats. This limited effort approach has protected many species from over harvest. However, in the last decade industrial vessels and collector boats have come to the area to buy whole round fish as a cheap source of protein and fishmeal. Small boat fishermen, eager for a source of hard currency, sell any fish they can catch to these boats. As the buyers are indiscriminate, all the fish that can be caught can be sold including juveniles, breeding stock, and fish caught using gillnets, fish traps, and other unsustainable fishing methods.
North Atlantic, Inc. became interested in the Lesser Sunda when we recognized the region's fisheries as a potentially healthy resource. As the area currently has virtually no shore side handling capabilities, a plan has been developed which involves setting up fish buying stations ( "mini plants") at strategic locations. These landing stations will provide ice to the fishermen, and will pack the catch for safe shipment to Benoa via ferry and truck links. Our plan secures North Atlantic a regular supply of high quality fish and provides a way for the region's local fishermen to get a premium price for fish they catch and handle in a proper manner.
Keys to Success
Using economic levers to achieve sustainability goals is currently at the forefront of sustainability discussions. By providing a higher price, the plan provides a direct economic incentive to local fishermen to sell their fish to the new buying stations. However, for the initiative to be successfully sustainable, several key controls will also need to be in place:
Measurement and Traceability
Another key aspect of the initiative is the assessment and management of the fisheries of the region. Fisheries data collection in the region is hampered by the area size, remoteness and lack of infrastructure. As part of the initiative, companies sourcing from the area will be required to carefully document their whole fish purchases. Landing data will be compiled on web-based data collection software and evaluated remotely by scientists and research organizations. This data will also serve as traceable documentation authenticating the origins of the catch. Other surveys of the regions ecosystems, fish stocks and pelagic communities are also planned.
The Lesser Sunda Initiative is a term project that is designed to provide a sustainable supply of Tuna, Swordfish, Mahi, Snapper, Grouper, and Emperor while helping to the protect the ecology, economy, and cultural resources of the region. A shorter term goal is to take the fisheries of the six above mentioned species from stock assessment, through stock rebuilding as necessary, and onto various certification schemes.