18 Apr Empowering Blue Swimming Crab (BSC) Women Fishers in Central Java

CTC has recently conducted a series of leadership training programs with the aim of empowering the blue swimming crab (BSC) women fishers of Gedongmulyo Village in Rembang Regency, Central Java. The activities were designed to equip 19 female participants with the skills and knowledge required to become effective leaders in their respective community while promoting sustainable fishing practices and unlocking their entrepreneurial potential.

The capacity-building program starts from March 7th to March 19th, 2023 with a range of activities. Among these were a three-day introductory course for six district-level trainers in Rembang on BSC ecology, communications, and Business Model Canvas (BMC). Additionally, 19 BSC women fishers participated in the training for the last 10 days, learning about similar topics and taking part in an exciting field trip and group initiation session.

All participants were enthusiastic learners during the communication training session, resulting in a 100% attendance rate. They actively engaged in all activities hosted by the facilitator, taking notes and asking questions. The training program was a success, with the majority of BSC women fishers showing significant improvement in their communication abilities and self-confidence in public speaking. During the BMC sessions, they were able to discuss about small business, such as the production of crispy anchovies, shrimp paste, fish meatballs, and crispy squid, in an organized and articulate manner.

Between sessions, all participants also had the opportunity to meet and learn from Mrs. Suat, a fish cracker producer from the neighbouring Tunggulsari Village. Mrs. Suat has been successfully running her small business for over a decade, and her insights inspired the participants to think outside the box and develop innovative processed food products with creative marketing strategies.

One of the training participants in Gedongmulyo, Tri Asih, shared, “Speaking in public always made me nervous, so I always avoided it. I also had limited knowledge of BSC ecology and fishery, let alone know how to sell our local processed seafood products. However, after completing this training, I feel more confident promoting our BSC commodity to a larger audience.”

The Gedongmulyo Village is bustling with hardworking women fishers who dedicate their times to pick and process BSC, weaving nets, and taking care of their households. Despite their tireless efforts, the average daily income of these women only amounts to IDR 50,000 (USD 3.35), barely enough to make ends meet. However, a few women in the village have taken the initiative to create processed seafood products, hoping to boost their earnings. Unfortunately, they are faced with limited marketing and packaging resources, hindering their products from reaching potential buyers.

The BSC fishery in Gedongmulyo Village is threatened by the use of unsustainable fishing gear known as Cotok (mini trawls), which were introduced by non-local fishers. This has caused a major decline in the quality of the catch, and local fishers are struggling to make ends meet. According to Mr. Jumari, the Head of Layur Hamlet, the average daily catch of BSC has plummeted to a measly 10 kg, compared to the 50 kg caught in previous years. The selling price is also low, ranging from IDR 30,000 to 50,000 (USD 2.00 to 3.35) per kg, which is not enough to sustain households.

The leadership training for BSC women fishers in Gedongmulyo has the potential to be a positive step towards a more sustainable fishing industry. By providing these women with the skills and knowledge to reject unsustainable fishing practices and adhere to regulations regarding crab size, they can make a significant difference in protecting their livelihoods and the environment. In addition, they can also influence their husbands who work as fishermen to adopt sustainable practices.

CTC will continue to provide support for the sustainability of the BSC fishery in Central Java Province by offering capacity-building programs until early 2024. The efforts in Rembang Regency are serving as an example and inspiration for other local government and stakeholders who aim to improve the sustainability of the BSC fishery.

Writers: Yoga Putra and Wienda Ardiyani
Photos: Yoga Putra/CTC, Wienda Ardiyani/CTC, Nadia Qurotha/CTC

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