On September 22, 2020, a group of shrimp farmers in Mangunharjo Urban Village, Tugu District, Semarang City, supported by Yayasan Konservasi Alam Nusantara (YKAN), Jepara Center for Brackish Water Aquaculture Fisheries ( Balai Besar Perikanan Budidaya Air Payau or BBPBAP), PT Djarum, and PT 3M, held an event for "The First Harvest of Whiteleg Shrimp Aquaculture Demonstration Plot with Semi-Intensive Technology at the Household Scale” (“Panen Perdana Demplot Budi Daya Udang Vaname dengan Teknologi Semi Intensif Skala Rumah Tangga”). This event, conducted by following the COVID-19 protocol, was a part of Mangrove Ecosystem Restoration Alliance (MERA) programs. MERA is a national multistakeholder platform intending to reduce coastal communities, protect natural resources and assets, and support climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts based on science.
Mangunharjo Urban Village was once one of the fisheries centers in Semarang City. At its prime time, the aquaculture ponds in Mangunharjo produced milkfishes, snappers, giant tiger prawns, Whiteleg shrimps, wild shrimps (Whiteleg), and crabs. Most of the residents of Mangunharjo Urban Village are fish breeders and fishers. However, aquaculture productions have been decreasing over the past years due to declining environmental conditions, especially the biophysics, soil chemistry, and water, and lack of improvement in the capability of breeders and fishers to develop brackish water aquacultures.
To address that issue, since November 2019, YKAN has worked with Jepara Center for Brackish Water Aquaculture Fisheries ( Balai Besar Perikanan Budidaya Air Payau or BBPBAP) in developing brackish water aquaculture demonstration plot in Mangunharjo Urban Village by involving three existing aquaculture cultivator groups: Mina Usaha Mandiri Group, Rejo Mulyo Group, and Kali Santren Group. “The cooperation between YKAN and Jepara BBPBAP intends to increase community welfare by sustainably utilizing unproductive paddy fields and ponds with semi-intensive technology at the household scale. This method is appropriate to be developed because it is eco-friendly, which aligns with the effort in raising community awareness about conserving mangrove and coastal areas,” said Sugeng Raharjo, Head of Jepara BBPBAP.
For almost a year, the MERA program related to aquaculture in Mangunharjo Urban Village established understanding and agreement with brackish water aquaculture cultivator groups, which was strengthened by a location survey to review water and soil qualities. Aquaculture cultivator groups would receive direct onsite training or online training about land preparation techniques, choosing juvenile shrimp (benur), managing the water quality and shrimps’ health, feeding technique, and harvesting. In supporting these aquaculture activities, the MERA program provides revolving capital (modal bergulir) for aquaculture demonstration plots in the form of pond tools, juvenile shrimps (benur), shrimp feeds, and marketing supports.
“This semi-intensive Whiteleg shrimp aquaculture demonstration plot program was very beneficial for the community because it was easy to learn the method and produced maximal outcomes. Before, we could only harvest 50 kg for a 1,200 meters pond. However, after we were facilitated by YKAN and Jepara BBPBAP in using semi-intensive technology at the household scale, the produce could be up to 600 kg per harvest in the same pond while still conserving and protecting the environment. At present, there are more breeders and other groups who would like to learn about this aquaculture technique,” said Irfan, Head of Mina Usaha Mandiri Group.
In this event, Hevearita Gunaryanti Rahayu, Vice Mayor of Semarang, also gave appreciation to this eco-friendly aquaculture pond development effort. “Thank you to YKAN and Jepara BBPBAP for facilitating and developing the eco-friendly aquaculture development program in Mangunharjo Urban Village. This is a noble effort to raise community economic welfare and conserve nature. The Government of Semarang City will always support the development effort and replication of this initiative,” said Hevearita.
The shrimp aquaculture demonstration plot is an initial step of the MERA Program to encourage more eco-friendly shrimp aquaculture. “One of the objectives in integrated coastal management through MERA program in Mangunharjo Urban Village is to create a balance between aquaculture breeder community welfare and mangrove ecosystem conservation. This effort is very important because a healthy mangrove ecosystem supports high fisheries productivity, provides livelihood sources and protection, and contributes to food and social security,” explained Muhammad Imran Amin, MERA Program Director.
Aside from the aquaculture program, YKAN, together with communities in Mangunharjo Urban Village, also identified community economic potential through a participatory approach called Communities Inspiring Actions for Change (Aksi Inspiratif Warga untuk Perubahan or SIGAP). Through SIGAP processes, shrimp chips, mangrove batik, and aquacultures were identified as flagship and potential products for communities in Mangunharjo Urban Villages. In supporting the sustainability of those community businesses, the MERA program has facilitated the establishment of Mandiri Raharja Multifunctional Cooperative (Koperasi Serbaguna Mandiri Raharja). “With Mandiri Raharja Multifunctional Cooperative, community’s products are hopefully marketed well, their qualities are always ensured, and its outcomes can help improve the community economy,” said Sugiarty, Head of Mangunharjo Urban Village.
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.