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Forging the Food Chain

A Santa Cruz engineer is rebuilding fisheries and restoring nutrition in Bali

By Sarah Phelan

When he was 18 years old, Jack Schultz walked across the Ecuadorian Andes, paddled a dugout canoe to the Amazon River mouth, then sailed solo up the Atlantic and across the Caribbean to Florida.

Fifty-eight years later, Schultz's adventurous spirit is evidently still very much alive and kicking. Two weeks ago, the Santa Cruz resident and civil engineer (who is father to chef Jo Schultz of India Jose fame) headed to Bali in the hope of helping restore the fisheries in Sumatra's tsunami-devastated west coast.

"Seventy-seven percent of the people's protein comes from fish," says Schultz, noting that most incoming relief supplies are carbohydrates, "which is OK for a while, but not for the long term."

Schultz, who speaks the local language a little, says his son Sam, who moved to Bali from Santa Cruz 15 years ago, has chartered a 150-ton commercial boat and already made multiple trips to deliver food to Banda Aceh and west Sumatra.

"Sam says people are starving on the beaches. It's a surf coast, so big ships can't land, they have to unload onto small boats which can break through the surf," says Schultz, who also wants to repair bridges and housing swept away by the tsunami.

Reached by email last week, Schultz was planning to travel to Medan, where he'll buy as much as he can afford of rebuilding and emergency supplies, before heading by ferry to the island of Sabang to rent the largest fishing boat he can. From there, he'll proceed south to a small harbor which may be ready for restoration.

As for financing the operation, apparently a small Bali-based NGO called Indonesian Development for Education and Permaculture, which helped Schultz's son Sam operate a makeshift morgue after the Bali nightclub bombing two years ago, may provide some funds if the relief trip is organized and paid for by others. And much as the elder Schultz would rather be out on the high seas running a ship, he recognizes he might end up stuck behind a desk‹or a laptop.

"I may end up being their press officer," he jokes.

For information on how you can help Schultz's relief efforts, email him at [email protected].

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From the February 9-16, 2005 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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