The Economic Value of the Payung Island Protected Area for the Sungsang Fishing Community
Payung Island is a small island in the Banyuasin District of South Sumatra that was officially protected in 2014 by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry (Regulation No. 866). Known for its unique mangrove ecosystem, Payung was given protected status because of the vital role the mangroves play in preserving coastal biodiversity throughout the region. But the mangroves do more than just support Payung's many forms of marine life. They also play an essential role in sustaining the Sungsang people, the largest fishing community in the province.
To preserve the Payung ecosystem - and the fishing community that depends on it - the Bayuasin district government implemented a management strategy to regulate the fishing community in 2012. Through district regulation (PERDA Kab. Banyuasin No. 23 Tahun 2012), all fish caught in the region are now sold at a regulated fish market auction. By controlling the market flow, the regulation was intended to address overfishing in the region and conserve Payung's limited natural resources. Unfortunately, Payung island's mangroves are not just endangered by overfishing. Because of the rapid expansion of nearby communities, Payung's mangroves are also increasingly being threatened by pollution and overdevelopment.
Indah Widiastuti is a lecturer in Fisheries Studies and a faculty member of the Fisheries and Marine Sciences and Agribusiness Departments at Sriwijaya University, and one of our 2019-2020 Fisheries Management Area (FMA) 711 Fellows. As a part of her fellowship, Indah analyzed the environmental and social factors affecting Payung Island's delicate mangrove ecosystem and its importance to the survival of the Sungsang community. Through her field research, Indah found extensive evidence of environmental degradation around Payung Island. Ultimately, she was able to link declining fish populations and fish size with the over-exploitation of the mangrove ecosystem from trawl fishing activity. As a result, Indah decided to estimate the economic value of the mangroves to demonstrate their role in protecting important fish populations for the Sungsang community.
With this information, Indah is able to better advise policymakers on how to balance the Sungsang community's developing economic needs with the conservation of the mangroves. Her findings have already had important implications for the future management of the Payung Island protected area. Indah presented her research to local stakeholders in the provincial capital of Palembang at Sriwijaya University. She will continue to use these findings to advise local government officials and other regional stakeholders on how to revise and strengthen their original management strategy for the area.Indah's research will continue to advance efforts by Payung Island's stakeholders to improve marine and fisheries policy in the region and safeguard the future of both Payung Island and the Sungsang community.