The project, located off the coast of a southern Indonesian island using innovative systems developed by Mars, Incorporated associates, is meant to provide food security for the local people. This photo, taken in early June 2014, shows the project's underwater progress.
SULAWESI, INDONESIA (June 7, 2014) – Today, Mars, Incorporated is announcing the completion of an extensive coral reef rehabilitation – the latest example of how it supports the communities in which it operates. The privately-owned company has also announced a new marine protected area in the same site, off the island of Pulau Badi in Southern Indonesia, which is 20 kilometers from Makassar, South Sulawesi, where Mars has a cocoa processing factory.
The project was developed by Mars Sustainable Solutions (part of Mars Symbioscience) and built in collaboration with the island community and divers from Mars, Incorporated businesses around the world. This included Associates selected through the Mars Ambassador Program, which gives Associates the chance to impact change through global assignments using their professional expertise and passion.
The reef covers an area of approximately 7000 square meters (over 500 meters long), with over 3000 specially-constructed, innovative structures on which coral fragments grow to rehabilitate the reef and re-establish native fish populations.
The reef and marine protected area will help meet the long-term food security needs of the people of Pulau Badi and provide income opportunities, allowing them to catch fish for lucrative local and international markets.
"I have watched this Mars project over the years and am not aware of anything of this scale. The beauty is that the technology is more easily transferable than other reef projects I've seen. The corals expand very quickly, possibly because the technology is based on a simple structure that does not shade the corals very much or impede water flow around them, enabling them to thrive," said Dr. Susan Williams, professor at the University of California-Davis and its Bodega Marine Laboratory. "Rebuilding the coral reef ecosystem is needed by the local people, but also offers promise to improve the ecological and economic sustainability for the future of the region."
The original coral reef at Pulau Badi, located at the heart of the Coral Triangle, was largely destroyed by previous destructive fishing practices causing a severe shortage of fish as well as erosion of the island itself. As the coral reef habitat is being repaired, many native fish and other marine species are returning. The coral reef is essential to the entire marine ecosystem and a breeding ground for many marine species, becoming the center for natural production of fish.
"It is so gratifying to see the progress we’ve made together – already the coral reef has significantly increased food resources for the people of Pulau Badi and I can see a much brighter future now if the people can protect and manage their new reef sustainably for generations to come," said Noel Janetski, a 33-year Mars, Incorporated Associate, leading the Mars Symbioscience marine sustainability team in Indonesia.
The reef rehabilitation project focuses on rebuilding the ecological foundation of food security for the island. It also trains the people to take care of the reef and the sustainable ecosystem. The system is designed to be built largely by the island people themselves with help from expert divers and provides additional income as Mars pays them to continue the development and maintenance of the project*.
"This work has literally brought back life to the island community and the Badi people, which can serve as a role model for other islands. It is critical to keep the all-important coral reef sustainable and the fish that inhabit it, for food and the livelihoods of our people,” said Muhammad Natsir Sulaiman, Head of Fish and Marine Affair Department of Pangkep. “We thank the Mars team who has been an invaluable partner to the people of Sulawesi and we will work hard to ensure the future of the reef not only survives but flourishes."
The Mars Symbioscience team has been working since 2007 to develop alternate livelihood systems that will help island people restore their coral reef infrastructure and establish new businesses to produce ornamental fish, including captive bred seahorses for the international market. The Mars team has developed independent, family-owned, small-scale captive breeding systems to significantly increase the income of local fishermen and their families. There are now three operational ornamental fish captive breeding businesses on Pulau Badi funded by Mars, and more units are planned. Mars will continue to be involved with the people of Pulau Badi and local government to ensure this work is successful and believes in the potential to transfer the technology to neighboring islands and other areas of the world.