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Conservation of West Papua is not about the Fish, but for the Future of Papuan Children
05 February 2020 - by Ab Yomo

Manokwari (01/23/2020), - Conservation of West Papua is not about the fish, but for the future of Papuan children. Thus said Mark Erdmann, Researcher from Conservation International Indonesia when presenting his material at the Interactive Development Talkshow activities between the Government of West Papua Province and Development Partners, in Manokwari, Thursday (01/23/2020).

 The following is his statement ...When we talk about the Conservation Province in my opinion the most important thing for us to show is precisely the children of Papua, not the fish. Because what we want to do with the Conservation Province, with Perdasus, with the Manokwari Declaration is to guarantee the future of Papuan children.

 That is why we give so much time and investment to realize a Conservation Province. So I hope we always remember Papuan children. I borrowed a word or two from Fredi Numberi in his book Quo Vadis Papua, which in Latin means where would Papua take it? Where will West Papua be taken?

 I think this photo (showing a slide of a photo of a Papuan child about to jump off a waterfall cliff into the sea) is quite appropriate for us to see that, also when we want to discuss the Conservation Province. In this photo we can see that there is a beautiful natural Papua, there is a waterfall, there is a forest, there is a nice sea, and in the middle there is a Papuan community.

 Now, we can question, where are the people of Papua going? Does he want to fall and sink into this globalization? Or he just wants to enjoy the nature he has. He wants to use it properly. I think that's why we joined today to discuss that. When discussing the Papua Vadis Quo, I hope we will go to the Conservation Province.

Why is my percentage going to talk about West Papua or is the Land of Papua entirely worthy of being the First Conservation Province in the world? I, as a sea person, will talk a little about the uniqueness of marine natural resources in West Papua.

In my opinion there have been some concrete steps taken towards the sea in West Papua. When we ask why West Papua deserves to be a Conservation Province? I think we see it from three sides; First is the indigenous people or indigenous Papuans who are highly dependent on Papua's natural wealth and are very vulnerable to globalization, where we see their rights often being removed by companies, and that has often happened and now we want to change that.

From the natural side of the land, 90 percent of the forest here is still quite intact, and this is one of the largest tropical forests in the world, and that is very important. The mangroves and peatlands here are also very broad and this is important as a carbon manager. Hopefully the ecological fiscal transfer that is being worked on can be realized. Biodiversity on land is also very unique, very endemic but threatened, ranging from birds of paradise to tree kangaroos.

From the natural side of the sea clearly, because this may be my expertise, we can say that the biodiversity in the sea of ??West Papua is the highest in the world, with the best marine ecosystems. There is no other place in the world like ours here (West Papua). This is very, very important for food security and economic resources for indigenous Papuans on the coast.

West Papua is the center of marine biodiversity in the world. There are more than 600 species of coral, that 75 percent of the whole world has coral, in West Papua. The latest figure is 1859 species of reef fish in West Papua. That's 300 more species than there are in Australia, which people claim to be a very large coral growing. We have almost 25 percent more species here than Australia, even though we are 80 percent smaller than Australia.

We also have Jamursba Medi in Tambrauw, which is the biggest leatherback turtle nesting area in the World. In addition there are still many others, there are whales, sharks and so on. This place is not inferior to other places in the world. You have heard the coral triangle, the place is owned by Indonesia, the Philippines, Timor Leste, Papua New Guinea and Salomon Island.

In fact Papua is the heart of the coral triangle. Others have more than 500 species of coral, West Papua has 600 more species of coral. We also have diferent coral reefs, we see when climate change occurs, we see other places want to experience bleaching. If there is warming in the sea, coral grows elsewhere to become white. But in West Papua it is very good. Sometimes we see he is white, but even if he is white, in one or two months he will return to normal. This means a very important place for the future of coral reefs around the world.

 Now from the perspective of reef fish, I also want to say that fish in West Papua are also the most numerous in the entire world. Precisely in the last twenty years we have found 100 new species that only exist in West Papua. A number of newly discovered fish were later given the names of several Papuan male figures, such as Former Minister of Transportation Fredy Numberi, former Governor of West Papua, Former Regent of Raja Ampat, also there is a new type of fish labeled Unipa.

From a conservation perspective, the king of ampat development is extraordinary. That is because the Government cooperates very closely with local communities and even local NGOs.

So there are so many new species that can only be obtained in West Papua. Although a small fish, it is an important asset for West Papua. People from outside come here to see this, because there is no other place in the world.

