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Jakarta Post

Prolonged dry season kills thousands of fish, trees

Ganug Nugroho Adi
Wonogiri, Central Java   ●   Sat, November 7, 2015

The current prolonged dry season has killed thousands of fish in reservoirs in Central Java and clove and nutmeg trees in North Maluku.

Fish farmers at the Gajah Mungkur reservoir in Wonogiri regency and the Kedung Ombo reservoir in Sragen regency claimed to have suffered hundreds of million in losses as thousands of nila fish (a tilapia species) died in their karamba (netted frames floated in the reservoirs) due to the long dry season.

'€œThe karamba nets have reached the bottom of the reservoirs. They should normally be floating. The increasing temperature has caused the death of the fish,'€ said Daryanto, one of the farmers at the Gajah Mungkur reservoir, on Friday.

The 47-year-old said the temperature was unusually hot, with no rain having fallen since the beginning of this month.

He said many farmers also brought in their harvest, although the fish had only aged 3 to 4 months and reached an average weight of 400 grams, far from the ideal 600 grams at 5 to 6 months of age.

'€œUsually a kilogram consists of three or four fish. Now, a kilogram consists of seven to eight fish. I am selling my fish to avoid more losses,'€ he added.

He said there were 15 groups of farmers at the Gajah Mungkur reservoir, each group consisting of 30 farmers that manage three to five karamba.

Another farmer, Agus Waluyo, 43, shared a similar experience, saying that he had suffered Rp 5 million (US$357) in losses.

'€œA lot of fish have died. Everyday, an average 100 fish die in the karamba. You can calculate the total,'€ said Agus.

He estimated the farmers at the reservoir suffered combined losses of Rp 200 million due to the prolonged dry season.

Separately, the head of the Wonogiri Husbandry, Fishing and Maritime Agency, Heru Sutopo, said the water level in the Gajah Mungkur reservoir had dropped to four meters.

'€œBut in the center of the reservoir, the water is still deep. Some farmers have moved their karamba into the center,'€ Heru said.

He advised the farmers to harvest their fish in the current hot temperature to avoid the death of the animals, even though the price had plunged.

The water level at the Kedung Ombo reservoir has also dropped sharply.

'€œThis current dry season is worse than in previous years. Karambas were stuck at the bottom of the reservoir, causing many fish to die,'€ Supardi, 54, said.

He said early harvest was the only way to avoid further losses, as well as moving the karamba into the center of the reservoir.

Meanwhile in North Maluku, thousands of clove and nutmeg trees have reportedly dried out and died.

North Maluku'€™s Indonesia Spice Council head Syamsir Andili said on Thursday that most of the affected trees were located in stony highlands where there was a lack of water resources.

Syamsir said the trees had died because the area had seen no rain for three months.

He called on the government to help clove and nutmeg farmers to ease their hardship, such as by providing working capital.

Meanwhile, the head of the province'€™s Agriculture Agency, Munawar Yalo, admitted that his agency had received information on the drying out of thousands of clove and nutmeg trees in the regencies due to prolonged dryness.

Yalo said the administration would help farmers, but was still discussing the forms of assistance to provide.

'€œNow, it'€™s the final year of the budget, so the assistance could only be given next year, and it should be discussed first with the legislative council,'€ Yalo was quoted by Antara in Ternate.