TDE Background info recap

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As we usher in the new year, we have our darling IYOR2018 intern, Talia Wong, with her second post giving a little bit of a recap on what TDE has done thus far:

The Dorsal Effect

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From giving talks on shark conservation in schools, executing The Dorsal Effect’s eco-business plan, giving pitches to obtain funding for The Dorsal Effect’s operations, collaborating with tertiary institutions i.e. NUS Tembusu College Steer team for reef surveys, organizing and embarking on the largest excursion with ISS international school and engaging the young, local community in Lombok in January and October in 2017; The Dorsal Effect has come a long way since its early days


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Indonesia, a maritime nation, home to at least 17,000 islands and rich marine environments and resources. Indonesia records the highest number of shark species of 111 out of 174 found within Southeast Asian region. For centuries, coastal communities have relied heavily on fishing to provide food, employment and income.

However, with the surging demand for shark fins in Singapore, Hong Kong and mainland China since the 1970s, it provided local fishers another avenue of income and a tempting lucrative opportunity for foreign fishers and businesses to earn the big buck. It comes as no surprise that Indonesia is the number 1 shark-catching country in the world, accounting 13% of total globally reported sharks caught in 2011.


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Type in “Tanjung Luar Fishery” into the Google search bar and you’ll be surprised to find how this isolated local community, geographically located on the eastern coast of Pulau Lombok in the province of West Nusa Tenggara is one of the busiest shark and ray fishing and trading port of the region. Unlike the other ports in Indonesia where sharks are often caught as bycatch, sharks at Tanjung Luar are intentionally hunted and caught.

Accompanied with grotesque, graphic images and news headliners exclaiming declining stocks, illegal fishing of endangered species and an uphill battle to stop shark fishing … Tanjung Luar fish market is a place where no shark – juvenile or adult, endangered, threatened or listed as “no-catch” i.e. thresher sharks by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) – is spared from the onslaught. Kathy witnessed remorseless businessmen circling and inspecting the fins of shark carcasses around 2 metres in length before negotiating a price. Thereafter, the equally desensitised fisherman hacked off and weighed the fins of the dead shark. With the fins highly prized by the international market, 1kg of fin could cost USD600, an exorbitantly inflated price relative to the rest of the carcass which costs USD 1.50 per kilo.

It was not long ago when sharks were mainly caught mainly in central and western regions of Indonesia’s Exclusive Economic Zones. Unfortunately, declining stocks and increasing pressure to meet demands have driven fishermen to fish elsewhere, shifting the “geographical catch frontier” to the eastern seas of Indonesia.

The booming shark industry at Tanjung Luar directly employs fishermen and boat operators; additionally, employment further extends to the fish processing, transportation, marketing and other supporting sectors i.e. boat building, fish gear manufacturing industries. On a good shark fishing season in 2013, captains could earn Rp 20 million (around SGD 2000) a month and the rest of the crew of about 4-5 will receive their portion from another Rp20 million. Evidently, moving away from the fin trade at Tanjung Luar through the implementation of shark fishing bans and changing existing livelihood is unlikely and challenging respectively.

While a National Plan of Action (NPOA) for shark conservation has been developed for Indonesia for 2015-2019, compliance and enforcement on the ground is a whole other ballgame and despite being in place for 2 years, it has not been proven to be effective.

Nonetheless, ground-up initiatives spearheaded by non-governmental organisations such as The Dorsal Effect, Gili Shark Conservation are gaining traction with greater international recognition and support systems. For instance, the international organisation, Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), has been compiling data on shark species in Lombok waters.


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What The Dorsal Effect seeks to achieve requires a readiness from shark fishermen to embrace Lombok’s natural wonders along with the ability to match and perhaps offer a more stable and at least an equivalent amount of income to replace their existing shark fishing income source. With the informed participation of a ground up movement, it will be the first step to making a change here at Tanjung Luar. Already, the tides are gradually starting to turn for this apex marine predator.

Currently, The Dorsal Effect is offering a sustainable and alternate way of life that lets local communities at Tanjung Luar stay connected to the ocean without destroying and destabilizing the ecosystem through responsible ecotourism. This is in line with the Ministry of Tourism’s plans to reform the tourism industry to become the key cornerstone of the country’s economy. Surrounded by beautiful crystal blue waters and ample marine environments, Tanjung Luar shows so much potential in attracting tourists.

With hope and perseverance, gears are moving for the shark community and call it far-fetch, but everyone here at The Dorsal Effect are holding on to the hope that our children will be able to see these graceful, silent predators.


Ali, Ahmad, and Annie Pek Khiok Lim. Field Guide To Sharks Of The Southeast Asian Region. Perpustakaan Negara Malaysia, Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC), 2012,.

Lack, Mary, and Glenn Sant. The Future Of Sharks: A Review Of Action And Inaction. TRAFFIC International (Cambridge, UK) & Pew Environment Group (Washington, D.C.), 2011,

“Ministry Plans To Turn Tourism Into Indonesia’s Leading Sector | Jakarta Globe.” Jakarta Globe, 2017,

Pet, J. S. et al. (Field Report) Part 2: Lombok. Chemonics International & People & Nature Consulting International, 2012, pp. 81-100,.


Tull, Malcolm. “The History Of Shark Fishing In Indonesia.” Historical Perspectives Of Fisheries Exploitation In The Indo-Pacific, vol 12, 2014, pp. 63-81. Springer Netherlands, doi:10.1007/978-94-017-8727-7_4.

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