In September our Sustainable Fisheries team launched a community outreach program in Muncar. This program aims to increase local knowledge and awareness about mobulid ray conservation, the ways that fishermen can reduce bycatch, and sustainable seafood markets. After only two months we have already trained more than 260 people, and this week we launched a new outreach initiative for local women.
Over the past two months our education and outreach initiatives have targeted a variety of audiences. We have held training workshops for local small-scale fishers, conducted campus visits to local schools and universities, and carried out informal one-to-one outreach with people we meet at the fishing port and market. By incorporating a rigorous training evaluation process into our programme, we know that at least 91 percent of participants have increased knowledge about mobuild conservation, bycatch reduction and sustainable seafood markets.
But until now our education and outreach initiatives have overlooked an important component of the local community. Women play a critical role within Muncar’s fishing society, they buy landed catches from fishers, sell to processors and traders, and are educators and decision makers within the household.
This week we launched a new initiative designed specifically for local women. Twice every week we will host community gatherings to present and discuss sustainable fishery issues with local women. Thirty-one women joined the first meeting this week, in which we presented information about the regulatory status of manta, mobula and other species.
“The women were excited to learn new information that is directly relevant to their daily lives. Many did not know which marine wildlife are protected, or what the legal penalties are. They told us they were happy that they can now correctly distinguish protected manta from mobula rays which are not currently protected,” said Amelia Kumala, Sustainable Fisheries Assistant.
Muncar is an important hub within the fisheries sector of Banyuwangi, East Java. Yet education is limited in this region. The local government estimates that in 2013 one-third of children under 14 years old did not go to school, and less than 29 percent of students continue into higher education.
“Some of the local children drop out of school so that they can work to support their families. They perform simple jobs such as cleaning fishing boats or working as a porter to carry catches from the boat to buyers or processors,” explained Ibu Badriah, a local fish trader.
Consequently many people lack basic knowledge, including about the environment and fisheries. Through our women’s outreach programme we aim to increase knowledge and awareness about the fishery regulations, fishing technologies and value-addition opportunities that could help to reduce unwanted mobulid bycatch. With women playing such a connected role within families and the community, we hope that this initiative will have far-reaching impact.
In fact we are already seeing these impacts. We have already received many questions from women who did not attend our first women’s workshop. They have heard about it from their friends and neighbours, and are curious to learn more about fishery regulations and protected species. They also want to share this information with their husbands immediately.
We are excited to see such a positive response to our new initiative, and a step towards more sustainable fishing practices.