Note: This blog post originated on RarePlanet, our online community inspiring conservation. It was written by Conservation Fellow Rosita Tariola and translated.
The community’s role in maintaining a healthy sea is best explained by a children’s game of cat and mouse. That is why I have been using this game with adults, fathers, fishermen, housewives and children alike to explain how no-take zones (NTZs) can help maintain their fisheries. The game is a simulation of the relationship between rogue fishermen, fish and townspeople.
It is both educational and lots of fun. There is no sense of awkwardness when we play these games, these people live to play. The atmosphere here is HEBOH! Exciting!
While this game is lots of fun, it has several important objectives. Through the game, participants will come to understand the impact of destructive fishing activity on their limited resources. They will see firsthand what their role is in maintaining existing natural resources, and what happens if violations go unpunished. Most importantly the participants will understand the potential benefits of a well run no-take zone.
The game will begin with everyone standing in a large circle. For the purpose of this game, the mice will become the fish and the cats the fishermen. Three fishermen will be chosen from the group and given red head bands, and six fish will be chosen from the group and given a blue headband.
The rest of the participants will become townspeople. There are three rounds in the game, each showing the increased benefit of community activism in no-take zone.
Round 1: Fish are inside the big circle and fishermen are outside of the circle. The townspeople make the big circle, and stand with crossed arms, to represent the society’s attitude towards the threats against their own resources. As soon as the facilitator commands “start!” the fishermen will try to catch the fish in a game of tag, who when caught are metaphorically put in baske and play stuck in the mud. The facilitator will time how long it takes to catch all of the fish. At the end of the round, I will ask the following questions: How quickly did the fish run out? What is the reason? How does it feel to be a community participant when he saw it?
Round 2: This round will have same set up with three fishermen and six fish. But this time, the townspeople are allowed to make a stand. Hand in hand they can prevent the rogue fishermen, who are not accountable for overfishing from entering the circle by blocking entrance to the inside of the circle. Now the fish will be safer in the circle, and fishermen will have to exert all their effort to capture the fish. When all the fish are finally caught, the facilitator should record the time again. Round two will be followed up by questions: What happens to the fish in the second round? Why should communities join hands to protect their own region? Why did it take longer for the fishermen to catch all the fish in the second round?
Round 3: In this round, the set up is the same as the third round, but with a new element. Within the large circle is a small circle, which represents the NTZ. Any fish that goes inside the zone cannot be caught, and they will feel safe. The facilitator should time how long it takes for all the fish to be caught or end the game when all fish are inside the NTZ. The third round should be ended with follow up with these questions: What happened in round three? Why would the fish not come out of the circle? What is the function of the small circle and what is its potential benefit for the community if these fish are comfortable in the NTZ’s? What is the role of local communities in protecting their own waters? What action do we want to take to protect the sea where we find food?
Having completed the discussion and answer questions, the game is finished. Good luck my friends ^ _ ^
Rosita’s Rare Pride campaign is working to conserve marine biodiversity by ensuring community support for the Dampier Strait Aquatic Conservation Area. This campaign is part of Rare’s Program for Sustainable Fishing. Rare and its partners are working to establish marine protected areas in Central Java that will include clearly marked no-take zones called core zones in which fisheries can repopulate. They also aim to change fishing practices towards more sustainable and marine friendly tactics, which will maintain the Javanese fishing tradition without ruining its fisheries.
Below are photos from the exercise: