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Lemon Island Community's “Sasi” tradition to preserve marine ecosystems

Diposting pada 16 Juni 2024 oleh admin / Dilihat: 0 kali

Manokwari, West Papua (ANTARA) –

A local resident named Alexander Sitanala, who is familiarly called Echon by his colleagues, plunged into the calm waters of Doreri Bay in Manokwari Regency, West Papua Province.

Armed with only a simple mask, snorkel and a pair of fins, Echon began exploring the hidden world beneath the waters of Nusmapi Island, commonly known as Lemon Island.

“The fish are plentiful, including the bigger ones,” Echon said when he resurfaced after diving for more than five minutes.

The head of the Ketapang Diving Community is not new to diving. For him, spending 5-10 minutes underwater is just a piece of cake.

As a diver and environmental activist, Echon plunged into the sea in the hope of witnessing the positive impact of the “Sasi” tradition recently carried out by the residents of Lemon Island on the marine ecosystem there.

In carrying out this tradition, residents are prohibited from taking marine resources on 48.8 hectares of land around Lemon Island. Please note that 10.5 hectares of Lemon Island waters are home to coral reefs.

People believe that misfortune will befall those who ignore the prohibition.

The people of Lemon Island performed a ritual to start the Sasi period, which they see as a means to preserve the marine ecosystem, on March 31 last year before performing another ritual to end it on May 25, 2024. The next period is planned to begin. starting on August 1 this year.

“Before the Sasi celebration, we only saw a handful of fish here. However, the population increased after we implemented this tradition. “Moreover, now we can see turtles here,” said Echon.

“The implementation of Sasi, which was initiated by the residents of Lemon Island and the Utrecht Ark Church, has proven to play a role in preserving the environment,” he added while enjoying the fresh coconut.

Due to the ban imposed during Sasi, Lemon Island residents had to sail and dive further to get fish. The community considers this a necessity to ensure the preservation of the marine ecosystem which is their source of life.

Opposition to Sasi

Joel Rumbobiar, the traditional rights holder over Lemon Island, said that fishing is a source of livelihood for him and most of the island’s residents, and has economic interests.

The start of the Sasi period forced fishermen to sail further afield to neighboring districts, such as South Manokwari in West Papua and Biak Numfor in Papua Province.

Apart from being prohibited from fishing in designated areas, fishermen are also not allowed to use methods and methods that are not environmentally friendly which can damage coral reefs, such as using bombs and crowbars.

Initially, some residents opposed Sasi. However, they changed their minds and even expressed their commitment to preserving the tradition for years after we discussed this,” said Rumbobiar.

Sasi is not only seen as an effort to preserve marine ecosystems. In fact, the people of Lemon Island believe that they can attract more divers and tourists to visit the island by maintaining the fish population by following Sasi.

After observing Sasi, the people of Lemon Island realized the importance of preserving the priceless marine ecosystem.

Church Initiative

The representative of the Utrecht Ark Church, Yoseph Raubaba, said that the church proposed celebrating Sasi and received support from several NGOs, such as Kawal Papua Barat, Ecodefender, Econusa, and Ketapang Dive Community.

Raubaba said that in the past the people of Lemon Island considered Sasi as a ritual to ask for help from ancestral spirits to increase the fish population.

He stated that currently people view tradition in a broader sense, namely as a form of expressing gratitude to God and taking good care of His creation.

“We are returning what belongs to God,” he stressed.

Representing the Manokwari Regency Government, East Manokwari Subdistrict Head Amos Andries Rumsayor expressed the local government’s full support for the implementation of Sasi on Lemon Island.

He praised the observance of the tradition, saying that it had helped the marine ecosystem recover within a year.

Considering that Lemon Island is within the Manokwari Regency area, Rumsayor underlined the need for the district government and all residents of the island to work together to preserve marine biodiversity on the island.

“The government and society must share responsibility for maintaining the beauty of the underwater ecosystem. “We need to protect the environment and keep it clean,” he said.

Related news: Transition from the mining sector to fisheries for the welfare of the Papuan people: Government
Related news: Ministry establishes marine conservation area in Bangka Belitung

Editor: Rahmad Nasution
Copyright © ANTARA 2024

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Lemon Island Community's “Sasi” tradition to preserve marine ecosystems

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Lemon Island Community's “Sasi” tradition to preserve marine ecosystems

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