For Alwiya, being a fisher is not only about going to the sea and catching fish. To him, a fisher must also understand government policies and regulations that directly affect their work. “Don’t just be an ordinary fisher. But we all must understand about government policies, especially what affect us,” said Alwiya Kalidupa, a fisher champion based in North Seram, Central Maluku Regency.
He lives in Parigi Village and has been a fisherman for 22 years. Other than as fisher, just like hundreds of other fishers in Parigi Village, Alwiya is a pioneer in marine conservation activities in his village. Amongst his fellow fishers, Alwiya always participates in government program which affects his work directly. As he’s dedicated his life at sea, he is fully across problems what fishers face. He said, there has been a lot of fisher’s livelihood improvement program and on ecosystem protection by the government and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
“But there are still people or fishers who don’t understand and think that the programs aren’t that important,” said the 52-year-old fisher. Some fishers believe, as he cited, such programs are not always useful since what they need is catching and selling fish. They don’t care whether ecosystem needs protection or why must they spend time to fill out the fisher log.
As his knowledge improved ever since his involvement in various activities organized by USAID SEA Project partners, MDPI, Alwiya actively invites and encourages other fishers to take part in protecting the sea and conform any government policies that directly impact their life, just like filling in fisherman log book. For him, this matters because fishing is about how he feeds and makes daily living for his family. Alwiya believes the sea must be taken care of and protected, just like we did for our own home.
“At the beginning, it was not easy to ask my fellow fishers to participate in those programs. As the years went by however, things slowly begin to change. Now they finally realize that protecting the sea and its ecosystem matter,” added Alwiya.
Because of his commitment and hard work to involve other fishers in marine conservation activities, Alwiya was selected as one of the fisher champions in North Seram since June 2018 by USAID SEA implementing partner Masyarakat dan Perikanan Indonesia (MDPI). Alwiya also participated in several trainings organized by MDPI supported by USAID SEA Project, including Safety at Sea Training and training for fishers’ champions.
He actively initiates activities in his village such as the recent one he did during last World Fisheries Day 2018 by doing the cleaning up plastic from the beach – together with elementary school students. He also spoke in front of high school students in his village, sharing his knowledge about endangered, threatened and protected marine animals. Particularly, Alwiya realizes that plastic has become alarming problem for Parigi village equally for many other coastal areas.
“I hope for sustainable sea and its ecosystem, so that fishers will never run out of fish to catch, for now and future generations. For many years thereafter, for the fishers prosperity”, hoping Alwiya, ending his story.
Written by: Mohammad Syifa-MDPI, edited by USAID SEA Communication team