Lida Pet Soede, WWF Indonesia
This Christmas, buy your loved ones a piece of virtual coral reef and help protect some of the most biodiverse waters on the planet. We chat with WWF Indonesia's Lida Pet Soede about projects underway to conserve coral reefs and boost local livelihoods.
Lida: Around the coastlines of the countries in the coral triangle there are thousands and thousands, millions in fact, of people that live there and they donít have anything else to do. They wake up in the morning, they look at the ocean, they go out, they have to go catch a fish. We estimate actually as many as a 120 million people inside the coral triangle are depending, one way or another, on these marine and coastal ecosystems.
So many of those, of course, are fishermen; but you also have to think about people that are selling fish in the markets and, of course, people that are engaged in the tourism industry which is still growing. So, it is an incredible resource for people living in these countries themselves.
Helen: Not all of us are lucky enough to have a chance to visit the beautiful reefs of the coral triangle, but this area is still important for all of us isnít it? And you at WWF are running a campaign to get everyone helping to protect the coral triangle.
Lida: Itís true. The coral triangle is very important for people who live here, they canít go anywhere else, and so it is critical that together, with the governments and the people who live in the coral triangle we try to preserve at least part of this area. And, also we try to reduce bad practices in fisheries.
But a lot of the seafood that you would have available in Europe, especially tuna but a couple of the tropical reef fishes also are exported to the United States. That actually makes that connection between people who donít live here but who actually, increasingly for their seafood, are depending on the coral triangle.
We started a campaign which in fact has two objectives. One is to raise awareness and tell stories to the world about the coral triangle. Really there are good activities underway by local communities, by conservation groups such as WWF and the governments of the coral triangle are also really starting to make this a priority.
But the other objective is to try and motivate people to take action and support some of the work that we can do here. So we launched My Coral Triangle which first of all, actually, is aiming at people here in Asia. People are not used to providing support for charity in the environmental realm. We think that people in the coral triangle and countries around it do care where their seafood comes from, and especially the younger generations are really keen to dive and have a beautiful holiday experience so we are really keen to get to those people that live around the coral triangle itself.
But we are also very keen to raise the attention of the world to how special this place is. And in fact, maybe, the tuna sandwich that you are going to have for lunch today may come from these very waters here.
Helen: And you mention there are some great positive stories in some of the work that WWF and other groups are doing.
Lida: WWF is working with a lot of different partners, and they have a long history of working with communities on the ground and field projects. But I want to mention actually a more recent example of some really good action. Weíre working here with a local fish trader and he is a young man, 35 years old. He has traveled the world and he has seen some of the aspects of responsible seafood choices and thinking about the environment. So what he is doing here, he buys seafood here that he exports to Hong Kong and China and also he is interested to start exporting to Europe and Australia. But the fishers that he is buying from, he has asked them to only use legal fishing gear, to catch only those fish that are already mature.
But, also, he is actually right now working with us to protect the fish spawning aggregation and those areas he is very keen to protect because he realizes that if the fishermen would empty out those places that are critical for the reproduction and the regeneration, if you will, of these fish populations, then his business has also not going to be sustained.
There you have an example from a private sector business man who is wanting and needs to make money but he is actually educating the fishermen from which he buys to only catch the fish that are old enough and big enough.
Through the website we also like to see if the world can meet people like this fish trader and many of the other people who are doing really good work.
Find out more:
My Coral Triangle, WWF Indonesia