Kharishar Kahfi, Jakarta – Indigenous communities from 19 villages at the Dampier Strait Marine Protection Area (MPA) in Raja Ampat Islands, West Papua, declared on Tuesday the customary fishing area in the regency, asserting their commitment to conserve marine ecosystems and utilize resources sustainably.
"The customary fishing area in Raja Ampat is a system that regulates members of the indigenous Maya tribe in maintaining and utilizing the sea and its fishery resources wisely and responsibly," said Kristian Thebu, the chief of the Maya Tribe Council, in a statement on Wednesday.
The declaration will lead people of eight villages living on Batanta Island as well as 11 others on Salawati Island to agree to protect the 211,000 hectares of marine area, securing sustainably the livelihoods of 2,000 households on both islands.
Such a declaration is considered helpful for the MPA management in managing the area thanks to "community involvement in planning and management," according to Raja Ampat MPA technical implementation unit head Syafri.
The Marine Protected Area in Raja Ampat was determined through a 2014 decree from the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry.
However, damage to marine ecosystems and fishery resources in the region continued to threaten the region in the form of irregular and unsustainable fishing practices as well as a growing number of fishermen from outside Raja Ampat.
Nongovernmental organization RARE, with support from the USAID Sustainable Ecosystem Advanced (SEA) project, will assist with the implementation of the declaration, as well as other attempts at conservation and sustainable resource utilization in the region. (ebf)