Approximately 50 influential individuals from three provinces (Maluku, North Maluku, and West Papua) gathered in Ambon at the commemoration of World Fisheries Day on 21 November to witness the “Pejuang Laut” Launch, a program initiated by the USAID Sustainable Ecosystems Advanced (USAID SEA) in promoting behavior change for marine resources protection through local champion.
“Pejuang Laut” (literally meaning “Champions of the Sea”) engages local champions at various level from fishers, customary leaders, academicians, representatives of youth and women leaders and government officials to help create demand for marine resources protection and sustainable fisheries management. These agent of change will assist USAID SEA to improve broader understanding and buy-in of the benefits from marine conservation that leads to behavior change throughout the USAID SEA Project’s target areas.
The “Pejuang Laut” champions are those who have dedicated themselves, or been nominated by their peers, to voluntarily lead real actions and influence their respective community members to make contribution to protecting marine and fisheries resources. “Pejuang Laut” also have great passion and drive to help the community through campaigns and advocacy for better knowledge and behaviors towards marine resource protection.
“I used to be very reluctant to support conservation projects in our village. However when I started to understand the benefits of investing our time and efforts in protecting our marine and fisheries resources, I encouraged the villagers to catch fish responsibly by stop using bombs or potassium and avoid catching too many fish at a time which may leave fewer and fewer fish left in the ocean. It is clearly for the sake of our livelihood and future generation, “says Nurdin Dailom, the Customary Leader of Lopitontol, a village in West Papua.
Carrying the spirit of the tagline that says “Lestari Lautku Banyak Ikanku” (literally meaning “My Heathy Seas, My Abundant Fish”), the “Pejuang Laut” champions were introduced to the basic knowledge on the current state of marine and fisheries at the Fisheries Management Area (FMA)-715 and were equipped with communication and community facilitation skills. During the two-day forum, the champions also exchanged information on some challenges threatening marine and fisheries resources in their sites as well as shared conservation stories or projects that had been voluntarily initiated by them.
The 50 champions will work together with some USAID SEA implementing partners such as Coral Triangle Center (CTC), WWF-Indonesia, Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), Yayasan Masyarakat dan Perikanan Indonesia (MDPI), Indonesian Pole & Line and Handline Fisheries Association (AP2HI), and Rare Indonesia in implementing a series of outreach activities at the FMA-715 and promoting behaviour change that contributes to recovering marine and fisheries resources.