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Conservation and Sustainability

In my previous article “New Year Festivity”, I have already mentioned some issues regarding marine life conservation and how the villagers were feasting on from some endangered species for their main-courses during their celebrations. I honestly thought it was not a very good thing until now. Sometime ago, I tried to discussed it with my friend on the phone, who reminded me that each area has its own way of conserving its environment, and of course Raja Ampat is included.

In the meantime, I realized that my emotions made me miss the sustainability efforts that already happen in Raja Ampat. In this article, I will try to examine how their ancient tradition could bring such positive impacts and other things. Of course I will not miss how the foundation has been doing so far either. Even though I can’t mention all the sustainability efforts happening on both sides, this article contains some information of them both.

SASI – Last month, I had the opportunity to attend the class on environment sustainability by Kaka Maya, Co-Founder of the Foundation I work for, and a Teacher from Bandung. The class was talking about SASI, and it turns out this new word is one of the answers I’ve been looking for.

What is SASI? The word SASI itself comes from their language, meaning ‘oath’. This is a tradition passed on from their ancestors. According to this tradition, the villagers gather in a ceremony to agree upon a prohibition to take any plants or animals or specified animal or plant in the designated areas for a certain period of time. From what I asked, heard and read, the time are varies between 6-12 months.

It might not resolve all the sea or ocean issues that they are facing, however, I believe it will give appropriate time for the nature to heal and re-grow.

Sadly, due to several factors I can’t mention here, many younger generations are no longer aware nor understand their own ancient traditional method of conservation and sustainability.

Environmental Class – The main purpose of this class is to enrich the children with a better understanding of marine life, its functions, as well as the human roles in its sustainability. They also shared the important roles of sharks existence in marine life, which usually ends by swimming together with sharks. A completely different version to what is shown in the movies where sharks are known as man-eaters.

Continuing the SASI, this class is determined to further their efforts to re-introduce the ancient traditional method within this year, and I will happily inform you in another article when it happens.

Spear Fishing – It is a open secret how the fishing net brings lots of destruction to the sea and ocean. “Seaspiracy” is an infamous documentary movie that shows the significant destruction caused by it.

I am so pleased to let you all know, that the children in these villages have a common ground for conservation. They are using several fishing methods, such as: spear gun, lines and hooks. These enable them to fish only as much as necessary for their family needs. With the help from a lot of conservationists from their area or from other external factors such as this foundation, they are now more aware of the danger of over-fishing.

Ocean Warrior – Originated in Arborek, and island not far from the villages. Kaka Maya, again, created this program to create awareness of trash along the beaches, the coast, and the ocean, how it affects the marine life and also how everyone can help so that the domestic waste would not end up in the ocean.

In 2019, Kaka Maya re-created the program and applied it in these villages, with good results. I witnessed myself how the children voluntarily picked up the trash along the beach, even while they were swimming in the ocean, and how they care about plastic usage inside the village. It’s an amazing moment to see it with your own eyes.

For their good deeds, the Foundation awarded them with an adventure to another beach and carried out the same good deeds. (How amazing is that?) This is a huge breakthrough for Raja Ampat to pursue a better sustainability of their marine life. If only this program were contagious across the nation! I believe it would create a better awareness for the younger generations.

Note 1: According to WWF, Raja Ampat has many corals able to resist the rising temperature of the ocean. With the worsening situation of climate change throughout the globe, it is important to keep the corals healthy remembering how it is a home for more than 25% small fishes as their home. Therefore, it plays an important role in keeping the ecosystem healthy.

Note 2: The coral reefs’ tissue is also home to the Zooxanthellae algae. In the same way we eat food, the nutrients and energy from the zooxanthellae feed the corals so they can survive. The corals are using the zooxanthellae as a food source to provide Carbon Dioxide (CO2) to do photosynthesis.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric administration of the U.S Department of Commerce, at least half of the earth’s oxygen comes from the ocean. Scientists even estimate that 50-80% of the oxygen production comes from oceanic plankton, and algae are include as a plankton.

The key message of the above-mentioned is: If we are persistent in preserving a healthy marine life, it will result in a healthy world environment. Moreover, with the occurred significant deforestation, the ocean will be our big hope for oxygen production, so the human race can survive. Knowing all that, it’s not a joke to say we need to save the ocean to save the world.

Water Conservation – There are many conferences, and seminars over the globe discussing these issues. In reality, in our village are incredibly implementing for decades. They are maximizing the rain waters for their daily needs, such as: showering, drinking water, toilet flushing.

They even doing their small ‘nature business’ or in common words ‘pee’ in the ocean. Well this might sound like a dirty thing at first, but if the usual modern toilet could use more than 5 liters/flush, imagine if in a single day in a village composed of 400 people, their 250 men go to the toilet 3 times a day, by not doing the small ‘nature business’ in the toilet, they already save more than 15 liters per person and 3750 liters of water per day. If that’s not an amazing thing I can’t think of it in another way.

Those are some of the conservations and sustainability efforts happening in this area combined with the foundations relentless efforts that I can tell from here in Raja Ampat, Papua. What do you think about it? Does your area have any sustainability and conservation program? If possible, what would you personally do to help the conservation of the marine life?


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