The Waifuna Women's Group in Kapatcol Village, West Misool District, Raja Ampat Regency conducted an open sea sasi event. The sasi area was opened after being closed for 1 year. This opening ceremony was also supported by Yayasan Konservasi Alam Nusantara (YKAN). Traditionally, the sasi area is usually managed by men. However, in Kampung Kapatcol, the sasi area is managed by women. These women's ownership rights are also fully recognized by the village government, church, and customary holders.
Sasi is one of the customary practices for managing natural resources in a sustainable manner that is still applied today in the Maluku and Papua regions. “Broadly speaking, sasi is a customary mechanism to regulate the management of natural resources, both on land and at sea, within a certain period of time. As long as the sasi is in effect, no one is allowed to take resources in the area that the sasi is working on until it's time to open it," explained YKAN's Bird's Head Seascape Manager, Lukas Rumetna.
In its journey, Waifuna received assistance in sustainable sasi management, based on science, through a partnership with YKAN. Among them by developing a sasi agreement based on the results of monitoring the sea cucumber and lobster populations. The sasi agreement must be obeyed by group members, such as only taking adult biota and using environmentally friendly fishing gear.
“Women must also be at the forefront of preserving nature. Another thing that is no less important is instilling the principles of nature conservation in the family environment,” said the Head of the Waifuna Group, Almina Kacili.
Almina added that their sasi area management activities were not without challenges, currently what Waifuna is facing is climate change. "In the last few years, we had to face big waves, strong winds and rain. When we had to patrol the Sasi area, there were waves and strong winds," said Almina.
The proceeds from the sale of the open sasi are used to support religious, social-community activities, and education savings for its citizens. Due to this commitment and dedication, in 2019, the local village government expanded the sasi area to 215 hectares—from 32 hectares—when the group was initially formed in 2010. To support this, the Waifuna Group also received assistance on organizational management, which was applied in dividing groups into several functions, namely diving, harvesting, recording results, and managing finances.
As a development partner of the West Papua Provincial Government, the integration of adat in conservation area management is a concern for YKAN, including in Area 4 of the Misool Archipelago Waters. “Conservation in the Bird's Head Seascape area can be more effective if it is supported by a socio-cultural system and the role of women which is realized into local policies. One example is the sasi managed by the Waifuna Women's Group in Raja Ampat Regency which is able to improve the ecological, social and economic conditions of the community," explained YKAN Director of Oceans Program Muhammad Ilman.
“We give our highest appreciation to the Waifuna Women's Group and YKAN who have supported the sustainable management of marine resources in Raja Ampat Regency. Through the work of the Waifuna Women's Group, we have learned that women can play an important role in preserving the environment as well as preserving noble traditions such as sasi, as a form of indigenous people-based utilization in the Sasi Zone of the Conservation Area," concluded the Head of the Marine and Fisheries Service of West Papua Province, Jacobis Ayomi, M.Si.
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 ykan.or.id.