Project news

Empowering fishers to become researchers

By Hollie Booth, 21st November 2023

We are now in the final year of our SOSF research-to-action project – ‘Solutions for Shark Fisheries in a Surfer’s Paradise’ – and are working to develop capacity and institutions so that our compensate-to-release scheme for Critically Endangered species can continue in the long-term.

As well as securing sources of sustainable finance, long-term success requires that fishers and local leaders feel engaged, empowered, motivated, and proud of their marine conservation achievements. In addition, following the successful live release of over 800 Critically Endangered wedgefish and hammerhead sharks because of our project, a key question remains regarding post-release survivability. Do all these released individuals go on to survive, or do some of them die due to stress and injury? Answering this question is critical for accurately quantifying the effectiveness of our compensate-to-release scheme.

To foster long-term community engagement as well as answering this important research question, we have been working on establishing a group of fisher researchers.

In August 2023 – on Indonesian Independence Day – we held a Perayaan Lautan untuk Hari Kemerdekaan (Ocean Celebration for Independence Day) in Aceh Jaya. During this celebration we shared results of our project so far, commended the achievements of participating fishers (with certificates and rewards), agreed on next steps and trained a select group of fishers in shark research and tagging methods.

The workshop and training were conducted in collaboration with IPB University, the UK Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS), and the Fisheries Department, Panglima Laot and Regency Government of Aceh Jaya. Through a train-the-trainers approach, the workshop also provided an opportunity to offer training in tagging techniques for other early career researchers from local NGOs and government bodies, with additional attendees from Elasmobranch Project Indonesia, Impact Blue Sea Foundation, Mobula Project Indonesia, the National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN), and the Ministry of Marine Affairs (KKP).

We were also very lucky to be joined by the Bupati of Aceh Jaya Regency –  Dr. Nurdin, S.Sos., M.Si. (equivalent to the Mayor) who participated in our celebration and training, and commended the efforts of the participating fishers.

Since the training took place, our fisher researchers have tagged and released 10 wedgefish with conventional tags, which will enable us to begin a long-term mark-recapture study to understand survivability, movement patterns and habitat use, and growth rates of the important population of Critically Endangered rays.


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