Conservation Is Our Government Now. Paige West. The Anthropology of Extinction. Genese Marie Sodikoff. Maznah Mohamad. Placing Animals. Julie Urbanik. Nature Unbound. Dan Brockington. Culture and the Question of Rights. Charles Zerner. The Peoples of Southeast Asia Today. Robert L. Sonia C. Everyday Life in Southeast Asia. The Indian Ocean Tsunami. Pradyumna P. Dispossession and the Environment. How Chiefs Became Kings. Patrick Vinton Kirch. People, Plants, and Justice. Living with Environmental Change.
Kirsten Hastrup. Indigenous Enviromental Knowledge and its Transformations. Alan Bicker. The Seeds We Planted. Noelani Goodyear-Ka'opua. Dennis Bergot. Managing Cultural Landscapes. Ken Taylor. The Ambiguous Allure of the West. Hong Kong University Press. Reimagining Political Ecology. Aletta Biersack.
Political Ecology of Tourism. Mary Mostafanezhad. Alchemy in the Rain Forest. Jerry K. Modernity and Malaysia. Alberto Gomes. Science and Sensibility. Michael Vincent McGinnis. Envisioning Eden. Noel B. Landscape, Process and Power. Serena Heckler. Water Worlds: Human Geographies of the Ocean. Jon Anderson. From Equality to Inequality. Table S1 lists a range of commercially relevant trepang species mentioned in the literature between and The references cited in the supplementary tables are listed in Supplementary Text S1.
While the species definitely played a role in determining the locally distinguished variety, the size of the animal and the skills used in processing were also important . Thus, diverse colloquial names referred to the same species, whose value could differ widely. The most expensive was the already mentioned trepang pasir from the Spermonde Archipelago near Makassar. Part of its high quality was due to the skilful way in which the product was prepared by the Bajau there .
According to VOC sources, in the second half of the 18 th century one pikul of this variety was worth At the same time, a pikul of rice cost about 1. The most fascinating and also comparatively well-known part of the Makassarese trepang fishery is its extension towards the northern coasts of Australia.
Because there is not much to add to his work, we will be rather brief here, and refer readers to his magnificent and detailed descriptions  , . Lion  reported about activities at various locations at the east coast of Queensland, but this was apparently based on a misreading of earlier sources .
The British hydrogeographer Alexander Dalrymple was the first who, in , reported about Bugis in Australia . Some 30 years later, in February , the navigator Matthew Flinders surveyed the north-eastern part of Arnhem Land. To him we owe him the first detailed description of trepanging in Australian waters:. Under the nearest island was perceived a canoe full of men; and in a sort of roadsted, at the south of the same island, there were six vessels covered over like hulks, as if laid up for the bad season.
As is turned out, the vessels came from Makassar.
They were part of a fleet which each year-using the north-west monsoon starting in December—travelled along the coast of northern Australia in search for trepang. They were equipped with all necessities to build small camps close to the shore, where they also erected smokehouses for the preparation of trepang.
The majorities of supplies were brought from Makassar; including tobacco and other commodities for Aboriginal people who were to a small extent also employed. Only firewood for smoke-drying was gathered from mangroves in the area. Depending on the wind, about 10—15 days were needed for the 1, km from Makassar to Marege. Each year, up to men made the journey and were temporarily scattered in processing camps between the Cobourg Peninsula and the bottom of the Golf of Carpentaria. They mainly gathered grey trepang , also described as chalk fish or white trepang. While this variety was not the most valuable, it still fetched a reasonable price and was available in great quantities.
According to contemporary sources, trepang Marege and trepang Kayu Jawa became distinguished varieties in the market, and the commercial success of the trepangers depended on their ability to transform the abundant chalk fish into trepang Marege or trepang Kayu Jawa . When the wind changed in about April, the vessels returned to Makassar. Their average cargoes varied from 8. Macknight  assumed a total production of some tons per season in the first half of the nineteenth century, which seemed to have slightly decreased later.
According to Macknight  ,  , Sutherland  and Boomgaard  , the Makassan activities in Australia did last from at least to —, when the South Australian government decided to stop trepanging in its waters. The political decision to curtail the Makassarese trepang industry in Australia did not only end the annual voyages between Makassar and Marege; it also stopped a cultural exchange that was certainly older than the earliest European contacts with the continent and that has been preserved in the form of rock and bark paintings left behind by 19 th and early 20 th century aboriginal Australians .
When considering the amounts of sea cucumbers that were collected, it seems implausible that overfishing did not take place at least in some locations. As a matter of fact, a number of sources do contain descriptions which can be interpreted as more or less obvious signs of early overfishing. Knaap and Sutherland  depict that when trepang became the most important commodity in Makassar at the end of the eighteenth century, a shift to more distant fishing grounds took place.
