Shrimp cultivation is a fishery commodity with the fastest growth rate and with a global trade value that covers 15% of the total international fishery trade value. The majority of shrimp are farmed in developing countries and make a significant contribution to the local economy. The need for protein in the form of fish will continue to increase until 2030. Therefore, major fishery producing countries such as Indonesia have set an ambitious target to increase export volumes by 250% by 2024. This step can help the local and national economy, but it must be done carefully be careful not to undermine global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
This was conveyed by Muhammad Ilman, Director of the Marine Program of Yayasan Konservasi Alam Nusantara (YKAN) at the international shrimp farming conference, The Aquaculture Roundtable Series (TARS 2021) on Thursday (19/8).
“Many ponds have already been built in mangrove ecosystems in Southeast Asia. This practice is a major contributor to the reduction of global mangrove ecosystems. In Indonesia, for example, most of the 600,000 hectares of shrimp ponds are extensive low-productivity ponds converted from mangrove land,” explained Ilman.
As a solution, Ilman conveyed the need to redesign the layout of the extensive ponds, so that 50–80% of ponds can return to function as mangrove forests naturally. On the other hand, cultivation activities can be continued in the remaining areas by encouraging more advanced cultivation technology to increase production. This approach can save 600,000 hectares of mangrove with mitigation potential and CO2 reduction of 1 billion tons in 10 years, and at the same time, Indonesia can achieve its shrimp production target.
Lessons from Berau Regency and Semarang City
On this occasion, Ilman also conveyed lessons learned from YKAN's activities with partners about sustainable shrimp farming in Berau Regency, East Kalimantan, and Semarang City, Central Java. “Berau Regency has a mangrove ecosystem of 86,000 hectares, the widest in East Kalimantan Province. Unfortunately, the unplanned opening of shrimp farms is the main driver of mangrove deforestation there. In 2019, 13 percent or 11,000 hectares of mangrove land were converted into shrimp ponds. If the pond area continues to expand, it can cause a bigger negative impact, not only for ecosystems but also for coastal communities,” said Ilman.
Ilman continued that to overcome this, YKAN together with the Research Institute for Brackish Water Cultivation Fisheries and Fisheries Extension, Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries, introduced SECURE (Shrimp-Carbon Aquaculture) ponds in the Berau Delta. Most of the shrimp ponds in the delta are large, ranging from 5 hectares to 25 hectares. The size of this pond is inversely proportional to its productivity which is only 27 kg per hectare per cycle. This low productivity is one of the reasons to open new shrimp farms in order to get more economic benefits.
The SECURE pond program is carried out by redesigning the shrimp pond to a smaller size and combining it with mangrove hydrological restoration. The program has restored 10 hectares of active shrimp ponds to 2 hectares of shrimp ponds. While the remaining area of 8 hectares is used as a mangrove restoration area that will support natural food for shrimp and fish, and reduce carbon emissions.
The same thing was also applied in Mangunharjo Village, Semarang, where YKAN collaborated with the Center for Brackish Water Aquaculture Fisheries (BBPBAP) Jepara through the Mangrove Ecosystem Restoration Alliance (MERA) program to introduce semi-intensive and household-scale shrimp farming technology in a sustainable manner. This method is suitable to be developed because it is environmentally friendly. This is in line with efforts to increase public awareness to preserve mangroves and the coastal environment.
Ilman explained that the semi-intensive vaname shrimp farm demonstration plot program is very helpful for the community, because the method is quite easy to learn, and the results are maximal. In the past, at harvest time, farmers usually only received 50 kg for a pond with an area of 1,200 square meters. However, since being accompanied by YKAN and BBPBAP Jepara using household-scale semi-intensive technology, the yield from the same pond can reach more than 300 kg at a time and environmental sustainability is maintained.
“If coastal areas are managed in an integrated manner, a balance will be created between the welfare of the farming community and the conservation of the mangrove ecosystem. This effort is important because a healthy mangrove ecosystem supports fishery productivity, provides a source of income, protection, and contributes to food and social security as well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” concluded Ilman.
Yayasan Konservasi Alam Nusantara (YKAN) is a scientific-based non-profit organization that has been present in Indonesia since 2014. With the mission of protecting lands and waters as life support systems, we provide innovative solutions to realize the harmony of nature and humans through effective natural resource management, prioritizing a non-confrontational approach, and building a network of partnerships with all stakeholders for a sustainable Indonesia. For more information, visit ykan.or.id.