Husein Makatita, a 43 years old fisher from Sawai village, finally release his turtle into the ocean after keeping it for four years. ‘Now, I am happy to send off my turtle back to where it belongs, the ocean. I hope my action will be a good example for others and they follow what I did.’’ Says Husein. Sawai village is located in North Seram, Maluku, famous for its natural beaches and sea.
Husein Makatita used to own two Chelonia mydas, also known as the green turtle, black (sea) turtle or Pacific green turtle, is a species of large sea turtle of the Cheloniidae family. Chelonia mydas is listed as endangered by the IUCN and CITES and is protected from exploitation in most countries, including Indonesia. According to Indonesia Law number 5 / year 1990 concerning the Conservation of Biological Resources and their Ecosystems, turtles are protected by the state. Realizing this, Husein and local people voluntarily released their favourite green turtle back into their habitat.
Husein and group of fishermen representatives from North Seram District and North West Seram District attended the Community Based Surveillance System (Sismaswas) socialization in Sawai Village, Maluku, organised by USAID SEA Project implementing partner, WWF Indonesia, on January 29, 2019. There are still many findings and reports on illegal and destructive fishing activities, to name a few: fish bombing and using potassium and compressor for diving to catch fish. Fishing using compressors not only harmful to fisher’s lives but also decrease the catch of those using fishing rods.
After the training, they were expected to form a Community Surveillance Group (Pokmaswas), which makes it feasible for them and community to involve directly in monitoring water areas in these two districts. In the training, the group learned about Pokmaswas mechanism, their role in monitoring and protecting the water areas and managing fisheries resources in responsible ways, as stipulated in the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries Decree No. 58 2001 regarding the Procedures for Implementing the Community Surveillance System in Managing and Utilizing Marine and Fisheries Resources.
Besides, this group was also provided with knowledge about destructive fishery activity status in North West Seram District, the procedures of forming Pokmaswas, the threatened and endangered of marine species such as turtles and Napoleon fish, and the regulation about for the use of marine resources. They were also aware of the legal punishment and fines for capturing and keeping these protected marine animals illegally. The speakers were representatives of the Maluku Province Marine and Fisheries Agency (DKP), Sorong Coastal & Marine Resource Management Workshop (LPSPL), Ambon Marine and Fisheries Resource Management (PSDKP) and WWF-Indonesia marine experts. Now that the local community sees Pokmaswas could be a real solution to combat destructive fishing in the region, they decided to immediately form Pokmaswas.
Turtles play a vital role in keeping sea ecology, they help coral reef ecosystems to survive by eating algae that live at the reef surface. This new knowledge has initiated Husein to invite Maluku Marine and Fisheries officer and other local authorities to come and see his green turtles that he keeps lovingly in a 3 x 3 meters fishpen in front of his house. ‘’Not only bread but this turtle also like to eat banana peels’’, he said during morphometric measurement before releasing the turtle back to its natural habitat. These turtles have long been a good friend of him and the local villagers, so it was hard to see these beautiful creatures away and would probably never came back.
The Regional Government is urging for these two districts to become a Seram Utara Barat Small Island (TPK) Coastal and Island Conservation Area (KKP3K). Good governance of KKP3K will contribute to preserving the environmental ecosystems and marine biota. Coastal conservation areas are also closely linked to marine tourism and have a big opportunity to increase the livelihoods of coastal communities. Therefore, the USAID SEA Project jointly collaborate with local governments and key stakeholders including fisher to maintain and develop another potential of coastal conservation areas.
Written by: WWF Indonesia/Edited by: USAID SEA Communication Team