Regional Environmental Change

, Volume 14, Issue 6, pp 2053–2065 | Cite as

To cope or to sustain? Eroding long-term sustainability in an Indonesian coral reef fishery

  • Sebastian C. A. Ferse
  • Marion Glaser
  • Muhammad Neil
  • Kathleen Schwerdtner Máñez
Original Article


Small-scale fisheries in coral reef areas support the livelihoods of millions of people worldwide. Anthropogenic impacts such as overfishing and climate change increasingly threaten both the reef ecosystem and the livelihood security of the people that depend on the reefs. Adaptive management strategies are needed to adequately deal with these threats, but they require an understanding of the underlying drivers, which often originate and act on multiple levels. Using a social-ecological system approach, the coral reef fishery of the Spermonde Archipelago in South Sulawesi/Indonesia is assessed to identify key drivers and strategic leverage points for management. Under the influence of international markets and technological changes, several export-oriented fisheries have developed in the area that led to distinct subsequent peaks in fishing activity in a pattern of sequential marine resource exploitation. In response to stressors such as seasonality and overfishing of individual locations or species, a number of coping strategies have developed locally. These include extensive borrowing from fishing patrons, diversification of fishing methods, fishing migrations, and the crafting of local institutions to regulate fishing activity. However, the coping strategies hinder, and even decrease, the capacity of the system to adapt to future stressors and undermine the sustainability of the fishery. Potential strategies that target different levels of the fishery system in order to strengthen adaptive management are identified.


Adaptive capacity Coping strategies Indonesia Precious corals Sea cucumbers Spermonde Archipelago 



This study was carried out within the frame of the bilateral Indonesian-German research program SPICE II (Science for the Protection of Indonesian Coastal Marine Ecosystems) funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF, Grant No. 03F0474A), the Indonesian Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries (KKP) and the Ministry for Research and Technology (RISTEK). The funders had no involvement in study design, data analysis, or publication. We would like to thank the Center for Coral Reef Research (CCRR) at Hasanuddin University in Makassar for their kind support and collaboration, in particular Jamaluddin Jompa, Magdalena Litaay, and Dewi Yanuarita. For help in the field and fruitful discussions, we thank Andi Maddusila, Sainab Husain, Rio Deswandi, Irendra Radjawali, Hawis Madduppa, Georgios Tsounis, Mauly Kasmi, Gesche Krause, Sven Blankenhorn, Björn Vollan, Leyla Knittweis, and the participants of the three research excursions. Comments from two anonymous reviewers helped to significantly improve this manuscript.

Supplementary material

10113_2012_342_MOESM1_ESM.doc (42 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 42 kb)
10113_2012_342_MOESM2_ESM.doc (216 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (DOC 216 kb)
10113_2012_342_MOESM3_ESM.doc (110 kb)
Supplementary material 3 (DOC 109 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sebastian C. A. Ferse
    • 1
  • Marion Glaser
    • 1
  • Muhammad Neil
    • 2
  • Kathleen Schwerdtner Máñez
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Leibniz Center for Tropical Marine Ecology (ZMT)BremenGermany
  2. 2.Department of Anthropology, Social and Political Science FacultyHasanuddin UniversityMakassarIndonesia
  3. 3.Asia Research CenterMurdoch UniversityMurdochAustralia

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