Fishing for food security

Local fishermen in Indonesia are catching less fish. Whatever the reason, it is a significant problem for those who live on small islands in particular, as fish make up about 90 per cent of the protein they eat.

A team of Indonesian and Australian social scientists is looking at how communities adapt to these changes.

Initially, in a pilot project study financed by the Australia Indonesia Centre, the researchers are examining whether there is a link between fishing productivity and feelings of food insecurity in the small islands off Kai Kecil, and if so, whether a weakening of local management of fish populations and a rise in intercommunity conflicts over fish resources play a role.

The researchers are also studying how individuals cope with food insecurity, and attitudes to alternative ways of making a living.

“There are a lot of small islands in the world,” says project coordinator Dr Budy Resosudarmo of the Crawford School of Public Policy at the Australian National University.

“Indonesia is a good case for this issue. If we can find out how to handle this, maybe we can provide answers to the rest of the world, particularly the islands of the Torres Strait and the Pacific Ocean.

“Improved transportation could also create a better flow of goods and services, and that could generate the possibility of great trade with the rest of the world and a bigger market for Australian agriculture, in particular,” Budy says.

The collaboration has drawn upon resources of two universities in Indonesia, Hasanuddin in Sulawesi and Pattimura in the regional capital of Ambon; the Tual Fisheries Polytechnic in Kai Kecil; and from two universities in Australia, the Australian National University and the University of Tasmania, where there are experts in fisheries economics.

Banner image credit: Australia Indonesia Centre