Indonesia: WWF Inks Deal With Maluku Islet to Protect Waters

Rizky Amelia Jakarta Globe 19 Mar 14;

A recent, undated handout photo received on September 2, 2013 from environmental group Conversation International shows a recently discovered species of “walking” shark in the waters off Halmahera, one of the Maluku Islands. (AFP Photo/Conservation International/Mark Erdmann)

Jakarta. The World Wide Fund for Nature announced the signing of a marine conservation agreement with the indigenous community of Seram Island in Maluku to protect the fisheries potential in the area.

Abdullah Habibi, capture fisheries coordinator at WWF Indonesia, said the Kataloka community was chosen because of the tremendous fisheries potential in the waters where it lived. The area consists of four small islets — Nukus, Koon, Gorom and Grogos — and is rich with a wide variety of fish, though the conservation would be focused around Koon.

“Koon has been long known as a spawning spot for some grouper species,” Abdullah said.

The agreement between WWF and the local community is aimed at conserving the marine potential in the area.

Abdullah said the area was chosen as a conservation area because the Kataloka’s local wisdom was strong, and with a strong community sprint the conservation would be easily implemented.

Community leader M. Syaiful Akbar Humarei said that by declaring Koon as a conservation area it was expected that environmental destruction would decline.

“The destruction that happens to our sea is mostly caused by our own people. Some continue to use fish bombs and if we don’t stop then the island and the ecosystem will be destroyed,” he said.

By declaring Koon as a conservation area, local fishermen will no longer be allowed to take any fish or coral from the area. Locals who violate the rule could be ordered to pay up to Rp 5 million ($440) in fines. If the violators are from outside community they could be fined a maximum of Rp 15 million.

Some locals have been appointed as patrol officers to prevent people from violating the fishing prohibition in Koon that applies to more than two hectares.

Despite the prohibition, some locals said they would not comply with the new regulation and would carry on fishing in the area.

Odi Anzar, who lives on Grogos, said he had often caught fish in the conservation area and had never been punished.

“I still catch fish. I was arrested once and was given a warning, but I keep coming back to catch fish,” he said.

WWF has warned Indonesia to pay special attention to the maritime and fisheries sectors, which are facing the threat of natural resources overexploitation.

The increasing damage to the maritime sector has prompted President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to set up a target to have 20 million hectares of sea dedicated as conservation areas by 2020.

Currently Indonesia has 15.39 million hectares of marine conservation area.