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Tomia Island People Revive the "Heole-Ole'a" Tradition

Ikan Ole
Ole fish Ole fish caught by fishermen. © Abas/ Komunto

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penandatanganan MoU
Signing of the MoU The traditional leaders signed the "Declaration of Catching and Management of Ole Fish in the Kawati Traditional Management Area of Tomia Island" on Tuesday (17/11). © Jamil/Komunto

On November 17, 2020, the Indigenous Law Community (MHA) in the customary area (kawati) of Tomia Island, Wakatobi Regency, Southeast Sulawesi, carried out the “Declaration of Catching and Management of Ole Fish in a Managed Area Tomia Island Kawati Customs. This event was held in Tomia by following health protocols and was attended by traditional stakeholders in the MHA Kawati area of Tomia Island. This activity was supported by the Wakatobi National Park Office (BTNW), the Wakatobi Regency Government, the Wakatobi Regency Marine and Fisheries Service, the Tomia Fisherman Community (KOMUNTO), and Yayasan Konservasi Alam Nusantara (YKAN).

Ole fish is a species that is thought to be endemic to Tomia Island which usually only appears in June-September. According to tradition, ole fish are caught in a separate traditional procession.” To catch this ole fish using traditional fishing gear, namely nets and gill nets, and led by a parika. Parika is a customary holder who is tasked with managing all matters relating to ole fishing. Starting from the procedure for catching, the location of catching, the time of catching, managing the catch, and coordinating with traditional institutions before making arrests. Parika will observe the process of rising ole fish to a location until it finishes laying eggs. After there is a command from parika, new fishermen can catch ole fish. In general, this ole fishing procession is called Heole-Ole'a," explained La Mahawani as Konta Bitara Kawati Tongano or spokesman for the scope of the Kawati Tongano customary area, Tomia Island.

Over time, the Heole-Ole'a tradition is slowly being forgotten. In fact, this tradition is full of noble values in managing sustainable biological resources. "The ole fishing method is no longer waiting for the egg-laying process to finish. In addition, modifications of fishing gear have also been carried out which tend to overfish using smaller meshes. If it is allowed to continue, it is feared that the ole fish population will become extinct. Therefore, it is necessary to immediately take steps to regulate the capture and management of ole fish in a sustainable manner, because actually fishermen on Tomia Island have always held the principle of fishing based on local wisdom that puts forward the principle of sustainability,” said Abas, as KOMUNTO Coordinator.

Ikan ole
Ole fish Ole fish caught by fishermen. © Abas/ Komunto

Adat Revitalization

The efforts to revive the fishery system are based on local wisdom is to strengthen the duties and functions of traditional sara (traditional stakeholders) as an element of implementing customary institutions in natural resource management. This has received support from many parties, both from the government, non-governmental organizations, academics to the community on Tomia Island. The momentum was with the agreement on the map of the Kawati Tomia customary area and the issuance of the Wakatobi Regent's Regulation on MHA No. 45 of 2018 concerning Protection and Management of Coastal and Marine Resources Based on the Kawati Customary Law in the Tomia Island Region in Wakatobi Regency.

“Speaking of Wakatobi Regency, of course we all know that Wakatobi Regency has the potential for natural resources, historical heritage, as well as extraordinary arts and culture. In the context of Wakatobi, this customary approach is very relevant and important because of the very large role of adat in protecting natural resources. Customs, which are supported by the active role of the community, are one of the key factors for the success of conservation in Wakatobi,” explained YKAN Director of Oceans Program Muhammad Ilman.

Since August 2020, regular meetings between stakeholders and traditional experts have begun to discuss the management of ole fish in a sustainable manner based on customs. In addition to strengthening the duties and functions of indigenous peoples, the series of meetings also aimed to develop a map of the management of customary areas and make an agreement on customary regulations on the procedures for catching ole fish. This hard work paid off sweetly. Currently, customary regulations regarding the procedures for catching ole fish and a map of the fishing area have been drawn up.” The existence of this customary regulation has become a turning point for sustainable ole fish management, which has been forgotten for a long time. Hopefully, in the nearest ole fish season, this regulation can be implemented and we can all oversee it so that it runs well, "said Head of Marine and Fisheries UPTD Tomia Sahawari Island.

This sustainable ole fish management initiative requires the support and synergy of many parties so that when it is implemented it can run well. "BTNW congratulates and succeeds on the "Declaration of Catching and Management of Ole Fish in the Kawati Indigenous Management Area of Tomia Island". Since the beginning we have always supported efforts to strengthen MHA in terms of sustainable natural resource management. We also hope that in the future there will be more and more parties who will support noble efforts like this towards a more sustainable management of Wakatobi National Park and provide benefits for both the environment and the community," said Iwanuddin, as Head of the National Park Management Section (SPTN) Region III Tomia. Binongko - Wakatobi National Park Hall.

Protection of land and water areas is one of YKAN's conservation priority agendas, which is part of climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts. This traditional revitalization is also an important step to create a sustainable Indonesia for future generations.

Yayasan Konservasi Alam Nusantara (YKAN) is a scientific-based non-profit organization that has been present in Indonesia since 2014. With the mission of protecting lands and waters as life support systems, we provide innovative solutions to realize the harmony of nature and humans through effective natural resource management, prioritizing a non-confrontational approach, and building a network of partnerships with all stakeholders for a sustainable Indonesia. For more information, visit