Komodo National Park Conservation



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The goals for the Komodo National Park are to protect its biodiversity (particularly the Komodo dragon) and the breeding stocks of commercial fishes for replenishment of surrounding fishing grounds. The main challenge is to reduce both threats to the terrestrial and coastal marine resources and while avoiding conflicts between stakeholders.

A comprehensive 25 year management plan completed in 2000 provides the basis for adaptive management to regulate all uses in the park and address threats while maximizing benefits for local communities in a sustainable way.

To learn more about what steps are being taken to conserve the Komodo National Park click on one of the following topics.

Park Financing

At present, basic funding for the Park is provided through the Government of Indonesia. These funds, however, are insufficient to meet all the management needs for the Park. Revenues from the Park are not fed back to Park management resulting in limited incentive to increase infrastructure needed to attract a greater number of eco-tourists. If park revenue was funneled back into the Park, tourists would supply much needed revenue to the area. Komodo National Park has been selected by the Ministry of Finance as a pilot site to test new Park financing mechanisms and privatization of tourism management.

The Komodo National Park management will conduct an assessment of options for restructuring tourist gate fees and reforming the gate fee distribution system within PKA, so that a significant portion of these fees can be channeled directly to Park management support. Following this assessment, the Park will work with partners to implement the gate fee reform as a way to fund future conservation activities in the Park.

The most likely form of financial management system may be a Concession for Tourism Management. The Tourism Concession will be responsible for financial management, investments in Park infrastructure and marketing. It will require an initial outside infusion of funds (possibly from the Global Environmental Fund) to make the necessary Park improvements to justify later increases in user fees. After several years, the Park should be financially self-sustaining. The Tourism Concession will collect user fees and distribute the funds to the Park management.

If successful, the concession could lay the foundation for expanding management activities to include additional aspects of Park management such as enforcement and sustainable community development projects. Economic success in the tourism sector will depend heavily on the maintenance of environmental quality. To sustain projected increases in tourism, any development must be compatible with the environmental surroundings.

Enforcement

To be successful the enforcement of regulations in and around Komodo National Park must be a cross-sector effort, involving Park authorities, police, fisheries services, the army, the navy, legislative bodies and local communities. Currently, The Nature Conservancy employs an enforcement coordinator who organizes patrols of the Park. These patrols include representatives of local park rangers, the navy, and the police. With the aid of a speedboat, the patrols go out once a week for a two day period and cover the full area of the Park. Terrestrial patrols are implemented on foot.

Since the inception of patrols in 1995, blast fishing has declined by more than 80%. But considerable further protection is needed. The demersal fish stocks and coral reefs, already damaged, continue to be threatened by a variety of destructive methods, including the use of ‘hookah’ compressors, reef gleaning , fish traps , gillnets, and bottom hook and lines.

At present the most pressing issue is the development of a floating ranger station. This station would be a larger wooden boat with the capability for over-night stay. Such a device would allow patrollers to anchor in vulnerable sites overnight enabling them to maintain a more effective patrol. Patrollers also need adequate equipment (including communication methods, security devices [handcuffs, guns], and transport, etc.).

In the future we hope to increasingly involve local communities in the enforcement network as they are the most efficient eyes and ears of the enforcement team. Moreover, immediate steps need to be taken on land to prevent further degradation of the mangrove habitat and to halt poaching (something similar to the patrol system for the marine sector).

Alternative Livelihoods

PELAGIC FISHERIES
Whereas the coral reefs in and around Komodo National Park are threatened by destructive fishing practices and over exploitation, the open waters around the park still offer an opportunity to develop a sustainable fishery of pelagic fish species. The pelagic fisheries project aims to result in income levels competitive to other non-destructive small-scale fisheries in coastal areas. It also hopes to serve as a vehicle for carriers of the conservation message in awareness and constituency building programs.

Presently, the pelagic fisheries in and around Komodo National Park are focused on Loliginidae or squid (cumi cumi), which are caught by floating lift nets (bagan perahu). This fishery also yields anchovies (Engraulidae, mainly Stolephorus spp.) and small clupeids (Clupeidae, mainly Sprateloides spp.). The continuation and protection of this traditional lift net fishery is essential as the major economic alternative for local fishing communities.

