On the west side of Bali various reefs are struggling and coral cover has decreased severely over the last years. The fishing pressure has been high during the Covid pandemic, fish farms and their discharge are active in the area , there are reports of destructive cyanide fishing for the aquarium trade, etc. However, the potential of the reefs is high and the topography of for instance Napoleon Reef is ideal to support a diverse reef ecosystem.
Looking for partners in the area, we met members of Sahabat Alam Pemuteran, the official community/village cooperation. With great enthusiasm the team agreed to start a conservation project together with Coral Reef Care. We selected 3 reefs in the bay that we believe have priority. The first reef ‘Close Encounters’ is a flat area with loose coral rubble. ‘Napoleon Reef’ has a lot of hard and hilly substrate. The 3rd reef ‘Deep Reef’ is again coral rubble but with a slope and a flat area.
All reefs ask for a different approach. On Close Encounters we are deploying artificial structures on which we transplant corals. These corals partly come from a new coral farm we have set up in 2021. On Deep Reef we stabilize the coral rubble with a large steel wire mesh (compare it with thick chicken wire) to prevent it from falling down the slope and doing damage. We will later also apply this technique on Deep Reef. On Napoleon Reef we are planning to transplant corals directly on the natural substrate but we are awaiting approval from the community for that.
However, the most exciting part of this project is the support from the community. The fishermen are keen to see the reef being developed. Also, the project will provide jobs long term for the community. Therefore, the community decided the restoration areas are now No Take Zones i.e. fishing is prohibited in these areas. This is a big step in the conservation effort and enables us to do our work much more effective.
Photos by Giacomo d’Orlando