Made and Nyoman wake early to start their day out on the Bali Sea around 7am. They set up with their nets, scoops, oxygen and a packed lunch, and leave from their home in Les Village, North Bali, to spend 4-5 hours on the open ocean.

They are fishing for ornamental fish, the most beautiful and rare of species in the coral triangle and coveted throughout the world. Made has been fishing for ornamental reef fish for over 20 years and Nyoman, also known as Jabo, has been a fisherman for over 30 years. In that time, a lot has changed in the industry.

bali fishermen

A far cry from the 1980’s Made and Jabo are non-destructive fisherman who dive down to the reefs to search for fish. Since partnering with the LINI Aquaculture and Training Centre, they also breed them themselves. Learning more about these exotic and rare species and their habits, they have been able to successfully meet rising demand for ornamental fish in a sustainable way through breeding. This keeps wild numbers high which is amplified by their work with reef building.

marine conservation in bali-Fisherman shows volunteer how to cut coralsIt is in the afternoons, once the fishing has been done and the fish sold off to invested parties, that they make their way to LINI to work on keeping the industry sustainable and responsible.

Jabo has been working with LINI since 2015, when the Aquaculture and Training Centre was first established. His job is to maintain the buildings and  pumps, to clean the ponds, feed the fish and to also check the water quality. He knows the centre inside out and when there are visitors Jabo helps to show them around.

Made has been working for LINI for the last 7 years. His jobs include inputting the fisherman’s catch data and helping to breed the fish. He also works closely with volunteers to make the artificial reefs and deploy them. Coming from a family of fishermen, Made says that he loves his job because he loves the marine environment and wants to do everything he can to protect it. He also wants to do something useful for his village and to help continue the fishing trade in Les. His wife feels the same and both she and Jabo’s wife also work at LINI, in aquaculture and in the kitchens, making the investment in sustainable fishing and marine activity a family affair.

Although Jabo doesn’t come from a fishing family, he has the same passions and drives as Made. They love their village, love marine life, and want to have a sustainable marine environment in Bali; it is the reason why they love their jobs despite the challenges.

explore-by-boatMade and Jabo tell us that their main challenge is the weather. Simply, if the weather is bad and they cannot get out on the water, they cannot find fish to breed or sell. They won’t get paid and they can’t provide for their families. This is exacerbated by beachfront hotels and resorts who are closing off sections of the sea to fishermen. While this is a form of protection for the reefs and marine life, the sea communities who rely on fishing struggle.

It is the disparity between ecological sustainability and community development that organisations like LINI hope to bridge. They know that stopping the ornamental fishing industry may save marine life, but will harm local communities. And they know that not doing anything will harm both in the long run, when over-fishing causes complete species depletion. It is locals like Made, Jabo and their wives that help stop this happening.

Learn more about marine conservation and fishing communities in Bali here and get in touch with our team today to find out how you can make a contribution to sustaining the delicate marine ecosystem even while travelling Bali.

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Jade loves nothing more than researching, planning and embarking on new adventures. Life in chaotic and charming Hanoi was a dream but now the rest of the world awaits! Follow her further at journey-count.com

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