Rural economies are dependent on the sea for food, for livelihoods, and for transportation. Too many ‘well-wishers’ parachute into new geographies intent to deliver ecological outcomes to funders without understanding their impacts on the local communities they intend to help. Conservation and food security for future generations are not simply about conservation. Conservation can only be achieved by changing fisher behavior. Therefore conservation is a complex process of empowering communities, demonstrating benefit, education, and trust-building.
Our view has always been that we need to support both ecological and community goals. It is not an either/or but a both/and. If our approach doesn’t solve both/and, then it's not a viable solution. Most of our work in Indonesian and Southeast Asia has been around developing the capacity of local communities to benefit from the resources on which they rely. More recently we have been focused on the value to boat owners to certifying the safe working conditions of their crews, as this has become an emergent issue. All of our activities build on the foundation that more visibility into activities and effort at sea help inform better decisions around resource utilization and behavioral interventions.
One of the most important lessons we’ve learned in the past 5 years working on the ground is that if a system is observed as not broken by its participants, it will not change. The remedies must be delivered to the people who observe problems because no one has the luxury to think about the larger system efficiency. Fewer, well-thought-out interventions are far better than many trial-and-error type efforts.
Indonesia’s eastern archipelago is part of Southeast Asia’s Coral Triangle, the world’s most bio-diverse marine ecosystem. It is a gem to be preserved. Together, North Atlantic Inc. (NAI) and PT Bali Seafood International (BSI) are part of a network of organizations invested in the health of the region. Our market informed fisheries evolution model continues to change the conversation of how sustainability can be achieved, producing the enduring results the region not only seeks, but desperately needs.
We’ve re-imagined sustainability with an emphasis on changing fishers' behavior in the water. It means transparent traceability that makes the task of comprehensive data collection easy for all vessels. It means actually incentivizing fishers to use catch methods that minimize the landing of spawning and immature fish, which supports stock regeneration and reduces over-fishing of the valuable resource. And it means incorporating these strategies into the community-based fisheries management plans of the empowered communities.
Our business was recognized as a 2020 finalist in Seafood Source’s Top 25 list highlighting sustainability-minded seafood suppliers transforming the North American industry.