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Egek and Kewang: traditional solutions to defend nature

As an archipelagic country, Indonesia has large potential from sea. Our country is on the top two of the largest fish producer in the world after China. Eastern Indonesia sea as the location of coral triangle is the home for 76 percent of world coral reef species and 37 percent of global coral reef fish species. Natural resources that remain well-preserved here does not merely stabilize the world climate, but also has very large potential for blue economy. Blue economy is the eco-friendly utilization of sea resources in support of economic growth, people’s welfare, livelihood, and sea ecosystem conservation.

The consistently supported best practices are traditional conservation, egek, performed by the community of Moi Tribe in Malaumkarta Village, Sorong Village, West Papua.

Egek is the traditional conservation that bans the utilization of natural resources at a certain place in a certain spot. According to Jefri Mobalen, from the Malaumkarta Young Generation Association (PGM), the ban imposition was due to the fact that many coral reef was destroyed by explosive and potassium for fishing in 1990s. “We ban the use of destructive fishing tools that damage sea ecosystem,” he said.

In addition to the ban of destructive fishing tool, the community is also prohibited for taking some sorts of sea species such as lobster and sea cucumber in a certain period of time. Picking the species here is allowed after the egek is retracted.

After years of closure, Moi Tribe community retracted the egek on 13 June 2022 through a traditional ritual procession. They were then allowed to catch the formerly-banned animals using safe fishing tools such as fishing rods.

Kewang is traditional law institution in Maluku whose responsibility is to defend the terrestrial and sea nature. Kewang is also responsible for providing education on nature to the community. Traditionally, kewang is selected from a certain clan. The spirit of kewang to defend the nature is the legacy shared to young peoples.

Photo caption: Youngsters of Malaumkarta go diving (molo) to catch lobster and sea cucumber after opening the egek.

Story Information:

Country: Indonesia

Topic: Oceans

Photo or video credit: EcoNusa/David Herman Jaya

Text Credit: Nur Alfiyah

Date : 3 June 2023

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