Coastal livelihoods, small-scale fisheries dependence, and the impacts of fisheries management and conservation regimes in Savu-Raijua district, eastern Indonesia.

Coastal livelihoods, small-scale fisheries dependence, and the impacts of fisheries management and conservation regimes in Savu-Raijua district, eastern Indonesia.

As the world’s largest archipelagic nation, Indonesia‘s marine and coastal resources are vitally important to its economy and food security. In a bid to better manage its marine environments, Indonesia has committed to designating 200,000km2 of marine protected areas (MPAs) by 2020.  The Savu Sea Marine National Park (SSMNP), in Nusa Tenggara Timur Province (NTT) eastern Indonesia, is the largest MPA in Indonesia and also the largest in the Coral Triangle Region, which spans the Asia-Pacific. The success of MPAs in meeting conservation or social goals in low-income settings depends on effective participation of local communities in the establishment and management of MPAs. However, in many parts of the Asia Pacific scholars have raised concerns about participatory processes used by NGO’s and governments when engaging local communities and other stakeholders in MPA implementation.  In the case of the Savu Sea MNP, initial investigation has revealed a discrepancy between documented community engagement activities and those reported by local communities.

Savu-Raijua district is centrally located within the Savu Sea MNP. All seven of the MNP zones are represented in its district waters, and it is the closest populated land mass to the two large no-take zones. Recent data available on coastal livelihoods or dependence on small-scale fisheries from Savu-Raijua is scarce, however the available information indicates that fish are an important source of protein for some of the poorest communities. Additionally, government statistics indicate that that fishing is an important activity in most coastal areas. Fisheries management and conservation initiatives which restrict fishing activities therefore have the potential to impact on local livelihoods.  

This PhD research aims to investigate the potential and actual impacts of fisheries management and conservation actions on small-scale fishers and coastal livelihoods in Savu Raijua district. A mixed-methods approach, utilising both qualitative and quantitative methods, will be used to examine fishing activities and investigate their importance in local livelihood systems. Participatory GIS will be used to identify in spatial terms the major fisheries resource and management related issues experienced by local fishers. Subsequently, fisheries management and conservation arrangements including the SSMNP will be critically examined, focusing on local participation and engagement in their design and management.  This research will make an important contribution to (i) the state of knowledge on small-scale fisheries and coastal livelihoods in Savu-Raijua district, (ii) our understanding of the implications of implementing management strategies which are often based on selective data collection and marginal engagement processes with local stakeholders, and (iii) the ways in which participatory approaches can be used to enhance fisheries management and conservation initiatives.

This project has co-supervision from Charles Darwin University, Australian National University and Universitas Nusa Cendana (UNDANA) in Kupang, Indonesia. It has support from the Sabu-Raijua District Administration and Fisheries Department. It is co-funded by an Endeavour Postgraduate Scholarship and a CDU Australia Postgraduate Award Scholarship.

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Pia Harkness
PhD Student

Primary research group

Natural Resources-Based Livelihoods
Local fishers with their afternoon catch in Sabu's main town, Seba.