The swim bladder (also called air bladder ) is an internal gas-filled organ possessed by most bony fish that enabling the fish to maintain its depth without floating upward or sinking. The swim bladder is located in the body cavity. Dried fish bladder looks white and puffy, similar like crackers, and can be about the size of a palm or bigger, depend on the size of the fish. Swim bladder is a good source of collagen and used for medical and cosmetic products. It can potentially be used as biological dressing in medical surgery.
The high price and strong market demand of swim bladder has driven the fishermen in Sidomakmur Village – Aroba District, Bintuni Bay, West Papua, to mainly catch conggek fish (Protonibea diacanthu). The conggek swim bladder is not only marketed in Indonesia but also abroad, with the biggest one is China. The swim bladder is a well-known Chinese delicacy, commonly used as an ingredient in soup. They also believe it can cure some ailments, increase stamina and vitality.
Dried swim bladder can sell as much as Rp 1,650,000 per ounce for female fish, and Rp 2,700,000 per ounce for the male fish. It depends on the size and quality of the product. At first glance, it is hard to believe that this thing is like a luxury and valuable item that can cost millions of rupiahs. Because of the high price, it isn’t a surprised that it led to overfishing, thus caused the number of conggek fish are in decline significantly. Many fishermen, especially in Sidomakmur area, still continuously try to catch conggek fish, eventhough nowadays they only get two or three fishes after sailing in the sea for five or six days. The catching area also farther than before. They have to spend more money to buy fuels and other supplies.
Given the serious circumstances surrounding Conggek fish, it is vital to improve the fishing method to stop the decimation of conggek population. The USAID SEA Project together with implementing partner, WWF-Indonesia, try to tackle this issue by reviving the traditional community-based fisheries management in Bintuni Bay. There are seven Indigenous Peoples Group live around Bintuni Bay, namely Kuri, Wamesa, Sough, Irarutu, Sebyar, Moskona, and Sumuri. These seven major groups play vital roles to establish and implement the traditional community-based fisheries management. Hopefully, they are able to manage the conservation area of 66,921 ha which allocated in West Papua Province’s Zoning Plan for Coastal Area and Small Islands. Through the traditional management practices, including the use of local institutions to provide leaders/stewardship and rules for social regulation and the internalization of local culture in marine resource management practice, these Indigenous People will help secure fish population, including conggek fish, as well as to prevent further ecosystem destruction around Bintuni Bay waters.
There are several activities carried out from this program, including the basic conservation knowledge workshop, community surveillance system training, public awareness on how to implement non IUU fishing, and monitoring the coral reefs condition training. The implementation of the customary law in this area is an added value to the sustainable fisheries management concept.
Writer : Alfian Trendy Apriyanto and Vava Fatchurochman / WWF Indonesia
Editor: Dinastiar Adhi Fitri / USAID SEA