This continuously growing demand also becomes obvious from the amounts exported from Makassar shown in Table 1. An explicit account of local overfishing was given by Bosscher  , who remarked that in the islands of Aru, people would gather trepang at the same sand bank until the stock seemed to have been depleted. Polunin  reported about a general decline in trepang trade between —, without mentioning the original sources of his information. Similarly, Vosmaer [—] describes a significant decline in trade in Makassar in the s, but relates this to the politico-economic situation in the Archipelago at the time rather than ecological causes see also .
Interestingly, the first steps to regulate the overexploitation of pearl-oysters were undertaken by the Dutch colonial government at the same time, indicating that depletion of marine resources actually was a concern at that time. Shortly afterwards, a new harvesting technique was adopted along the Australian coasts: dredging. Fishing for sea cucumbers became more effective.
However, the more or less stable level of trepang exported from the region over a long time seems to confirm that overfishing, if it occurred, was probably a temporary problem of a limited area that was fished out for the year, but replenished before the next . On the other hand, Macknight  also reported that the large quantities produced in the Queensland Coast and Torres Strait could not be maintained after the s.
From the few sources available, it seems fair to assume that some overfishing did occur, but was restricted to certain locations and limited periods of time. Sufficient recruitment was obviously still possible, and species which occurred in greater depths were yet out of reach. The scattered information does not allow more detailed reasoning including an answer to the question if the changing spatial exploitation patterns were indeed a result of stock depletion or rather driven by competition.
However, it should be kept in mind that historical overfishing could have gone largely unnoticed, especially for resources which had virtually no value outside the Asian markets. As discussed above, although considerable amounts of sea cucumbers have been harvested for centuries in some localities, ecological overfishing historically did not appear to pose a major threat since harvest was confined to comparatively shallow depths.
Larger individuals occurring at greater depths possibly provided a pool of individuals that could replenish the population once it was depleted in shallow waters . This situation changed towards the end of the 20 th century, when populations collapsed in many places because so many people took part in collecting. The age-old movement of certain groups of collectors from reef to reef accelerated as prices rose and stocks of certain species were quickly depleted in one area after another .
Also, new technology enabled far more efficient harvesting. In the s and s, increasing demand from China and other parts of the world revived the trepang fishing activities  see Table S2 in the supplementary material.
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Collectors in the Spermonde Archipelago began to make use of compressor diving to reach ever greater depths . Consequently, a rapid decline in sea cucumbers was observed. While large specimens were still common on sandy bottoms deeper than 20 m in the s, several species were rigorously depleted only a decade later . Nowadays, most of the fishermen in Spermonde report that they travel large distances, e. A study recently published by FAO  shows a similar situation for the major trepang areas worldwide, all of which are under intense harvesting pressure.
With most of the more valuable species fully exploited or overexploited, fisheries have moved from low quantity-high value to high quantities-low value ventures, and also evolved from single-species to multispecies fisheries. This is certainly not true for the Makassan trepanging activities, which look back to a long tradition of at least years.
The report does show, however, that the ever increasing demand in the twentieth century led to an expansion of sea cucumber fishing into virtually all suitable areas, and also enabled a far greater number of people to participate than those traditionally being involved. While the social systems linked to trepang fishing and trade have intensively been researched, the ecological effects of removing a large number of bioturbating organisms from shallow tropical ecosystems for the most part are still unknown .
A study on the recovery of H. Model calculations have shown that the natural population of two sea cucumber species on a reef flat in the Great Barrier Reef potentially could rework the upper 5 mm of the sediment in the area within one year, thereby recycling nutrients within the sediment . Thus, they play an important role in controlling the benthic microenvironment  — . While more information is urgently needed, it seems highly unlikely that the depletion of a species that used to be a basic component of coral reef ecosystems should have no effects on the structure and functioning of these systems.
Certain regions in maritime Southeast Asia still largely depend on resources taken from the sea. Besides traditionally harvested commodities such as pearls, mother-of-pearl or shark fins, a number of new products have entered the market over the last decades, such as live food fish or ornamentals. While the exploitation of sea cucumbers is quite unique in its magnitude and in the role which certain ethnicities used to play in the trade, it also shares a number of similarities with more recent exploitation patterns of other resources.
A common feature is their exclusive destination for markets outside the country of origin. Thus, utilization changes according to international demands, and the goods flow through a shifting hierarchy of middlemen and other traders. In regions such as South Sulawesi, the role of patrons or punggawas is central in the market chain.
Primary resource collectors can therefore hardly choose what to fish. They are bound to their punggawa by debts and have to adapt their exploitation strategies accordingly. While punggawas specialize in certain commodities, their clients do so as well. This has led to spatially differing exploitation patterns between locations: In the Spermonde Archipelago, some islands are known for their live food fishing activities, while others utilize ornamental fish and corals or trepang own observations.
Roving bandits profit from the de facto open access nature of marine resources in many areas, where property rights are not defined or secured. Such roving collectors are thought to have no incentive for the local conservation of resources. As they are dependent on the future existence of their local resources, stationary users are hypothesized to have a vested interest in the maintenance of these resources .