A variety of pelagic fish species, with high prices on remote markets, are promising for development. These include Spanish mackerel, yellowfin tuna and skipjack. Smaller species, such as anchovies (teri), sardines (lemuru, tembang), sprats, Indian mackerels (kembung) and scads (layang, selar), may become important either for direct consumption or as feed source for aquaculture enterprises.

To enhance the productivity of the area Fish Aggregating Devices (FAD), rafts anchored in the deep water (1000-2000m depth) that attract pelagic fish from the surrounding areas, were installed. However, diversification of fishing methods, gear types (such as artificial and natural trolling lines) and target species is also necessary. Efficient infrastructure for preservation, transport and post-harvest processing needs to be developed in the area outside the Park. In addition, both fishermen and consumers need to be educated on the importance of maintaining product quality.

At present the pelagic fisheries development program together with local fish traders, fishermen and expert contractors, is working to enhance the establishment of the fisheries, and improve post harvest practices, fish processing techniques and marketing of large pelagic fish. The program includes a training program for fishermen where participants and their moneylenders (local traders) sign an agreement to refrain from destructive fishing practices in the future. Fishermen from different areas in Indonesia have been hired to teach a variety of skills.

The training program for fishing’s post-harvest component covers a variety of techniques from fish handling on the boats to fish processing on shore. Although a large portion of the catch is destined for sale as a fresh chilled product, there is also considerable potential for the production of other products. The program has been training local fishing communities, including many women, to prepare these products. Post-harvest techniques that have been included in the training program include: pengasinan (dried salted fish), pindang (salt boiled fish), ikan kayu (katsuobushi), dendeng (spiced dried fish), and ikan abon (a fish-based product that is used as a spice). A variety of basic processing tools were supplied. By introducing these ‘new’ high-quality products, fishing communities have a better chance of increasing their income through pelagic fisheries

MARICULTURE

Though local communities mostly use the waters in the Komodo area as a fishing ground, the area also offers excellent opportunity for the culture of valuable aquatic organisms, such as seaweed and fish. Presently, PKA and TNC are implementing a fish culture project in the Komodo area. The project aims to establish an enterprise that supplies the life reef fish trade with live grouper and other commercially important fish species. The purpose of the project is two fold. Firstly, the fish culture enterprise offers an alternative livelihood for fisherman in and around the park. Secondly, the development of full circle aquaculture of high quality food fish will provide an alternative to wild capture with cyanide for the live reef fish trade. This move will contribute to the market transformation of the live reef fish trade from unsustainable capture base to sustainable culture based.

Mariculture requires a great deal of technical training, especially when including reproduction and rearing of larvae. The expertise for on-farm reproduction of marine animals is presently not available in the Park area, except perhaps at a single pearl oyster company, which is operating near Labuan Bajo.

Local hatcheries outside the Park can supply fingerlings for grow-out to community-based grow-out enterprises, which are low-tech and low-investment activities and are therefore ideal alternative livelihoods for local communities (which, for the most part, already have the experience of raising wild-caught fish in sea cages). The hatcheries themselves are moderate- to high-tech and relatively high investment activities. A few good examples need to be established, but more investment is needed before this practice can take off on a larger scale. In the long term a considerable part of the market could be supplied with high quality food fish from full-circle aquaculture. The Komodo area is ideal for grow-out in terms of production costs, environmental factors and space. A thriving mariculture industry will increase the standard of living for the villagers in the vicinity in a sustainable manner.

The program should focus on sea-bass (Lates calcarifer) to start, a highly prized food fish for which economic feasibility of aquaculture has already been proven throughout south-east Asia and Australia. The program will also work with several species of grouper, such as the estuary grouper and the tiger grouper, which are successfully cultured in Taiwan and in a few other countries. Try-outs will also be done with mouse grouper, which is the most highly prized grouper in the live reef fish trade, and which has been successfully reproduced and raised by the Gondol Research Center for Coastal Fisheries in Bali. All the above species occur naturally in the Komodo area and brood-stock has already been secured. With the expertise and practical experience of partners, the hatchery should be well managed and show the feasibility of fingerling production for one or more species within three years. The hatchery will also serve as a training ground for local staff.

