HISTORY BEHIND NO FISHING ZONE IN RAJA AMPAT (PART II)

Illegal fish catches in Raja Ampat peaked around 1990’s to early 2000s. Live fish transport vessels from Hong Kong guarded by corrupt military frequent the area. More and more people involved in this business. At the same time, Raja Ampat that was once in the memory of the elder water teem with fish saw their environment destroyed in great extent.

A lot of native Raja Ampat worked and involved in the illegal fishing as it was the only job available to provide for the family. Herman Mayor owner of Daroyen Village was one of them. He worked in 1986 – 1989. Being born in Raja Ampat as the oldest in family, he work as a crew to support parents and siblings. The ship he worked were large trawler and later moved to blast fishing to catch fish.

Because of these dangerous activity, he and other crews boat were arrested in 1988 but released the same year.

Later that year, Herman decided enough and went to work in grouper aqua farm. A program supported by government to promote sustainable fishing industry.

In 1995 his father Marianus met Max Ammer who were looking to lease land on Kri island and ask him to work for his new eco resort that later known as Kri Eco Resort.

Marianus and his son Herman to join him and two other men Habel Sauyai and Boas Sauyai to work for Max Ammer.  These four people were the first employees that built the first resort in Raja Ampat. The year of 1995 was the year Herman introduction to hospitality business. Under Max Ammer, he worked various job as a construction, boat captain, mechanic, guide, etc.

By the early 2000s large fish operations began to disappear and fishers targeted small fish to supply the ornamental fish trade. The early 2000s was also a blessing. This is the time when several conservation NGO started to notice Raja Ampat. They actively began to raise awareness of the destructive effects of cyanide and blast fishing.

The awareness program have had some positive impacts. Many Raja Ampat fishers understand the importance of protecting the ocean that have provide food for generation. They stopped blast and cyanide fishing, shifting instead to longlines and gillnets which are more environmentally friendly.

Churches in the villages across Raja Ampat have actively promoted conservation in the sermons as well elders lead the way in self-imposed ban on use of destructive fishing methods. Local fishers who engage in blast fishing are despised by village chiefs and local elders.

The message of conservation has inspired villagers to support the implementation of large area of no fishing zone that we see today.

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