According to a World Bank report, the role of the sea is critical to Indonesia’s welfare. The sea’s position is extensive because it has a high value and contribution to the fishery sector worth US$27 billion, employs 7 million people, and meets more than half of Indonesia’s animal protein needs.
However, there are challenges in managing Indonesia’s marine and coastal ecosystems.
These challenges include approximately 38% of fish being caught beyond the ecosystem’s ability to overfish, approximately one-third of Indonesia’s valuable coral reefs being in poor condition, and critical coastal ecosystems such as mangroves experiencing significant reduction or stress.
The Wabula Key Biodiversity Area (KBA) in Buton district, Southeast Sulawesi, is one of Indonesia’s coastal areas that has long adapted a sustainable marine resource management system. To support and strengthen this management system, Destructive Fishing Watch (DFW) Indonesia implemented a small-scale indigenous fishery management program in KBA Wabula, Buton Regency, in collaboration with Burung Indonesia and funding from the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF).
This program seeks to provide data on the profile of small-scale fisheries resources in the Wabula KAB, increase indigenous peoples’ capacity in marine resource management, and provide marine resource management policies based on local wisdom to promote better marine resource management governance.
According to Moh Abdi Suhufan, the National Coordinator of DFW Indonesia, this area has three important coastal ecosystems: mangroves, seagrasses, and coral reefs, which are relatively well-preserved thanks to a management system based on customary law communities. “The coral reefs in Wabula are still in good condition, with 50-58 per cent still in good condition.” This is in stark contrast to Indonesia’s coral reefs, where only 23.5 per cent are in good condition, according to Abdi.
Based on the results of a survey conducted by DFW Indonesia in 2021, in addition to coral reefs, this region has 15 types of reef fish families, including Balistidae, Lutjanidae, Pomacentridae, Pseudochromidae, and Labridae. Furthermore, the condition of seagrass cover ranged from 64-70%, which was still classified as good. The types of seagrass found were Enhas acoroides, Thalassia hemprichii, Cymodocea rotundata and Syringodium isoetifolium. Meanwhile, the condition of mangroves ranges from 66-73%, which is still classified as good with the type of mangrove consisting of Avicennia sp. Rhizopora sp., Sonneratia Alba and Bruguera gymnorrhiza.
Abdi also mentioned that Wabula has a high percentage of coral reefs, seagrass, and mangroves in the good category because it is supported by the traditional fisheries management system with the Nambo system. “There is a core zone, namely Kaombo, a no-take zone, in the Nambo area, the traditional fishing area of the Wabula Indigenous Peoples,” Abdi explained.
He revealed that there are currently two types of Kaombo in Wabula: Kaombo Awaktu, a temporarily closed or open and closed sea area, and Kaombo Saumuru, which is a permanently closed marine area.
The Kaombo system’s management aims to provide opportunities for ecosystems and marine biotas such as reef fish, ornamental fish, lola, and sea cucumbers to breed and recover.
This system has had a positive impact on the people of Wabula, namely the preservation of important marine ecosystems, the fulfilment of community fish food needs, and the expansion of marine tourism and research activities such as fishing and diving, which have begun to have an economic impact on the people of Wabula.
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“These principles and rules are consistent with the blue economy, namely the sustainable use of marine resources to increase economic growth and employment opportunities while maintaining the economy’s and the marine ecosystem’s quality,” Abdi said.
Opportunities to use the Wabula sea for tourism activities will be expanded as part of the Southeast Sulawesi provincial government’s and Buton district’s plans to make Wabula a mainstay tourist destination. “The potential is great; it just needs to be supported by strengthening planning and providing supporting infrastructure such as homestays, culinary, and tourist attractions,” Abdi said.
Meanwhile, Nasruddin, DFW Indonesia’s Wabula Program Coordinator, stated that the Kaombo Wabula management plan was facilitated in order to strengthen the marine resource management model based on the Wabula customary law community. “This management plan, which contains strategies and indications of the Kaombo management program, was prepared in collaboration with the community and the village government in the Wabula sub-district,”
His party has pushed for a consensus or agreement with village leaders Wasampela, Wabula, Wabula 1, and Wasuemba to use the document to strengthen the Kaombo management system in their respective regions.
This management plan will then be adopted in the Medium-Term Village Development Plan (RPJMDes) and the Village Development Activity Plan as a joint document that will serve as a reference for the village government in the management of Kaombo (RKPDes). “The village government needs to add a development touch to fishery activities and marine resource conservation, not just build infrastructure on land,” Nasruddin said.
On the other hand, this program includes interventions for tuna fishing fishers in Holimombo Jaya village, Pasarwajo sub-district, Buton district. “We assisted 86 tuna fishermen in obtaining vessel measuring documents and small passes from the port authority so that fishing activities by local fishermen are supported by the government’s legal ownership of vessel documents,” Nasruddin said. Tuna fishing by small-scale fishers will continue to grow, aided by environmentally-friendly fishing gear, fleets, and recorded catches. “Efforts to reduce IUU fishing begin with gathering data on vessels, fishing gear, and fish caught by fishermen,” Nasruddin explained.
Ahmad Mulia, M.Si, the Head of the Buton District Planning and Development Agency, supports and appreciates the DFW Indonesia program in strengthening indigenous community-based small-scale fisheries management because it is consistent with the Buton district government’s efforts to encourage regional fisheries and tourism management. “This initiative is very good because it complements the government’s plan to encourage the protection and strengthening of indigenous peoples in Buton Regency through Regional Regulations,” Ahmad Mulia said.