Grow-out of fingerlings in the Komodo area are expected to be much cheaper than in many other areas due to ideal environmental circumstances, low cost of labor, and the large and cheap supply of small clupeid fishes which are ideal as feed for the cultured species. A pilot survey was conducted in areas surrounding Komodo National Parks by mariculture experts in November 1996. The pilot study revealed that the area is extremely suitable for mariculture development. Constraints are mainly expected in the field of logistics.

Seaweed production is a potentially rewarding activity for fishermen in the Komodo area. Many potential participants have already indicated their interest in seaweed culture when they were interviewed in 1997. Some communities have already requested permits for seaweed culture from the Park authorities and are already engaged in rudimentary operations.

A pilot study and assessment on the seaweed- and seagrass-resources in the Komodo area carried out by The Nature Conservancy in May 1988 identified 8 seagrass species and 43 seaweeds. In general, the plant habitats were relatively healthy and showed very high diversities. This pilot study revealed that some use of seaweed resources was already taking place, but not in an efficient sustainable manner. The pilot study concluded that there is a high potential for the development of seaweed- and seagrass-based economic activities.

A training program will be given to local fishermen, teaching them the basic skills of sustainable seaweed farming. Expert fishermen and seaweed farmers (e.g., from Bali and Lombok) will be hired to teach local villagers a variety of skills, and expert consultants (e.g., from the Philippines) will be contracted to manage the program.

Awareness and Constituency Building

Given the complexity of ecological processes and competing resource uses in Komodo National Park, effective management can only be achieved with the commitment of all resource users. The success of Park Management depends on its ability to balance the needs of all involved. Moreover, given limited government funding and personnel, the participation of all parties is crucial to the Park’s sustainability.

For effective protection of the Park, there is a need to increase awareness concerning the fragility of the terrestrial environment, the richness of the marine environment, and the ability of the marine resources of the Park to provide a sustainable source of livelihood. Of equal importance is to increase the awareness of people in external agencies involved in the management of the Park.

In February 1996 a coordination forum took place to discuss the potential management, development and enforcement approaches for Komodo National Park with relevant provincial and local stakeholders in Labuan Bajo. Participants included forestry, fisheries and tourism officials, mayors, planning and police officers, court officials, legislators, military, NGO representatives and local village leaders from Komodo, Sumbawa and Flores. Presentations were given by various groups and participants worked in smaller groups on enforcement, park boundaries and zonation, and alternative livelihood strategies.

Also, since 1996, an awareness team has been in place that is in constant dialogue with the key communities in and around the Park. Special emphasis has been given to the identification and training of young representatives in each of the villages and teachers of elementary schools. Materials have been developed including a coral reef flip chart, posters, comic books on dynamite fishing, and leaflets on the Park. Results from the monitoring programs on corals, fish, cetaceans, and resource utilization patterns were also integrated into the awareness programs. Recently, in May 2000, a training workshop was organized for local NGOs and community members on the planning and tools for park awareness programs. Specific outputs included the development of a billboard, a song, puppet show, sermon sheets and leaflet on park regulations and marine conservation messages. Also, a billboard was placed at Komodo airport with information on marine conservation.

In the future steps need to be taken to increase staff skill levels within the Park. At present, there is a deficiency in knowledge of fisheries and Marine Park issues. Also, the high level technical, managerial, and legal skills required to implement the Park’s objectives are often lacking. With continued awareness programs and training, the quality and skill level of the staff, as well as the knowledge of the general population, will greatly increase.

