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New Borneo project supports sustainable crab fishery and mangrove protections

March 12, 2020

Seacology has funded many different kinds of projects over the years–schools, solar panels, water systems, just to name a few. But until this year, we’d never been approached by a village that wanted to build a shelter for baby crabs.

The request came from Sungai Nibung, a village on the west coast of Borneo. Mangrove forests near the village are rich with orchids, barking deer, long-tailed monkeys, and hundreds of species of birds. The surrounding waters are teeming with crocodiles, shrimp, fish, crabs, turtles, and dolphins.

These forests are also the source of villagers’ livelihoods. People in Sungai Nibung traditionally make their living by selling fish, shrimp, and crabs. To keep these fisheries thriving, they need healthy mangrove forests.

But five years ago, they saw that deforestation and unsustainable fishing practices were taking a toll on the environment.They organized three-person teams to patrol the mangroves every day, and are rotating between fishing and crabbing so that no area is overburdened. The community has agreed to keep protecting 7,660 acres of the mangrove forest for 20 years.

To further strengthen the crab fishery, the village is using a Seacology grant to build a crab nursery, working with our Indonesian partner INTAN (Institute of Technology, Forest Product Research and Development). Community members will catch tiny crab hatchlings in the wild and keep them until they’re big enough to have a better chance of growing to adulthood. At that point, they’ll release the crabs back into the mangrove forest–and eventually, catch some of them again.

The village is also using Seacology funds to buy drones, laptops and walkie-talkies, to facilitate communication among people monitoring the mangroves.

This project gives the 1,417 people of the community a way to both protect their life-giving mangrove forest and improve their economic opportunities–a classic win-win Seacology project!