Today marks one month since I touched down in Bali to begin my summer as a CBE fellow interning with OneReef in Indonesia. I am serving as an economics intern hired to identify the most effective models for protecting reef patches that are deemed “super productive”. Protecting these patches will not only lead to greater ecological support, it will also allow local community members to reap the economic benefits through industries like tourism and fishing.
So far, I have spent my month building relationships with organizations operating locally, such as Rare, USAID-SEA, and The Coral Triangle Center. I have truly learned the importance of patience and persistence in this crucial stage. I have faced the obstacles of being a new and (potentially irrelevant looking) email address in these large organization’s inboxes, and dealt with office closures due to the holy celebrations of Ramadan…to say communication has been slow and difficult is an understatement. But, I have learned that establishing a new project takes time, and that building these relationships during this early stage is a key factor in success.
As month #1 wraps up, plans have finally been arranged for the most exciting portion of my summer: a field visit to the Dampier Strait of Raja Ampat, one of the most biodiverse regions of the world and a scuba diver’s paradise.
I will embark on the journey to Batanta and Salawati islands to accompany the Rare Indonesia team on a week-long field assessment of five villages in the Dampier Strait marine conservation area. I will participate in reef health assessments, meet local communities to conduct household surveys on fishing practices, and collect data on the current state of MPA enforcement to determine how OneReef can come up with an agreement to incentivize the enforcement of these highly productive reef patches. I will live in “Spartan” accommodations as they lightly warned, and will be off the grid as I observe crucial aspects of the local communities that will enable us to build capacity for enforcement and create local incentives, tied to tourism and fisheries. There is a lot to learn and I am looking forward to the next part of this adventure!
My next blog post will be filled with more exciting details and pictures from Raja Ampat, but for now, I figured I would touch a bit on my observation of Bali and its current environmental state. Unfortunately, I have witnessed Bali swimming in a sea of plastic…almost quite literally. The ocean is drowning in plastic and the Coral Triangle is in grave danger. I am interested to see what the state of plastics and pollution is like in the outer islands of Indonesia compared to the more developed region of Bali. More on this to come- stay tuned!