Monitoring and Research

CORAL MONITORING AND REHABILITATION

An on-going coral reef monitoringprogram provides information on spatial and temporal patterns in reef status and recovery inside and outside the Park. An intensive survey of the coral reefs (185 sites) made every two years, enables mapping of damage caused by destructive fishing methods and other threats. All sites are surveyed by snorkeling (at 4 m deep) and by SCUBA diving (at 8 m and at 12 m deep). Five observations are made at each depth and each observation lasts four minutes. After each four minute swim, the observer records the estimated percentages of four habitat categories:

  • Live hard coral
  • Dead hard coral
  • Soft coral
  • Other (rock, sand, sponges, tunicates, algae, weeds, anemones, clams, etc.)

The results show that overall destruction of the coral reefs in and around the Park appears to have stopped as of 1996, and that a slow recovery (2% increase in hard coral cover per year) has started. This is most likely the result of the enormous decline in dynamite fishing in the area since early 1996. Reef recovery is fastest near the center of protective activity, which is in the town of Labuan Bajo, outside Park boundaries.

In areas where coral reefs have been severely degraded by destructive fishing practices and are unlikely to return to their original condition without intervention, restoration efforts are undertaken in cooperation with the University of California at Berkeley. These are most commonly areas where there is a strong current and no hard substrate. Preliminary data indicate that the provision of hard substrate in damaged areas greatly increases the rate of coral recovery.

FISH MONITORING

Grouper and Napoleon Wrasses spawningare being monitored to provide information on trends in the populations of economically important fish species, and to obtain feedback on the effects of management activities. The current fish monitoring program focuses on 12 key species out of two families: the Serranidae(wrasses). These species have been heavily targeted by the commercial fisheries and can therefore serve as indicators for the impact of these fisheries. Data are collected to a) determine if and how fish populations are changing over time and in space and b) identify spawning locations and spawning seasons for key fish species.

The fish monitoring program is a continuous program with monitoring activities taking place twice every month. Since March 1998, six spawning sites have been monitored twice a month, once during the new moon and once during the full moon. Each site is searched for target fish at a specific depth profile, which has been established for that site.

Preliminary results indicate that different species spawn at different lunar phases. The main spawningseason for target species is from October to January, with small differences between species. Different species use the spawning sites at different moon phases and many other reef species, including important food and ornamental fishes use the same spawning sites. All spawning sites have strong currents directed away from the reef.

Fishermen supplying the live reef fish trade all target the spawningsites in Komodo National Park. If fishermen identify the aggregation sites and the sites are not protected effectively, they will probably be fished out within 1 or 2 seasons. The few sites with spawning populations of the main target species in the live reef fish trade are of great importance to the Park’s function as a source of recruits for surrounding fishing grounds. The spawning sites in the Park need to be fully protected and therefore need to be embedded well within the borders of the no-take zones.

CETACEAN MONITORING

Cetacean monitoring is a recently added component of the marine resource management strategy in the Park. In May and October 1999 a survey took place to identify species, distribution patterns and breeding areas of cetaceans in the waters of Komodo National Park. In total, at least 15 cetacean species were sighted during 207 active survey hours conducted over 26 days. These species included the long-nosed spinner dolphin, bottlenosed dolphin, pan-tropical spotted dolphin, melon-headed whale, Risso’s dolphin, Fraser’s and rough-toothed dolphins, false and pygmy killer whales, the sperm whale, pygmy sperm wh ale, the Cuvier’s beaked whale and a rorqual baleen whale (Balaenoptera sp.) which may be regionally distinct for other known whale species in the area.

Each year cetaceans travel from the tropical Pacific and Indian Oceans through Indonesian waters, and vice versa. To do so, most will have to pass the narrow yet deep inter-island passages of the Nusa Tengarra island chain in eastern Indonesia. Komodo National Park includes three of these sensitive bottleneck passages: Selat Molo, Selat Linta and Selat Sape. However, migratory cetaceans which include these passages in their local or long-range movements are vulnerable to numerous environmental impacts such as subsurface noise disturbances caused by blast fishing, net entanglement, and marine pollution. Most, if not all, of these impacts occur in the waters of the Park. As a result of this study, efforts are being made to alter the Park’s borders to accommodate the cetaceans migratory routes to better protect them from outside threats.

