en wida featured campaign

ask. don't tell
building a fish kingdom in triton bay
Ask. Don’t Tell Building a fish kingdom in Triton Bay

Rare Fellow Wida Sulistyaningrum never imagined she could change the fate of coastal Indonesian fishing villages. She and her colleagues at Conservation International (CI) had been working for years to help communities embrace sustainable fishing behaviors. The sea grasses, mangroves and reefs there harbor important fish breeding grounds as well as the enigmatic Bryde’s whales. Overfishing not only threatened the ecological health of the area, but the livelihoods of communities dependent on fish for food and income. Rare partnered with CI and helped Wida approach the community in a new way.

barriers to change

Few fishers and their families understood the long-term consequences of overfishing. Industrial fishing vessels often paid their way into the coastal waters. The communities of Triton Bay did not trust each other, but especially frowned upon interventions from foreign nonprofits. To earn their trust and help reverse destructive fishing trends Wida — an Indonesian — ate with them, listened to them, learned from them. She led and facilitated village workshops that fostered collaboration, rather than dictating prescribed, top-down plans. She asked them questions about their realities and concerns rather than telling them what to do. They became owners and implementers of the solution.

against the odds: agreement

Wida talked with the people of Triton Bay about the benefits of establishing no-fishing areas where fish stocks replenish. She suggested they establish one to test its benefits. After a series of meetings and events, the community asked to close off four areas to fishing. “It was a big surprise,” says Wida. “That is the biggest success of my campaign.”

The [fishery replenishment zone] declarations in Triton Bay are the direct result of the Rare campaign conducted by Wida Sulistyaningrum.”

Mark Erdmann, CI’s senior advisor for Indonesia’s marine program

promoting sustainable behaviors

To ensure enforcement of the zones and community support for the declarations, Wida inspired the people of Triton Bay to find pride in their natural resources through a Pride campaign with targeted marketing materials and events.

  • mascotslide788x591.jpg

    The campaign mascots, the Bryde’s whale and red snapper, captured the community’s heart and taught them that they protect their own species, their pride and their heritage.

    Photo: Djuna Ivereigh

  • schoolchildrenslide788x591.jpg

    She gave schoolchildren their first crayons to draw a seascape mural. School children are not only the next generation of fishers in the community, but powerful influencers for their parents and families.

    Photo: Djuna Ivereigh

  • cookingslide788x591.jpg

    She organized a traditional cooking contest for women.

    Photo: Djuna Ivereigh

  • soccermatchslide788x591.jpg

    Every single community member turned up for a campaign-themed soccer match.

    Photo: Djuna Ivereigh

  • tshirtslide788x591.jpg

    She distributed 400 campaign T-shirts that were seen by 87 percent of her target audience and used as the soccer uniform.

    Photo: Djuna Ivereigh

  • posterslide788x591.jpg

    Wida created a simple slogan, “Abundant our fish, prosperous our life” and designed posters to spread the message. Community members posted them in central locations and in almost every fisher’s home.

    Photo: Djuna Ivereigh

  • signsslide788x591.jpg

    Community members constructed and strategically placed signs showing the locations of the fishery recovery zones as soon as they were declared.

    Photo: Djuna Ivereigh

  • patrolingslide788x591.jpg

    Wida and local fishers established a patrolling and enforcement system comprised of members from each participating village. They have a special boat, uniforms, communication tools and a guardhouse.

    Photo: Djuna Ivereigh


Rare gave me the skills and tools to approach the community in a fun way.”

Rare Fellow Wida Sulistyaningrum
change that lasts
4 fishery replenishment zones established
fishery replenishment zones established
73 percentage point average increase in knowledge about the zones
percentage point average increase in knowledge about the zones
35 percent decline in fishers entering three of the zones
percent decline in fishers entering three of the zones

benefits for people and nature

Adrianus Kamaula, a local leader, used to collect fees for access to
village waters. Now he refuses boat entry into the fishery replenishment
zone at any price. He wants to ensure enough fish for future generations,
says Wida. A longstanding tenure system gives him exclusive fishing
rights within the community waters; so he personally sees a benefit to
enforcement and ensuring ecological health

a future with fish

“I hope Triton Bay becomes a fish kingdom,” says Wida. She wants the people to continue living according to local traditions and feed themselves from the sea. An elderly fisher approached Wida and excitedly told her, “Ma’am, last week we had lots of fish near the village. That hasn’t happened in a long time.”