Murdoch students improving livelihoods above and below the surface

Undergraduate students in Indonesia working on Project Hiu. Students smiling holding their hands like fins on their head.

Murdoch University undergraduate students, alongside Project Hiu, are paving the way for a more sustainable future for sharks, and humans in Indonesia.

75% per cent of sharks have been killed in the last 15 years and this simply isn’t sustainable for the future of our ecosystems.

Led by Murdoch University lecturer Dr David Zhang and project partner Project Hiu, 10 students from Marine Biology and Environmental Science, Wildlife and Conservation Biology, Environmental Management and Sustainability and Laboratory Medicine travelled to Lombok, Indonesia to take part in the transformative research project, made possible through the New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant Program.

The students are designing business proposals and initiatives aimed at protecting sharks by creating profitable, future-proof income streams for shark fisherman, and benefiting the wider community.

Project Coordinator Ms Ella Durand said she is thrilled to see the first group of students travelling to Indonesia for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.Murdoch students on a New Colombo Plan trip to Indonesia

Through engagement with academic and industry experts, as well as Project Hiu crew and the community on Maringkik Island, students will develop strong professional international relationships, conduct valuable research and gain credit towards their degrees while simultaneously enacting real-life impact to Indo-Pacific communities."Project Coordinator Ms Ella Durand 

‘Project Hiu’, Hiu the Indonesian word for Shark, is an initiative that aims to regenerate the most destressed marine eco-systems, by providing alternative incomes to the planet’s largest fleet of shark fishing vessels, and to simultaneously expand its impact and contribution to improving basic human needs.

Project Hiu will look to implement the best research proposal presented by students.

Murdoch students standing in front of hand painted shark mural in Indonesia.

Project Hiu Founder, Madison Stewart (also known as Shark Girl), said the student groups can focus on exploring or expanding an existing business initiative, developing a previous proposal such as, water catchment systems, community garden, shark fishing-line Jewellery, or propose a completely new business idea.

“We’re proud to be playing our part in fostering a new generation of young professionals with experience and commitment to restoring marine eco-systems, and we’re excited to see what innovative ideas the students come up with,” she said.

This project has the potential to have widespread impact in protecting our vulnerable marine life, while also creating better and more sustainable profit streams for communities in Indonesia”.Project Hiu Founder, Madison Stewart (also known as Shark Girl)

Aerial view of Indonesia and one of its islands

“Through this authentic and cross-cultural learning experience, we’re confident we can move forward with a plan that delivers solutions to over 2500 Indonesian fisherman and community members, while also protecting our planet and giving Australian students the opportunity to acquire work-ready skills, create global connections and be exposed to industry professionals. It’s a win-win for all involved,” Ms Stewart said.

Want to join a future trip and create positive change above and below the surface?

Murdoch University and Project Hiu will be collaborating on similar trips, with student grants of up to $5000AUD available. If you are interested to learn more about future trips and grant eligibility, please send us an email at to receive updates and information regarding these opportunities.  

Posted on:

5 Oct 2022

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