RESOURCE USE

In order for Park management to succeed it is essential to determine resource use patterns throughout Komodo National Park. Fishermen working in and around the Park use a variety of fishing techniques and equipment. Some methods and types of equipment are destructive and degrade the Park’s resources. The threat of illegal destructive fishing methods is a major problem, which needs to be addressed in order to protect the marine habitats of the Park. A patrolling program was started on 28 May 1996, with Conservancy and Park staff trained to record data on resource use.

The objectives of this monitoring program are to determine which community groups are involved in which fishing activities, where they fish, and when they fish. Over time this data will also show any changes in the behavior of fishermen and it will indicate which groups of fishermen or areas in the Park need extra attention. Each fishing vessel or fishing group encountered during the routine patrols is investigated, except bagans (the local pelagic lift-net), which are excluded since they operate only at night (with lights) and they form a separate type of pelagic fishery which is not currently considered threatening to the marine resources of the Park. Bagan is the most important gear type used in the Park and accounts for the major part of fishing revenues.

Data collected from fishing vessels encountered during patrols include:

  • Date and position (using GPS coordinates)
  • Type of boat and engine according to categories
  • Number of fishermen on the boat or in the fishing group
  • Method or fishing gear according to categories
  • Species in the catch according to categories
  • Quantity and quality of the catch according to categories
  • Origin of the fishing vessel or group according to categories

This information has led to the design of a zoning and regulation scheme for the Park in such a way that objectives can be achieved with a minimum of conflict with local resource users. The routine patrolling program has led to a significant decline in destructive fishing practices, and should be maintained. The primary threat comes from outside communities in Sape, South Flores and Sulawesi. Local communities pose less of a threat, since they generally use ‘bagan’ lift-nets that are not destructive to the coral reef ecosystem. The bagan fishery of local communities should also be monitored in the future, to avoid over-fishing and collapse of stocks of small pelagic fish.

GEOGRAPHIC INFORMATION SYSTEM

The capability to collect, store, analyze and communicate information is crucial to reach the conservation goals of Komodo National Park. Previously the Park collected and used geographic information stored in a variety of ways: as hand-drawn or printed maps, as tables (on paper or digitized in spreadsheet programs), or simply as geo-referenced text in reports. As the amount of geographic information grew, the Park needed a new system so The Nature Conservancy implemented a Geographic Information System (GIS).

A GIS is a computer system for the handling of geographic information. There are many potential applications of GIS, which can be grouped into three general categories-data management, map production, and spatial analysis. It allows larger image files to be processed and provides for greater integration of geographical information.

The basis of the Komodo GIS is a scanned part of the nautical map of the Komodo area. It features the islands in the Komodo area, geographic names, isobaths (5, 10, 20 and 200 m), depth soundings, and shallow coral reefs. The scanned map is used as a background on which features (e.g. coral monitoring sites, ranger sites) are plotted.

The implementation of a GIS in the Park greatly assists with the mapping needs of the TNC Komodo Field Office and the Indonesian Dept. of Nature Conservation (PKA) Komodo National Park Office.

The GIS provides crucial information for reaching many of the parks objectives including:

  • Producing maps of coral damage caused by blast fishing
  • Producing maps of resource use (e.g. fishing, sea grass harvesting)
  • Identifying potential grouper spawning sites
  • Assisting in the spatial analysis of change in resource use and coral damage
  • Collecting and storing satellite imagery
  • Integrating spatial knowledge more efficiently

Mooring Buoy Program

Most recreational areas lack permanent mooring buoys for boats to use in lieu of anchoring. Therefore, fishing crews frequently throw anchors into the fragile coral structures causing serious physical damage. As a result PKA and The Nature Conservancy installed 25 Halas mooring buoys in Komodo National Park.

The Halas mooring buoy system works by embedding a stainless steel mooring pin into a hard substrate within a coral reef. This system causes very little disturbance to the surrounding habitats. Under normal circumstances, the ‘anchor’ itself does not move under water. This feature eliminates the dragging damage common with other buoy systems. It is one of the most environmentally mooring systems available for small to medium sized boats.

