Fishermen’s mangrove eco-tourism initiatives

For the fishermen’s group of Wanasari in Tuban district, Denpasar, eco-tourism activities at the Suwung mangrove forest have begun enlivening their hopes of a better livelihood. “Eco-tourism in this mangrove forest has great potential for us fishermen to improve our livelihoods. The sea has not been providing much lately,” I Made Sumasa, coordinator of the Wanasari fishermen’s group, said recently. Since the construction of the elevated toll road running over the sea started, many of the group’s 90 fishermen have been facing difficulties catching enough fish to earn a living.

Thus, they have had to think of different way to earn money for their survival. Eco-tourism seems to be the answer. The group is offering a number of tourism packages in the mangrove forest, such as mangrove planting and seeding, crab cultivation, trekking and a boat tour around the forest. Recently, the group has happily welcomed a handful of visitors who are interested in mangrove eco-tourism. So far, the group has built a 1-meter wide and 250-meter long wooden footpath. They plan a much longer path, though, as long as 2.5 kilometers to circle around the mangrove forest.

If they manage to complete this path, it would serve as the longest mangrove trek in Bali. Earlier this year, two wood and bamboo gazebos were built over the water, about 30 to 50 meters away from the almost completed elevated toll road. Amid the dense mangrove forest, a couple of crab ponds are also being built. “We are selling these mangrove crabs to the nearest restaurant,” Agus said, adding that he planned to develop a restaurant specializing in mangrove crab dishes for hungry visitors. The fishermen are cultivating five different types of the brown and black crabs.

The headquarters of the Wanasari fishermen’s group is hidden from sight, located just before the traffic lights on the left side of the busy Jl. Bypass Ngurah Rai heading to Ngurah Rai International Airport. A narrow street, just wide enough for one car, brings visitors to a bamboo gate. Nearby, a brown mangrove crab statue stands as a welcome. A sign at the gate states “Community Development of Mangrove Ecotourism, Wanasari Fishermen Group”. The construction workers for Bali’s first toll road often rest at a small food stall nearby.

The fishermen’s group has a small stand next to the stall, where you can ask further information about the mangrove eco-tourism. This hidden treasure offers not only a cool breeze off the mangrove forest but also the fascinating view of the elevated toll road being constructed and the airplanes taking off and touching down at Ngurah Rai airport, just a stone’s throw from the site.

source : bali daily

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