West Papua also has an extraordinary megafone. The most leatherback turtles in the world, actually lay eggs here. There are four manta enlargement sites (Giant Stingrays) in Raja Ampat, elsewhere in the world are hard to find.

From a duyun perspective, in other places in Indonesia, they want to go extinct, but in Papua there are still many. Interestingly, leatherback turtles when he is laying eggs in Tambauw, he will cross the Pacific Ocean until he reaches California in the United States, then he returns to West Papua (Tambrauw) to lay eggs. This shows that West Papua is very important for marine biota throughout the world.

West Papua also has the largest population of whale sharks in the world. Most easy for tourists to see. We give a sign to the whale in the Cenderawasih Bay and how, we see he can go to Sulawesi to Australia. There are some who only live in Cenderawasih Bay, but there are some who can go to Sulawesi, Australia, Papua New Guinea.

We also have sharks that run fins. For Papuans, this might be a common thing, but this shark fin is not found anywhere else in the world, only in West Papua. There are five species of road fin sharks in West Papua. It has become a tourist attraction that is extraordinary. The Giant Stingray in Raja Ampat, 6.4 meters in length, is the largest in the world. There are also 16 species of dolphins that can be found in West Papua.

One more interesting thing is the puri fish, this small fish is the basis of the food chain that is in the sea of ??West Papua, and that is still a lot. But unfortunately, there are so many fishermen who come from outside to spend this. Perhaps this is one thing that needs to be considered in making regulations in West Papua to ensure the existence of this puri fish. If the puri fish do not exist, then Tenggiri will also not exist, the Pope and others will not exist in West Papua. We also have a wonderful jellyfish lake, nowhere else except in Palau.

Based on input from 25 international and Indonesian experts, Papua was named as the number 1 priority for developing conservation, because West Papua has a very extraordinary habitat for marine biota, and another reason is because evolution is still ongoing in this region. Our evolution thinks it happened millions of years ago, but in West Papua we can find evolution still happening, and new species can emerge.

If we think about the value of Papua's natural resources, then there are three things that are most important, the first is the food security of local people, that is of extraordinary importance. He also has cultural value and now the value of marine tourism is extraordinary.

Now to realize PK from the sea side, West Papua has 20 marine conservation areas (waters) which cover an area of ??4.6 million hectares and have been built in the last 20 years. Community patrols and officials have succeeded in suppressing the practice of fish bombing in almost all MPAs. So you can say there is success.

So if there is collaboration between the Government and the community, it can be successful. Fishery yields have also increased. We see that fish biomass in Raja Ampat waters has increased in the last 20 years. So the local community can catch more fish than before. So people think conservation is to ban-prohibit-prohibit, actually not really. Conservation can actually be very beneficial to local communities.

So talking about the Province of Sustainable Development, it is for local people in West Papua, not for people who come from far away. From a tourism perspective, conservation is very helpful. If previously Raja Ampat, now has developed into the Cenderawasih Bay, Kaimana and several places that attract divers to enjoy, both internationally and Indonesia.

In 2001 there was only 1 resort owned by Max Hammers and 1 live board that arrived, there were 300 guests who arrived. In 2018 there are 12 resorts, 59 liveabroards, 130 homestays and nearly 30 thousand guests coming from 95 countries. And we have not calculated the overall economic value. But if you see from the ticket to the environmental service guests, that's more than 2 million dollars until 2018, while 2019 is even higher, even though I don't have that last number yet.

The principle of the PK is to recognize and ensure the rights of indigenous Papuans to manage, enjoy and utilize Papua's rich natural resources for the future of Papuan children and grandchildren in a sustainable manner in accordance with local culture.

I think, we must understand and acknowledge that this is a very advanced concept and regulation, if we compare it with other places in the world. West Papua can be proud of the existence of this Perdasus, and I hope it can be resolved quickly.

I live in New Zealand, a country that is not as advanced as the one in West Papua, but is quite advanced in terms of regulation. They have so many regulations to guarantee the rights of indigenous people, the Mauri people. In the last year there was a regulation or legal product that came out that I found very interesting, based on Mauri beliefs, that rivers and mountains actually have the same rights as humans. He (Mountains and rivers) is sacred and he is very important. In the regulation it entered, so if anyone destroys rivers and mountains, will be sued. Now this is very interesting concept. That's something that has been applied in New Zealand, and this is probably something you can think of.

Now we focus on Perdasus, which is nearing completion, we hope that we will succeed in realizing this big dream. Thank you!

Written by: Ab Yomo



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