Yogyakarta (ANTARA) - Customary law communities are spearheading efforts to protect marine conservation areas in Indonesia, according to director general of marine spatial management of the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Victor Gustaf Manoppo.

"Customary law communities have local wisdom to protect marine conservation areas on the coast because they are aware that that is their source of living," he said at the 2023 National Customary Forum in Yogyakarta on Friday.

According to him, marine conservation areas in Indonesia only account for 28.9 million hectares or 8.9 percent of the territorial sea area, and they will continue to be expanded till they make up 30 percent of the area by 2045.

"Why do we need to expand marine conservation areas? Because that is where we can get oxygen for life," he explained.

Manoppo affirmed that his ministry is striving to assist customary law communities to get legality from local district governments and urging ministries and agencies to empower the communities jointly.

He highlighted that those communities must not be left behind in terms of economy. Therefore, their capacity must be strengthened so that they can be empowered, he added.

He further said that data on the potential of customary law communities needs to be collected so that the communities can get training and become capable of producing mainstay commodities as well as receive marketing support.

Senior manager of Bird's Head Seascape of the Nusantara Nature Conservation Foundation (YKAN), Lukas Rumetna, said that customary law communities have a customary council that devises marine conservation regulations, which can later be implemented by conservation area managers.

"We facilitated the formation of the Werur Customary Council in Bikar sub-district, Tambrau district, Southwest Papua, and then they established a prohibition on fishing, and it was implemented by the conservation area manager," he said.

He revealed that since the customary council was formed, which issued a ban related to water areas, the community has benefited from the increasing fish catch.

According to him, customary law is respected highly by the local community. Thus, it is very effective in supporting conservation areas.

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Translator: Budhi Santoso, Raka Adji
Editor: Azis Kurmala
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