The Seven Seas BlogTrip Reports & News
Communities Protecting Coral Reefs in the Forgotten Islands
When we sailed away from Maumere towards Wetar and beyond, I was looking forward to learn more about how the island communities engage in the protection of their beautiful coastal resources. Anthropologists call these islands: “Forgotten Islands“, because they historically had little contact with the rest of Indonesia. Until now this 600-mile long archipelago between the Banda and Arafura Sea remains quite difficult to access due to their remote location and rough seas for most of the year. The best time to visit is during the months of October and November, April and May. During our epic trip of three weeks, I visited six communities whose livelihoods depend on fishing activities and the harvest of nutmeg, cloves and walnuts (kenari) such as Nabar village at Wetar and Jerili village at Serua. Prior to the pandemic, some communities also have a growing income from tourism such as Welora village on Daiwera Island, Ay and Rhun in the Banda Islands and Ameth at Nusa Laut in the Lease Islands.
It was very inspiring to meet the members of the community patrols or kelompok masyarakat pengawas (Pokmaswas) at Pulau Ay and Rhun and Nusa Laut during this trip. The main duties of both Pokmaswas teams in the Ay-Rhun Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are to regularly patrol the waters around their home islands, ensuring MPA regulations are understood by the local coastal communities, and to monitor the marine and coastal ecosystems. The teams apply the principles of 3M (Melihat/mendengar, Mencatat, dan Melaporkan) or seeing/hearing, recording, and reporting.
Coral Triangle Center (CTC) has facilitated the establishment of community-based MPAs at Ay and Rhun Island and the inauguration of the community patrols with the Provincial Government of Maluku.
Upon our departure from Pulau Ay, Laode Junaidin, CTC’s community outreach officer who lives on Pulau Ay and is well-known and respected among the communities, gave us delicious local delicacies as oleh-oleh (gifts) including 2 kilo kenari/walnuts and 12 pala (nutmeg) jams to bring back on board for breakfast. Lida Pet-Soede, one of our fisheries and marine conservation experts on board, also made delicious ‘palacolada’ as well with the pala jam for all of us to toast on the good things in life. The trip was a wonderful reunion with long-time and new friends and colleagues Jos, Lida, Peter, Purwanto, Nanda and with top photographers Tommy, Foued and Alex who made mesmerizing photos and video’s during this epic trip.
It is very inspiring to see this community spirit and commitment at Welora Village at Pulau Daiwera as well where we signed a conservation agreement together with our colleagues Peter Mous and Nandana Godjali from Yayasan Konservasi Alam Nusantara (YKAN) which was initiated by the Seven Seas. In addition, at Jerili village at Serua Island, a conservation easement was facilitated by Peter, who leads the fisheries program of YKAN, and which was supported by CTC.
These are all encouraging examples how the collaboration between communities, government, environmental NGOs and private sector can lead to effective conservation of the most diverse coral reef areas and fish stocks in the region. Thank you Mark for organizing and supporting us on this epic trip with the Seven Seas. It was a great opportunity to get back in the water and an inspiration to meet the people who are at the forefront of protecting these beautiful remote coastal and marine areas in the Banda Sea.