Fish Spawning Aggregations: A Reef Resilience Toolkit Module

Sumatra, Indonesia

Sumatra location


Aceh region, Sumatra


Situated off the northern tip of Sumatra, Indonesia, the reefs of Weh and Aceh islands host a high diversity and variety of marine endemic species. Reefs surrounding the islands are subject to prevailing winds and currents. Marine habitats in northern Aceh are managed by a government tourism conservation area (Kawasan Wisata; 207 ha), a traditional Acehnese management area (Panglima Laot; 206 ha) and many lie outside managed areas (>1000 ha) on Weh Island and Aceh Islands (Campbell et al. 2009). The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) is working with local governments and communities to adopt sustainable marine resource practices and innovative management initiatives that will benefit local resource users and help rebuild local communities.

The primary conservation goal in Aceh is to improve both the effectiveness of coral reef management and the condition of coral reef resources themselves. WCS’s Conservation strategies in the Aceh region include:

Snapper. Photo © Yudi Herdiana

To gather some of the first comprehensive data on FSAs in the Aceh region, a project was initiated by IUCN and CORDIO in collaboration with WCS Indonesia and local institutions. The aim was to provide vital information on spawning areas that can support further research on reef fish population dynamics and reef resilience, as well as strengthen management of coral reefs and reef resources. The objectives of the project were to:

  1. Determine which reef fish species form spawning aggregations;
  2. Determine the specific sites of aggregation formation;
  3. Determine the seasonal patterns in spawning aggregations by species;
  4. Determine the level of awareness of spawning aggregations and status of stocks of those species among fishers;
  5. Sensitize fishers and marine resource personnel in South Asia on reef fish spawning aggregations and their implications to conservation and sustainable fisheries; and
  6. Provide recommendations for the protection and management of sites of spawning aggregations.

To reach the above objectives, interview surveys were conducted among fishing communities on the island of Weh in northern Aceh. A total of 60 fishers from 7 districts on Weh island were interviewed. Forty seven species of fish were mentioned by fishers as forming possible spawning aggregations. Of the 47 species mentioned by respondents, six species of fish were highly likely to form spawning aggregations in marine waters of Weh Island. The six species include: Bolbometopoton muricatum (Scaridae: Bumpheaded parrotfish), Cepahpholis miniata (Serranidae: Coral grouper) Variola louti (Serranidae: Yellow Edged Lyretail), Cheilinus undulatas (Labridae: Napoleon wrasse), Thunnus albacares (Yellow fin tuna) and Caranx lugubris (Carangidae: Black Jack Trevally).

Results of the community interviews indicate that many fishers possess reliable knowledge of spawning areas, species and times. Possible FSAs were reported from a number of areas on Weh Island inside and outside protected areas. Based on the surveys the following recommendations have been made:

Lessons Learned

Trevally fish. Photo © Stuart Campbell

Lead Organization





Campbell et al. 2008a. Reef Fish Spawning Aggregations in Aceh, Sumatra: Local Knowledge of Occurrence and Status (download pdf, 320k)

Campbell et al. 2008b. Fishing Controls, Habitat Protection and Reef Fish Conservation in Aceh (download pdf, 640k)


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