Seaweed Farmer Woman in Seram, Trying to Be Strong in the Middle of Climate Change

%When IKN Comes, Indigenous People Are Worried That Traditions Will Disappear%

This view is commonly seen in Wael Hamlet, Piru Village, West Seram Regency, Maluku. Meanwhile, there are also mothers who participate in harvesting, drying and routinely going to the cultivation area to help their husbands. Of all the mothers, one of them is Wa Kalsum.

He told Mongabay that he often went back and forth between Wael Hamlet and the waters of Pulau Pangkalan to monitor the seaweed fields. With a jukung , she used to accompany her husband, La Yaman.

“Cleaning the moss and trash that sticks to the seaweed,” he explained, describing his goal.

“It will turn pale in color and is susceptible to ice-ice disease. 

He has been doing similar activities since 2004, although he stopped in 2016 when the waste from the sago processing factory polluted the waters in his hamlet, but now it has become his routine.

His current activities include not only cleaning up trash and moss, but also lowering the stretch ropes when it rains.

At a minimum, the seaweed must be 50 cm underwater. Conversely, when it is hot and windy, it needs to be raised until it touches the surface, when the water moves, it sways.

Apart from these activities, Wa Kalsum was also involved during the harvest. He doesn’t dry all of the crops, he also saves them for seeds. Harvest time is usually 45 days for seaweed seeds weighing 150-200 grams, while for seeds weighing 100 grams, 2 months.

Similar work is also done by Safiana. She said, the beginning of seaweed cultivation in 2022, often helps her husband Syahidin Ali Maruf. Safina is in charge of tying buoys when seaweed seeds are about to be installed in the waters.

Wa Kalsum and Safiana’s complaint is a small snapshot of climate change experienced by the majority of the wives of seaweed cultivators.

Extra Caring Amidst Changing Weather

In the report on Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience (APIK) in Maluku for 2016–2020 published by The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) it is stated that the climate in Seram has a different category, compared to other areas of Maluku such as the Aru Islands.

The Maluku Province Climate Vulnerability and Risk Study published on the basis of historical data states that in Maluku Province there is a C [local] climate and some parts A [monsoonal].

Referring to the climate zone map, Maluku has a tropical climate classification. Local, monsoonal and equatorial rainfall patterns. Most of Maluku has a local climate, when it is at the peak of the rainy season in July and January. This is the phenomenon of El Nino and La Nina during 1901-2000. Meanwhile, monsoonal rains shift to the beginning of the rainy season and dry season.

Gede Junaedhi and Joko Trilaksono in the report in 2017, carried out statistical downscaling of the IPCC Global Climate Model which shows an increase in air temperature between 0.5 C to 1.5 C.

In the average projection made, the temperature in the Maluku islands in 2025, which is taken from the minimum temperature data, tends to indicate climate change. The trend will increase in 2026 -2035, characterized by the potential for drought in the dry season and flooding during the rainy season.

Since January 2023, Wa Ima has been spending more time at the cultivation location, the waters of Dusun Air Pessy. La Samiun’s wife is leveling the mounds of half-wet seaweed in the drying area. In his yard, purple seaweed exposed under the hot sun.

“If there is no rain, the dried seaweed only takes three days,” he explained to Mongabay (17/5/2023).

Apart from drying the seaweed, her routine also helps clean the moss from the stretched ropes at the cultivation site. He also often planted seeds when the stretch was in water.

Wa Ima said, even in the midst of unpredictable weather, the seaweed harvest was fairly good.

Loss of Cat Fur

Apart from the challenges of climate change, there are also obstacles faced by these cultivators. Apart from ice-ice disease, there is also cat hair disease.

That is what Ramli, a seaweed cultivator, is currently facing. An attack of cat hair disease infects seaweed at his cultivation location, he has been struggling to deal with it for about a week.

Cat hair itself is a disease that attacks seaweed caused by epiphytes attached to the seaweed thallus. In a study, it was stated that silt deposits from being carried by the waters were the cause of the spread of cat fur.

Even though there is a series of events, Ramli is reluctant to link it to climate change. He only suspected that the more frequent rains, had brought the flow of river water into the sea waters.

The 44-year-old man, a resident of Dusun Wael, said that in order not to spread quickly, he pulled out the diseased seaweed one by one. However, if the attack is massive, it is necessary to release the stretched rope from the main ropes, remove the infected seaweed, and leave those that are not.

Ramli also experienced cat hair disease attacks by cultivators in Pulau Osi Hamlet. Characteristics, there is like fine hair and brownish. When seaweed is infected, the thallus becomes rough and its productivity decreases.

