29 Sep Research and Monitoring in the Banda Islands MPAs
First Person Account by CTC Conservation Advisor Marthen Welly
Today, I’m working back at the CTC office in Bali after I spent a month in the Banda Islands, Maluku. The purpose of the trip to Banda Islands was to conduct my research for my masters degree on “Management Effectiveness of Ay and Rhun Islands MPA on Coral Reef Ecosystem of the Banda Islands from Ecological and Socio-Economic Approach”. The research parallels the annual Reef Health Monitoring (RHM) and Resource Use Monitoring (RUM) activities in the Banda Islands by the CTC.
In-line with the research and monitoring, my colleague from the Faculty of Fisheries and Marine Science, Bogor Agriculture University (IPB) was conducting masters degree research as well on the topic “Planning Development on Ay and Rhun Islands MPA of the Banda Islands”. The planning included conservation target determination, zoning system development, institutional assessment, and determination of priority strategic-plan.
We were based in Ay Island. Although there is no fresh water on this island, we were based here due to its location between Neira (the sub-district capital) and Run Island. The local community in Ay Island use rain and sea water for showering and other household needs. For drinking water, the local community transport fresh water from Neira Island (about 40 minutes by boat) with price IDR 5K per 10 liters of water. There is no internet signal on this island, but there is one spot on the beach, close to the harbor, where we can receive and send text by SMS. If we want to have internet access, we need to go to Neira Island. There is limited electricity as well with no electricity during the daytime, it is only available from 7 pm – 10 pm. We need to carefully manage how we charge our equipment and batteries for laptops, cellphones, and cameras.
On the first week, we did preparation and coordination with key stakeholders in Ambon and the Banda Islands including Maluku Provincial Government, Head of Banda Islands sub-district, Head of Ay and Run villages, enumerators recruitment and training, as well as prepare all materials, equipment, basecamp, logistic and transportation needed. In the second and third week, CTC’s scientific team from Bali and Ambon came to Banda Islands. We started to collect the biophysics and socio-economic data. The biophysics data was collected at nine observation sites, where data was gathered on live coral cover, coral mortality index, reef fish abundance and biomass, sea water temperature, salinity, visibility, current direction and velocity. In the villages, the enumerators started to measure length and weight of reef fishes that were caught by fishermen within the Ay and Rhun Islands MPA. There were 17 and 14 fishermen at Ay and Rhun Islands respectively, who agreed to take part in the activity for three months from September – November. We also facilitated six focus group discussions (FGD) to develop the draft of the zoning system.
In the last week, all data needed was collected except for the length and weight of reef fishes from fishermen that needed to be continued by enumerators until November. The purpose of the fish data collection is to see the productivity of the coral reefs in the area as reflected in fish size. This data will be compared with fish biomass data collected during underwater surveys to see whether there is over-fishing within the MPA.
Now, we are working to analyze the data that we collected and will develop our thesis based on the analysis and interpretations of our results. The output and recommendation expected from the research is improvement in the Ay and Run Islands MPA management effectiveness, economic valuation on coral reef ecosystems, draft of zoning system, recommendation on institutional structure and priority strategic-plan of Ay and Run Islands MPA.