Indigenous peoples in Maluku and Papua have lived side by side with the sea for generations. They also protect and respect nature which is a source of livelihood through various traditions and customary laws.
One of the efforts to protect the marine ecosystem is the sasi tradition. This is a traditional conservation practice, an ancestral legacy still being continued today. Sasi means the prohibition of harvesting specific natural resources at an agreed time and location as a form of conservation and protecting them from over-exploitation.
They are the people of Aduwei Village in North Misool District, Raja Ampat, West Papua, one of the areas that have preserved the sasi tradition. Kampung Aduwei has waters with an area of about 200 hectares stretching from Tanjung Hanta to Joomsip (Muaraful) and is rich in marine life.
Initially, sasi was done by men in Kampung Aduwei who were managed by clan masters (lords/owners) who had ulayat rights. Now, sasi in Aduwei has shifted to being managed by a women's group, which was inspired by a group of women in Kampung Kapatcol, who were the initiators of women's sasi in Raja Ampat. In the language of the Matbat tribe (the indigenous tribe of Raja Ampat), this group is named "Joom Jak Sasi," which means women protecting the oceans.
"In Papua, sasi was a male culture that was dominant in all things. However, in Aduwei, gentlemen have enormous support and give confidence to women to manage these marine products," said a religious figure in Aduwei, Rev. Agustina Sawen.
The Joom Jak Sasi group are strong female figures committed to protecting and preserving marine life. Joom Jak Sasi has gained the trust of the customary rights owner, Marga Elwod, to manage resources in the area of customary rights owner. Not only that, but the husbands of Joom Jak Sasi members also fully support the actions of this formidable woman.
"I have a job at sea as a fisherman. As a husband, I support the existence of sasi managed by Joom Jak Sasi," said Mario Blesia, a resident of Aduwei.
Closure the sasi
On September 26, 2022, the Joom Jak Sasi Group and the people of Kampung Aduwei held a sasi closing ceremony. This activity was attended by some officials, such as West Papua Nazareth Foundation Director Tri Kurnia, representatives of the BLUD UPTD Raja Ampat KKPD Balief Wainsaf and Mikha, North Misool District Secretary Yusak Lan, and the Bogor Agricultural University Team Prof. Dr. Mala Nurilmala, Taufik Hidayat MSi and Rizsa MP MSi,.
The sasi that is applied is a ban on harvesting sea cucumbers and lobsters for a year. The Joom Jak Sasi group has vowed to provide opportunities for sea cucumber biota, which have experienced a population reduction, to reproduce through community-based customary management so that they can be enjoyed sustainably.
Management is carried out so that the biota that is used as sasi does not experience extinction. And when sasi is opened, the harvest of sasi biota results are expected to improve the community's economy—especially supporting the education of families who have school children in Aduwei.
"Praise God, with this sasi; the results are expected to improve. It can guarantee the needs of the family, especially for school children," said Dian Fatot, a member of Joom Jak Sasi.
The sasi closing ceremony procession began by bringing three sasi boards into the GKI Shalom Aduwei Church, led by Pastor Agustina Sawen. Like worship at a church, the procession ended with the teaching of sasi and a statement of intent from the Joom Jak Sasi Group and praying for sasi boards to God.
After the worship procession was finished, the sasi boards were then brought by the Congregational Council and their entourage to the three points where the boards were stuck at the sasi location, namely Tanjung Hanta, Tanjung Jota, and Jomsip.
After the last sticking of the board, it was followed by a traditional procession of the Matbat Tribe led by the Chief of the Matbat Tribe, Karel Fatot. Traditional rituals are held on a boat by asking the ancestors and God to guard the location of the sasi, ending with throwing a white plate containing betel nut and sea cucumbers into the oceans.
After the series of events, the Joom Jak Sasi Group hopes that when the sasi opens later, the harvest of sea cucumbers and lobsters will be abundant. The community also needs to jointly protect the large sasi area from theft, so regular patrols in the sasi area are essential.
"If we don't support their program, who else will? The place where the women do the closing of the sasi is a place that is prone to the theft of sea cucumbers and lobsters. With this idea, we are grateful and thank the women who carry out sasi activities. We support it," concluded Karel Fatot.