A well-rounded approach
New research will contribute to a more holistic perspective on water quality management and better responses to megacities on the coast.
"I have waded through flood waters, spent days with fishers, and visited their mussel platforms and fishing grounds in an effort to deeply understand the situation," says Amanda Putri who is undertaking her PhD at UNSW Canberra on water pollution in Jakarta Bay and its impacts on the environment and local communities.
Jakarta Bay in Indonesia is probably the most polluted bay in Asia. For decades, scientists have recorded, and the government has sought to manage the fallout from this pollution which includes nasties like hypoxia, seafood contaminations and the all-too-regular incidents of fish and mussel kills. As the declining biodiversity continues to indicate the collapse of ecosystem form and function, the communities of fishers and mussel farmers who live on the Bay are forced to adapt to the changing conditions.
"Investigating trends in water quality is a good place to start, but equally crucial is to look beyond biophysical research and look at the social-economic impacts. Considering the importance of Jakarta Bay for traditional fisheries, we must also take into account the fishing communities' voices to find out how it has affected their activities and livelihood," she continues.
"One fisher described how the mass deaths of fish (or fish kills as they are known), happen at least once a year and how they have had to go further and further off-shore to catch fish. It is a similar story for mussel farmers, who complain about mussel kills and low productivity."
Trends in water quality data for the period of 2001-2003 show a significant decline in dissolved oxygen concentration and increasing turbidity, particularly in the near shore areas of the Bay. Using cluster analysis and spatial models, Putri found that areas of low and high pollutants suggested land-based inputs contribute most to the degradation of water quality and says that specific interventions could help.
I have waded through flood waters, spent days with fishers, and visited their mussel platforms and fishing grounds in an effort to deeply understand the situation.
Amanda Putri, UNSW Canberra PhD Candidate
In addition to working closely with the traditional fishing communities, Putri has interviewed extensively among other major stakeholders including local government agencies; scientists from Jakarta's Environmental Management Agency; researchers from research institutes and universities; and the Division of the Ministry of Marine and Fisheries.
"Contributing actionable solutions is really only possible through understanding how water pollution affects the livelihood of local communities, how they perceive this issue, and how they adapt to the challenges," explains Putri. "Hopefully, my research will help contribute to a more holistic perspective on water quality management and better responses to megacities on the coast."
This research is funded by the Indonesia Endowment Fund for Education (LPDP)
Amanda Putri profile:
Amanda Putri is a PhD student under the supervision of Associate Professor Stuart Pearson at UNSW Canberra. She is undertaking multidisciplinary research about the impacts of water pollution on traditional fisheries in Jakarta, Indonesia. She has previously assisted various research projects with regards to coastal management and community development and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for marine and coastal applications in Indonesia.
She is a member of the Sino-Australian Research Centre for Coastal Management (SARCCM) and is involved in the Coastal and Marine Natural Resources Management: People, Policy, and Practice Program. She is also affiliated with the Sydney Institute for Marine Science (SIMS) through the World Harbour Project.