However, in the marine realm, there are examples where mobility is used as a strategy to conserve resources: regular travels by Bajau to areas off their all-day fishing grounds were also a traditional strategy to avoid local overexploitation .
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Ending such practises would therefore even increase overexploitation in some areas. This strengthens the demand for spatial and temporal flexibility in the management of marine resources. More flexible regulations may help to include local communities in conservation measures, which in turn increases their effectiveness .
For centuries, trepang has played an important role in the economic development of maritime Southeast Asia. It laid the foundations for a complex web of relationships, integrating scattered seafaring populations into long distance trade, and intensifying the commercial possibilities of outlying regions.
While trepang fishing shares a number of similarities with the exploitation of other marine resources, such as 1 a strong influence of international markets, 2 the role of patron-client-relationships and 3 the roving bandit syndrome, there is also a major difference: its longevity. For years, trepang remained a major export commodity in island Southeast Asia.
Fishing for live food fish such as grouper has a history of less than 30 years. After half of that time, some waters including Riau and the Spermonde Archipelago were already fished out. In order to obtain reasonable catches, divers based in these islands must now roam further away, e. Additionally, fashion is extremely important and plays a major role in determining a fish's desirability. Like any fashion-driven preference, preferred species of live reef fish tend to change with time . Thus, when a species is fished out, or simply drops in demand, new sorts will be targeted.
In a way, the modern form of trepang fishery, utilizing compressor diving and reaching to ever-increasing depths, is a novel activity more similar to other emerging marine fisheries, and should be distinguished from the century-old practise of collection in shallow waters. Another major difference is the existence of certain management structures. Trepang fishing in some areas led to the development of property rights which determined the right to capture sea cucumbers. Harvest restrictions were implemented by temporal closures of collection areas, the so-called sasi teripang , and local overexploitation was avoided by travelling to other areas.
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Such institutions are completely absent for more recently exploited resources, and also for trepanging in its modern way. Alternative management forms have to be created, such as pro-active management plans beyond the periphery of presently exploited areas . Thus, understanding the similarities and differences between historical and recent exploitation of marine resources, as is currently being attempted by several authors in the frame of the History of Marine Animal Populations HMAP project, constitutes an important step towards finding sustainable solutions for the emerging problems.
This article draws on an extensive analysis of historical documents and a number of secondary sources. The historical information was complemented with empirical findings from field visits to Makassar and the Spermonde Archipelago between August and January References for Tables S1 — S2. Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.
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The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. National Center for Biotechnology Information , U. PLoS One. Published online Jun Sebastian C. Sharyn Jane Goldstien, Editor. Author information Article notes Copyright and License information Disclaimer. Received Mar 5; Accepted May This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are properly credited.
This article has been cited by other articles in PMC. Associated Data Supplementary Materials Table S1: Commercially relevant trepang varieties with their local and scientific names.
Table S2: Makassarese trepang export and production from — Abstract The Malayan term trepang describes a variety of edible holothurians commonly known as sea cucumbers. Introduction Living in a trader's house everything is brought to me as well as to the rest—bundles of smoked tripang, or beche de mer, looking like sausages which have been rolled in mud and then thrown up the chimney… Alfred Russel Wallace  The term trepang derives from the Malayan word teripang and describes a range of edible holothurians commonly known as sea cucumbers.
Results The growth of the trade While some authors stated that sea cucumbers have been harvested for over years in the Indo-Pacific region [26 and references therein], documented evidence is only available for the last years. Open in a separate window. Figure 1. Map of Indonesia, showing important trepang collection areas. The roman numbers refer to passages in the text. Table 1 Annual trepang exports from Makassar — Off to new territories—the voyage to Marege The most fascinating and also comparatively well-known part of the Makassarese trepang fishery is its extension towards the northern coasts of Australia.
Early signs of overfishing When considering the amounts of sea cucumbers that were collected, it seems implausible that overfishing did not take place at least in some locations. Industrialisation and recent overfishing As discussed above, although considerable amounts of sea cucumbers have been harvested for centuries in some localities, ecological overfishing historically did not appear to pose a major threat since harvest was confined to comparatively shallow depths.
Potential effects on ecosystems While the social systems linked to trepang fishing and trade have intensively been researched, the ecological effects of removing a large number of bioturbating organisms from shallow tropical ecosystems for the most part are still unknown . Comparison with other marine resources and management implications Certain regions in maritime Southeast Asia still largely depend on resources taken from the sea. Discussion For centuries, trepang has played an important role in the economic development of maritime Southeast Asia.
Materials and Methods This article draws on an extensive analysis of historical documents and a number of secondary sources. Supporting Information Table S1 Commercially relevant trepang varieties with their local and scientific names. Table S2 Makassarese trepang export and production from — Footnotes Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist. References 1. Wallace AR.
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