In is hoped that in the future this program can evolve to a point where it is controlled by local authorities. Local Park rangers and divers have been trained how to install and maintain the buoys so, along with local fisherman and NGOs, have the knowledge to take control of the program. This move will allow for the local involvement needed to help monitor and maintain the mooring buoy program in the future.

25 Year Management Plan / Zoning

Area management within Komodo National Park is based on zoning. The zoning system of the Park (see table below) is in accordance with decree number 74/Kpts/Dj-VI/1990 from the Director General of PHPA and Law No. 5 of the year 1990 concerning the Conservation of Biological Resources and Their Ecosystems. The zoning system for the Park covers both terrestrial and marine habitats, where each of these two habitats have their own set of regulations.

The following zone types are to be implemented in the Park:

  • Core Zone (Zona Inti)
  • Wilderness Zone with Limited Tourism (Zona Rimba dengan Wisata Terbatas)
  • Tourism Use Zone (Zona Pemanfaatan Wisata)
  • Traditional Use Zone (Zona Pemanfaatan Tradisional)
  • Pelagic Use Zone (Zona Pemanfaatan Pelagis)
  • Special Research and Traimi Training Zone (Zona khusus Penelitian dan Latihan)
  • Traditional Settlement Zone (Zona Pemukiman Tradisional)

Map of the zonation of Komodo National Park

Komodo Zoning

The Core Zone, the Wilderness Zone with Limited Tourism, the Tourism Use Zone and Special Research and Training Zone are all no-take zones where all harvesting and/or mining of live and dead natural resources is strictly prohibited.

Harvesting of living marine resources is only permitted in the Traditional Use Zone and in the Pelagic Use Zone of the Park.

Tourism is strictly prohibited only in the Core Zone of the Park.

Special regulations and sub-zoning will be designed for tourism in the Wilderness Zone with Limited Tourism.

The free passage of ships into and through the Park is only permitted in the Pelagic and Traditional Use Zones.

Special licenses are needed for vessels aiming to enter the Wilderness Zone of the Park.

Summary of Zoning System for Komodo National Park.

Zone Permissible activities Prohibited activities
All Zones Monitoring, research (with permits), environmental restoration Anchoring except in designated areas, collecting legally protected species, damaging marine or terrestrial habitat, keeping dogs or cats, trash/waste disposal except where designated, harvesting fuel wood, the use of cyanide, poisons, hookah
hookah, scuba, or explosives for
fishing in the Park
1. Core Zone (Zona Inti) See All Zones All other activities prohibited
2. Wilderness Zone
Wilderness Zone with Limited Tourism (Zona Rimba dengan Wisata Terbatas)
Plus limited tourism with permits All other activities prohibited
3. Tourism Use Zone
Tourism Use Zone
(Zona Pemanfaatan Wisata)
Plus tourism with permits (temporary accommodations allowed dependent on outcome of EIA), facilities development for Park management (dependent on outcome of EIA) All other activities prohibited
4. Traditional Use
Traditional Use Zone (Zona Pemanfaatan Tradisional)
Plus tourism (temporary accommodations), mariculture
mariculture , captive breeding, fishing in designated sites using small-scale gear subject to certain restrictions (all subject to permits and dependent on outcome of EIA)
All other activities prohibited
5. Pelagic Zone (Zona Pelagis) Plus recreational, sustenance, and commercial pelagic fishing subject to restrictions on gear type, species harvested, and location (all subject to permits and dependent on outcome of an EIA) Plus capture of demersal
demersal species is prohibited, capture of Nautilidae, Sepiidae, Octopodidae, and marine invertebrates apart from Loliginidae is prohibited, all other activities prohibited
6. Special Research and Training Zone
Special Research and Training Zone
(Zona khusus Penelitian dan Latihan)
Plus research and training (all subject to permits and dependent on outcome of EIA) All other activities prohibited
7. Traditional Settlement Zone
Traditional Settlement Zone
(Zona Pemukiman Tradisional)
Plus rearing of domestic animals, harvesting sand or limestone, the use of pesticides within the home, limited agriculture (no pesticides or fertilizer), limited fresh water use, and other normal daily living activities Plus immigration prohibited, all other activities prohibited

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