The Karaka Fisherman Group in Bontang Kuala District, North Bontang, East Kalimantan should be proud. They were selected to participate in diving training and certification from PT Pupuk Kalimantan Timur (PKT).
Not without reason, the PKT chose the Karaka fishing group to take part in the training on July 1-9, 2022. This group is very concerned about coral reef conservation programs.
In addition to this, the Karaka fishing group is a new PKT fostered group that was only formed in early 2022. PKT’s VP of Social and Environmental Responsibility (TJSL), Anggono Wijaya, said that the purpose of forming this group is of course for the sustainability of coral reef conservation programs with the direct involvement of fishing communities in the coastal area of Bontang.
Previously, the PKT also held a similar training involving the Kimasea fishing group from Loktuan Bontang Utara Village. The fostered period for this fishing group lasts for four years.
“After the Kimasea group achieved independence and the exit program in 2021, the Karaka group was formed so that other fishermen from the Bontang coast also get similar benefits,” said Anggono.
Although there are 14 members of the Karaka fishing group, only 5 members have participated in this diving training and certification. This is because this activity is the initial stage of the development program, to introduce group members to good and safe diving techniques so that when running the program, they can minimize risks that could occur underwater.
“Through training and certification, fostered fishermen from the Karaka group are encouraged to be able to properly observe and monitor the development of artificial reefs, so that potential damage to reefs by various factors can be anticipated,” he added.
Anggono hopes that this diving certification can increase the awareness of members of the assisted fishing groups on the importance of maintaining the continuity of coral reefs, as one of the sources of life for marine ecosystems. Not only that, but the abilities gained can also be used in maintaining the Bontang aquatic ecosystem, both from garbage and other factors found during diving activities.
“The main target of this certification is not only focused on supporting the PKT artificial reef program, but also other activities that are positive for aquatic ecosystems and benefit the Bontang community,” added Anggono.
The benefits of this activity were recognized by the Head of the Fisherman’s Group, Karaka Yusta. According to Yusta, his group got an understanding of the methods and skills in diving to support the PKT’s coral reef conservation program.
“We thank you for the guidance and empowerment during this program, so that in the future we can contribute to maintaining the Bontang aquatic ecosystem and benefit the community,” explained Yusta.
Other PKT Fostered Groups
Karaka is not the only PKT fostered group. Previously, PKT also guided Kimasea fishing groups for a duration of five years, from 2017 to 2022.
Kimasea, which was formed in 2017, consists of 10 coastal fishermen from the Village of Loktuan, North Bontang, Bontang City. The reason behind the guidance of this group is to raise awareness of fishermen in protecting aquatic ecosystems, by encouraging real actions to save aquatic ecosystems without any more destructive activities in fishing.
This is considered important because the conservation program will not be on target if public awareness of the importance of maintaining aquatic ecosystems is not formed.
“The development of the Kimasea group is also a form of PKT’s benefits to the community, in particular promoting welfare through empowerment by increasing the capacity and ability of fishermen,” said PKT President Director, Rahmad Pribadi.
Since the beginning of the development program, the Kimasea group has been provided with education about the importance of protecting aquatic ecosystems and environmentally friendly fishing. Then, they also receive training and empowerment such as making reef media to monitor the development of conservation areas on a regular basis.
The education of the Kimasea fishing group has yielded positive results. This group plays a role in inviting fishermen in Bontang City to solve the problem of damage to aquatic ecosystems so that public awareness of protecting waters as a shared responsibility also increases.
“The strengthening of the capacity of members of the Kimasea group is also targeted during the development program, such as the ability of reef transplantation techniques, to training and diving certification to support monitoring activities in conservation areas,” added Rahmad.
After five years under the guidance of the PKT, Kimasea and its 14 members succeeded in establishing a business to manufacture coral reef media from various models. Amazingly, they not only serve the needs of the PKT conservation program, but also supply various orders from the government, institutions, and other companies in Bontang City.
From this business unit, the Kimasea group was able to achieve independence, followed by the welfare of its members, until it entered an exit strategy in early 2022. This was done so that the expansion of program benefits could be expanded to other areas, and the empowerment of fishing communities was realized evenly in Bontang City.
Coral reef conservation in Bontang Waters itself has been carried out by PKT since 2009 with a commitment of 500 coral reef media units every year. This program is implemented in Tobok Batang Waters, Bontang City, with an area of 20 hectares.
Then, why is this program implemented in Bontang Waters? The condition of coral reefs in Bontang Waters which are damaged by destructive non-environmental fishing (PITRAL) such as the use of explosives or chemicals is the reason. Based on government data, of the 5.464 ha of coral reefs in Bontang waters, 2.500 ha of them are in a damaged condition.
After 13 years of the program implementation, now there are 38 genus of corals in all PKT conservation areas with relatively normal growth of soft coral and hard coral. Likewise, transplantation methods continue to be developed using cube and trapezoidal reef models.
This model strongly supports the development of transplantation with their respective advantages. Among them are bigger fish for the cube model, and more fish for the trapezoidal model. Even from the evaluation, one year of reef development with transplants can reach a size of 40 centimeters.
Following the principles of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG), the expansion of reef conservation and rehabilitation will continue to be developed by PKT as the company’s commitment to running a business that is in harmony with the environment, while maintaining the balance of nature and ecosystems continuously. This is also an effort to encourage the realization of 17 indicators of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and community independence through the concept of sustainable development. This commitment is implemented by PKT by continuously improving performance in environmental management, from energy and water efficiency, emission reduction, the 3R (Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle) program for toxic (B3) waste and non-toxic (non-B3) solid waste to the protection of biodiversity and aquatic ecosystems. Environmental quality improvement is also realized by PKT through a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) study, with a cradle-to-grave system limit that is integrated with sustainable program innovations.