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SOSF: Pantura Bercerita “North Coast Java Telling Story”, Protect Wedgefish and Giant Guitarfish in their Habitat

Ditulis oleh Admin | 15 February 2022


Fisheries activities had being carried out for centuries on the North Coast of Java. University of Amsterdam had recorded that fisheries had been conducted in the Java Sea since the 1800s. However, it is possible that fishing pressure in Java Sea carried out before that when the ports of North Coast Java became a trading center in the 14th century.

Until finally in 2019, two families of rays which commonly caught and landed by fishers were categorized as critically endangered according to The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). There were Wedgefish and Giant guitarfish, two ray families which closely related to sawfish. Sawfish can be said can no longer be found in many Indonesian waters. These rays are highlighted by the worldwide and it must be managed immediately or they can be threatened with extinction like sawfish.

Recorded by Rekam Nusantara Foundation, at least more than 7,000 individual rays have been caught and landed since 2019 to 2020 in the Java Sea. This was a good news and showed these critically endangered rays are still exists in the Java Sea, raised a hope for its preservation. However, promoting fisheries management and conservation in the Java Sea to the communities of the North Coast of Java was a formidable challenge. This effort must be done immediately because it is a race against extinction.

Benaya Simeon from the Fisheries Resource Center of Indonesia (FRCI) revealed that at least more than 200,000 fishermen fished in the Java Sea with large fish landing centers in the North Coast Java. “The population density in North Coast Java is one of the things that must be considered in order to make management efforts that prioritize the values ​​of humanism. Management must not sacrifice food security and community livelihoods. This management must be a strong bridge between sustainability and the welfare of the North Coast Java communities" she said.

As member from the IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC) – Shark Specialist Group, she considered that conservation effort need to get “win win solution”, community support is needed to make the management reach a consensus. However, the preliminary survey of community perceptions and understandings showed different results. From the 3 main landing sites: Tegalsari Coastal Fishing Port – Tegal, Bajomulyo Coastal Fishing Port – Pati, and Tasikagung Coastal Fishing Port – Rembang, the community showed high understanding of marine sustainability and sustainable fisheries management. But this community also discovered that there was unwanted truth, that their old sea had been change. They assumed that government is the one that must be responsible for all these situations.

One of the efforts to promote the conservation effort was invite the public to know about the importance of conservation and sustainable fisheries by audio-visual media, namely a documentary video. Rekam Nusantara Foundation has made three short films in a Pantura Bercerita or “North Coast Java Telling Story” Trilogy which supported by Save Our Seas Foundation (SOSF). This trilogy is an invitation to the North Coast Java community to make a joint effort for the wedgefish and the giant guitarfish conservation movement, to protect the wedgefish and the giant guitarfish from extinction.

The director of this trilogy is Fachrudin, a man who comes from Batang, a city from North Coast Java. He mentioned that these trilogy was made with community closely. The first film told about facts where wedgefish and giant guitarfish gave blessings for generations in the North Coast Java. Blessings for fish processor, fish traders, and food stall owners. The second film, told a journey to find wedgefish and giant guitarfish in the Java Sea which has been hardly to find. This was also confirmed by the opinion of Prof. Aristi Dian Purnama Fitri from Diponegoro University. "Mostly, we have not realized until these species are gone," she said. The third film was a well-wrapped part, showed the efforts of the community to respect their old sea.

Een Irawan Putra, Executive Director of Rekam Nusantara Foundation, has worked in the field of conservation and campaigning on environmental issues for years. He believed that films are the strongest strategy to touch the community through inspirational stories as well as learning. “Through the process of making the film, we can also understand the values ​​and issues in society that have not been heard of. All of these processes are then packaged into a strong link between the community, academics, and policy makers, so that the management process emphasizes inclusive values ​​for both nature and humans who utilized it,” said the man who studied forestry a lot.

Conservation efforts of the wedgefish and the giant guitarfish are consistently being echoed to make a loud noise. In the international scope this effort was also made to show that Indonesia are continuing to move together for its sustainability. Benaya Simeon who is also a member of IUCN Indonesia, built a dialogue with Dr. David Ebert and Ryan Daly on Beyond Jaws, American Elasmobranch Society. The dialogue presented collaborative efforts to raise expectations for the management of wedgefish and giant guitarfish in Indonesia.

Of course, this movement and invitation did not stop at the North Coast Java. Calls for the management and protection of wedgefish and guitarfish were echoed in other provinces across Indonesia. The Pantura trilogy has been screened and watched simultaneously in Aceh, Bengkulu, Bogor, Tegal, Pati, Rembang, Lamongan, Lombok, and other locations. This is a call to a big movement for protect the sea and its wealth so the blessings could be inherited to the next generations.

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