Les Village, Bali, Indonesia

When Conservation Becomes a Way of Life

Les Village, Bali, Indonesia

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View the CCRN’s Les Village Community Story as a PDF

Les Village is a fishing community located in the east of Buleleng Regency of Indonesia. Locals mostly depend on fishing for their livelihood, as the land is very dry and not fertile enough for agriculture. Les Village fisheries consists of the seafood sector and the ornamental sector, consisting of about 150 fishermen altogether. Initially, nets were used to catch ornamental fish in Les Village. However, an increasing demand in the 1980s prompted the fishers to look for ways to improve their catch. In 1985, the cyanide method of fishing was introduced to help meet this demand. Fishers discovered that cyanide makes fish lethargic, thereby making them easier to catch. Beginning in the 1990s and into the 2000s, marine ornamental fish began to be a lucrative commercial commodity. Fishers, concentrating on fulfilling their household needs and generating income, which is based on international demand, unintentionally exploited Mother Nature to meet their livelihood. The use of cyanide negatively impacted the local marine environment, devastating fish populations and coral coverage. Not being able to meet market demand, this development depleted fisher’s income and devastated their social life. Lack of government concern created a sense of abandonment among marine ornamental fishers. In the early 2000s, the NGO Yayasan Bahtera Nusantara (YBN) came and provided much needed support to the fishers. The YBN provided fishers with training and new equipment for environmentally friendly fishing, thus moving from cyanide to using nets and barriers only. The approach that the NGO helped to implement was particularly successful since it acknowledged the fisher’s belief system, thus helping Les Village fishers transform from the destroyer to the guardian.