October 30, 2014

Reef Check Indonesia EcoDiver Becomes First Ever CORAL Conservation Prize Winner

Nyoman Sugiarta (second from left) poses with the Indonesian contingency at the Coral Reef Alliance 20th Anniversary Gala

Nyoman Sugiarta, a Reef Check EcoDiver and a fisherman from Bali, Indonesia, has been selected by Coral Reef Alliance (CORAL) as the inaugural 2014 CORAL Conservation Prize winner. Serving as conservation inspiration around the world, Sugiarta was chosen for his work in protecting and monitoring coral reefs with the support of Reef Check Indonesia. He received $20,000 for his leadership and dedication on September 20, 2014 at the CORAL 20th Anniversary Gala at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, California.

With Reef Check Indonesia, Sugiarta is the leader of the marine protected area (MPA) citizen enforcement team, and has set up successful monitoring through regular beach patrols and underwater cleanups. He is dedicated to supporting fishermen and encourages more sustainable fishing practices. “The reef looks much better now than it did before we created the MPA because we stopped fishermen from neighboring villages from using cyanide poison on the reef,” says Sugiarta. “We also stopped fishermen from using bottom nets, which, as far as I know, damage the reef and the environment permanently.”

The area currently has two fish aggravating devices (FADs), designed to decrease the local fishing pressure on reef fish. The FADs, built by Sugiarta and his team, attract pelagic fish; research has found them to be very successful in providing more fishing opportunities for fishermen, while simultaneously taking pressure off near-shore reef fish populations.

Sugiarta intends to reinvest the prize money to safeguard MPA boundaries using buoys and a patrol boat, and to implement an educational awareness program for elementary schools. Additionally, he hopes to use part of his new funds to build four more FADs and continue supporting the Bondalem fishing community. Congratulations Nyoman!

You can see a short video about Nyoman here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T8KxhzD3-sk