Natural Conservation in Raja Ampat
Natural Conservation in Raja Ampat
Natural Conservation in Raja Ampat – Underwater paradise. Thus most people know Raja Ampat, the group of islands and the sea at the head of the island of Papua. In line with that, the local government also established Raja Ampat as a maritime district. It cannot be separated from the main resources there: the sea, coral reefs, and fish.
The sea is so central for Raja Ampat today, especially in the era of tourism (maritime) that has been going on for the past two decades. However, the relationship between the Raja Ampat community and the sea is not a new relationship. Both have been intimate relationships long ago, complete with all the bittersweetness.
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Raja Ampat has gone through various phases that help us understand human and sea relations. Starting from the pre-trade era, the trade era, and the tourism era. From there you will see the tensions that occur, as well as how tourism is renewing and renovating Raja Ampat sea-human relations.
In the past times
Mr. Orgenes sat stunned in front of his homestay in Saporkren Village.
“Nature is Mother. “Giving birth to a human being, ready to give life, is also ready to accompany humans to rest forever,” he said suddenly.
His words reflect the special relationship between humans and nature in Raja Ampat. This 60-year-old man seems to remember the old days, long before tourists filled the sea of Raja Ampat.
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Natural Conservation in Raja Ampat – The romantic story of the sea and humans in Raja Ampat is sweetly portrayed by many elderly citizens. They do not forget how their parents are always careful in finding fish so as not to damage the coral reef. (Although the present generation is sceptical whether older people understand that good coral reefs can invite fish to come)
As a fishing community, they establish relationships with the sea through the realization that they live from what the sea provides. They feel and experience for themselves that the sea treats people well, always giving them what they need every day. In return, parents always teach their children how humans should treat the sea.
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They live well off. The elderly fishermen still remember very well: their elders catch fish just to eat every day. If there is more fish supply, they will dry it for consumption the next day. That way, they don’t have to go to sea every day.
During those times, about 30 years ago, the story of the relationship between humans and the sea in Raja Ampat was intimate. As the philosopher Roger Scruton put it, in pre-modern societies that are synonymous with animal hunting activities (including fishing), there are an intimate relationship and mutual respect between nature and humans.
Humans and The Sea
What happened in Raja Ampat in the pre-trade era was a parallel relationship between humans and the sea. There is no human or non-human superiority. The sea lives with humans, not against humans. Vice versa. This is influenced by awareness and understanding that the sea is not something exterior and other, but rather, writes Mike Brown in Seascapes, an important part of who we are.
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So, the sea is part of Raja Ampat’s people. Vice versa. Both practically and ontologically, the relationship between the two is inseparable. Citing Ian McNiven in the Sentient Sea, the sea is not only a setting for human experiences, but also an active actor in twisting Raja Ampat-style life.
Orgenes, at the beginning of this section, has referred to nature as Mother. The mother-child relationship is sacred, because it is related to the events of birth and death, and what happens between them: life. So, in addition to spiritually, humans and the Raja Ampat sea are also practically bound. The sea “gives life” to humans there, as an endless source of food.
Then Enter Money
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As with human relations, there are times when the natural and human relationships loosen up. There are several factors that drive changes in sea-human relations in Raja Ampat. The need for money is a determining factor.
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In the past, the Raja Ampat community did not need money for various daily needs. Slowly but surely, money then becomes so dominant as a means of payment. Communities in Saporkren Village, for example, began to recognize this system in the early 1990s. Trading activities are increasingly common among people. They fulfil their daily needs by buying it at Waisai or Sorong.
In addition, the geographical closeness between Saporkren and urban areas gives people the opportunity to work in the trade sector. Finally, they neglect the sea as Mother and make it a mere field of money. Exploitation. Domination.
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