Pulau Bisa is a small island located in South Halmahera, a regency in the North Maluku Province. North Maluku Islands were originally called the “Spice Islands”, being the sole source of cloves in the 16th and 17th century which resulted in disputes between the Dutch, Spanish and Portuguese for control over the trade of that lucrative spice. Since the clove trees were replanted elsewhere in the world, North Maluku’s international importance was greatly reduced. However, the province covered in luscious rainforest which has largely remained untouched, making it a unique eco-region. It is home to unique endemic mammals such as such as the masked flying fox and over 200 species of birds can be found there.
The Handline Tuna Fishery
Pulau Bisa is home to an artisanal handline tuna fishery. Most days, fishermen embark on their small colored wooden boats in the early morning hours and motor to their fishing grounds, a few miles offshore. Fishermen usually travel as a group, mainly for safety reasons but also to help each other. Using a single hook, attached to a single line, fishermen wait patiently until the a large Yellowfin tuna gets caught on the hook. Sounds easy? Not really! Fishermen usually learn from their fathers and grandfathers where the good fishing grounds are depending on the fishing season, how not to lose the tuna once hooked on the line and finally how to take care of the catch in a way that maximizes freshness and quality. The catch is then quickly brought back on-land for processing and export.
Fishery Improvement Project
With the support of Fishing & Living, the fishermen from Pulau Bisa are in a Fishery Improvement Project that aims to achieve MSC certification through gradual improvements in the fishery’s management practices and improved data collection. Indeed, due to the remoteness of the island, data on how much fishermen are catching and what species has been limited. This data is essential to ensure sustainable management of the fishery. Fishing & Living therefore supports on the ground efforts to collect that information and make it accessible to the relevant fisheries management authorities.
For more information, please visit fishing-living.org