Fish make up a core part of many people’s diets, and among Borneo’s indigenous Dayak communities, fishing is not just a livelihood but the basis for an entire culture. In riverside villages, people of all ages—both men and women; boys and girls—are highly skilled at rowing boats, casting nets, and setting fish traps.
Just a few short generations ago, the water in these rivers flowed more freely, and fish were caught in abundance. Now, though, habitat degradation is affecting the water quality, and the fish are smaller and fewer in number. As a result, some people have started to build cages or support fishponds on the land around their homes.
These ponds provide a viable alternative to river-fishing and help rural communities remain self-sufficient. With this in mind, the Borneo Nature Foundation (BNF) Indonesia is providing community assistance to build fishponds through our sustainable livelihoods programme.
Once built, the ponds are filled with several kinds of fish that would typically be enjoyed wild-caught by community members, including: papuyu/betok (Anabas testudineus), nila (Nile tilapia), patin (Clariidae), lele (Pangasius hypophthalmus), and gurami (Osphronemus gourami).
To date, we have begun implementing fishpond aquaculture in nine villages across four districts:
Bukit Batu District:
- Marang Village: 2 ponds, (3×4 m each)
- Habaring Hurung Village: 1 pond (4×6 m)
- Sabaru Village: 2 ponds (4×4 m and 2×4 m, respectively)
- Kereng Village: 3 floating net ponds (2×4 m each)
Jekan Raya District:
- Bukit Tunggal Village: 1 pond (4×6 m)
- Panjehang Village: 26 ponds
- Petuk Barunai Village: 34 ponds
- Bukit Sua Village: 26 ponds
- Mungku Baru Village: 25 ponds
Bukit Batu District, Sabangau District and Jekan Raya District all joined BNF’s community development projects in 2022, while Rakumpit District will take part from 2023.
Gugus Haringkas, a member of BNF Indonesia’s Sebangau Community Development programme staff, explained that, since the fisheries and agriculture sectors are closely intertwined, BNF Indonesia is also pushing for zero waste practices, such as using the waste from fishponds as a natural fertilizer for plants in backyard vegetable gardens.
“Our intention is for this new integrated management system to set an example for other subdistricts and neighboring villages, improving food security and providing additional sources of income for local families,” he said.
Yuliana Nona, the Rungan Community Development Programme Manager, expressed hopes that the harvest from these ponds will grow to meet household needs, supporting rural communities and modelling success for other villages in the region.
Written by: Yohanes Prahara, Content Creator and Media Liaison BNF Indonesia
Photos by: Joan Prahara/ BNF Indonesia