Penuktukan villagers continue underwater conservation
Weather permitting, the residents of the coastal village of Penuktukan in Tejakula, Buleleng regency, will spend this week placing 40 fish domes in the seas off the village.
The man-made, bowling ball-shaped artificial reef structures are designed to be a place for coral to grow and, in turn, for fish to take shelter and breed.
“We will transport the domes using boats and then lower them to a depth of around nine meters in Taman Segara Penuktukan area,” Taman Segara head, Nyoman Wartawan, said Monday on the sidelines of the fish dome handover ceremony.
At the ceremony, the provincial government handed over 20 fish domes to the local communities. Another batch of 20 fish domes was delivered by the Buleleng regency administration.
Taman Segara Penuktukan is an underwater area currently being developed by the locals as an attractive diving spot, while Taman Segara is a group of local conservationists established in 2008 to protect the coastal and offshore area of Penuktukan.
“We are very grateful for the attention and support the government has extended toward our program here,” Wartawan said.
He pointed out that the community-based conservation program had succeeded in protecting the underwater ecosystem, as well as in bringing an increasing number of tourists to the area.
Wartawan recalled that prior to 2008, the underwater ecosystem around Penuktukan was under grave threat of destruction posed by non-local fishermen using trawl nets, poison and explosives to catch fish. These destructive fishing practices kill both adult and juvenile fish, as well as damage the coral and seabed.
“The local fishermen and villagers then formed Taman Segara to protect the waters around the village.”
This group succeeded in inserting a chapter on conservation into the village’s perarem, a traditional convention. The village’s elders then informed all the neighboring villages about the perarem. “For the Balinese, perarem and awig-awig [customary law] are sacred, that’s why the residents of Penuktukan are very serious about protecting their sea and underwater area,” Penuktukan village head Made Yudi Arisandi said.
Assisted by several environmental NGOs, including Yayasan LINI and Reef Check Foundation, the locals developed the area into a diving destination.
“The underwater area around Penuktukan hosts a rich diversity of corals and marine creatures,” Yayasan LINI’s researcher Yunaldi said.
Bali Maritime and Fishery Agency head, Made Gunaja, praised the environmental initiative launched by Penuktukan villagers.
“A well-managed and protected underwater area in the long term will yield more and bigger fish, which would provide a significant benefit for the local fishermen. It will also attract more tourists,” he said.
Taman Segara is currently working on a plan to provide opportunities to visiting tourists to adopt corals. In the last three years, locals have placed at least ten fish domes in the area designated as an underwater garden. They were happy to see that the structures had managed to attract ornamental fish. Baby corals have also started to grow on the dome surfaces.
The village lies some 45 minutes’ drive west of Tulamben, or around a three-hour drive from Denpasar.