Initiative and Awareness of Fishermen to Release the Sea Turtle

19 Aug 2015
Indah Rufiati

Wawan Maira, or ‘Wawan’, is one of the more active tuna fishermen fishing for tuna in South Buru, Maluku and is also a member of the Fair Trade Fishers program in the area. Wawan has been fishing for tuna for 3 years. Previously, he was a helper and fished under captains on other vessels, but now he has fiber-boat with a small engine to captain his own vessel. According to him, tuna fisheries have the potential to generate a good income and returns for investment can be good… He has been able to buy a boat, fulfill family’s everyday  needs, and send his children to school since becoming a tuna fisherman, all of which was much more difficult in the past.

Having attended a socialization event conducted by MDPI in his village on ETPs (Endangered, Threatened and Protected),  Wawan visited the MDPI office the following day. Wawan had been keeping a hawksbills turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) in his house as a pet and his intention was to release it back into the sea. The sea turtle was obtained while he was fishing for tuna. At that time, he saw a small turtle in difficulty and deeply fatigued trying to swim and mount some pieces of floating wood. Wawan says that the turtle in its “weak and helpless condition was being blindly dragged by the ocean currents”. He finally decided to bring it home and look after it at his home. After learning that sea turtles are a species categorized as ETP, meaning they are in danger of extinction within the near future throughout all or a significant portion of its range and additionally that turtles have broad benefits for the marine ecosystem he decided to take initiative and release it. On top of his own conscience and new understanding, Wawan now also understand that there are national and international laws in place to protect turtles and other ETPs.

On the initiative and awareness of Wawan to release the sea turtle back into the sea, on June 23, 2015, MDPI coordinated with the village government, the whole group of fishermen and local communities to jointly carry out the release of hawksbill turtle that was kept by Wawan. At Nalbessy beach, Wawan and his son Fajar, let the turtle to return to live and thrive in the wild environment.

This is one of our initial steps in the protection of ETPs animals on the road to sustainable fishing practices. We expect that Wawan and many other fishers will start to be fully aware about the importance of sea turtles in the ecosystem. It is very heartwarming that fishermen have their own initiatives to do this important and meaningful step. Thank you, Wawan Maira!

Wawan Maira, while seriously following ETPs socialization. Photo Credit: MDPI

Writers: Wildan and Indah Rufiati

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