Larsen SN, Leisher C, Mangubhai S, Muljadi A, Tapilatu RF. 2018. Fisher perceptions of threats and fisheries decline in the heart of the Coral Triangle . Ocean Life 2 : 41-46.
The Coral Triangle contains the most species-diverse coral reefs in the world, and at its center is the Raja Ampat archipelago in West Papua, Indonesia. The marine resources of Raja Ampat are an important source of food and livelihood for thousands of people, but overfishing and destructive fishing practices threaten its coral reefs and fisheries. To better understand the threats, we surveyed the ‘most knowledgeable fishers’ in all 88 of Raja Ampat’s coastal villages (n = 495) in 2003 – 2005. We analyzed the links between declines in fish catch and threats to marine resources as perceived by fishers. Blast fishing, cyanide fishing, and ‘outsiders’ were perceived to be the causes of the fish declines and the greatest ongoing threats to fisheries resources. We also found evidence of inter – generational differences in perceptions on the health of local fisheries. For fishers who had over 15 years of
fishing experience, 77% reported a decrease in fish catch. For fishers who had less than 5 years of experience, only 41% reported a decrease in catch. Education and outreach on illegal fishing practices and the benefits of healthy coral reef ecosystems are likely to be ongoing needs in communities in Raja Ampat.