This situation has also been faced by Wa Ima. Even the seaweed has been touched by cat hair. However, he has his own tips, based on the results of his field experiments.

If any of the seaweed is infected with cat hair, he soaks it in a container of detergent for about 10-15 minutes. After that removed and rinsed with water until clean. This way, for him has been practiced for so long.

From the attic of his house, it turned out that there were still 10 bales of nylon rope left over from previous cultivation. He then bought 500 kg of seaweed seeds. He is optimistic that even though climate change is in sight, the plants will produce.

He also believes he can save his seaweed if it gets sick. “Because my wife, painstaking and diligent goes to the location of seaweed cultivation to clean,” he explained.

The success of seaweed cultivation cannot be separated from the role of women. They are patient, diligent and diligent in taking care of the plants. Wa Kalsum, Safiana and Wa Ima are examples. For them, the key is to diligently treat and clean the seaweed every day, despite still struggling with the ever-changing climate.

A Stories of Fishermen Against Bekingan

Sudin, Chair of Commission IV of the DPR RI was furious to find entrepreneurs in Batam who dared to carry out reclamation in protected forests, river estuaries, and massively piled up mangrove trees.

Suddenly Sudin will summon businessmen and local government in Batam to Jakarta in the near future. “Take all the information, in the near future summon all of them to Jakarta,” said Sudin during a sudden inspection (sidak) of the reclamation of the Hulu Panglong river, Batu Besar, Nongsa District, Batam City, Thursday 6 July 2023.

This reclamation point is the final point of the DPR RI’s oversight agenda with the Gakum Ministry of Environment and Forestry (KLHK), Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (KKP), Peat and Mangrove Restoration Agency (BRGM) for two days in Batam City, 5-6 July 2023 Not only carrying out reclamation inspections, this group also inspected large-scale shrimp ponds in forest areas that damaged mangroves in Rempang, Batam City.

Not long after arriving in Batam City, Sudin and his entourage went straight to the location of the inspection point. There are at least 20 group cars that go together to the location from Batam’s Hang Nadim Airport.

The group headed to the Rempang Island area of ​​Batam City. At this location an inspection was carried out at a large-scale shrimp pond on the coast of Rempang Island.

Shrimp ponds are operational. Not only on Rempang Island, you can also see the small island in front of the inspection site. Coastal forests on the island including mangroves were cleared, turning them into shrimp ponds.

The Director General of Environmental and Forestry Law Enforcement at the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Ratio Ridho Sani, immediately met the pond owners. Owners are also asked to show business license documents. “For this shrimp pond, our team found criminal indications, we will take legal steps,” said Ridho.

It is known that the first shrimp pond that was the target of the inspection belonged to PT Dwimitra Mandiri Prima. This company manages four ponds with an area of ​​9 hectares. When met by Mongabay Indonesia, one of the pond managers was reluctant to comment.

The entrepreneur’s mode of tricking licensing is by registering a shrimp pond business on a micro scale. But in the field of shrimp ponds on a large scale. “If you look at the money, it’s already billions, permits are being proposed by MSMEs,” he said.

This pond can operate due to lack of supervision. This is because the KLHK’s Gakkum only has three personnel in Batam. Apart from that, the Ministry of Environment and Forestry has a minimal budget for Gakkum.

The sub-department confirmed that it is clear that there is a lot of mangrove hoarding even though mangroves are very important for the resilience of small islands. “Criminal law definitely exists, we will check first, then we will talk about legal matters,” said the PDIP politician.

KKP PSDKP Director General Adin Nurawaluddin said shrimp ponds also violated Law 27 of 2014 regarding the management of small islands and coastal areas, which stated that logging, destruction and conversion of mangrove forests were prohibited.

Adin didn’t only see the damage to mangroves, he said, this shrimp pond company also violated the correct standard shrimp pond management techniques. “The IPAL also did not meet the standards, so we finally sealed it, solely to warn entrepreneurs,” said Adin.

In addition, Adin also highlighted that shrimp ponds violated the Batam City RT/RW spatial plan. Batam actually has no allotment for shrimp ponds. “For now we are giving free opportunities, in the past few months there have been no changes (RT/RW) we will completely close the ponds,” he said.

Next, the inspection targeted the PT Tahai Sunhok Jaya Utama pond, which was not far from the first pond. The area of ​​the shrimp ponds in this company is 12 hectares.

The pond manager’s acknowledgment to the DPR RI, shrimp ponds have been operating for 4 years with 9 harvests. “I bought this land from local residents, there is a land certificate,” said the pond manager when asked by a Member of the Indonesian Parliament.

This pond is also installed with a warning sign from the KKP, that it is prohibited to carry out activities. It is suspected that all ponds in Batam do not have permits, because there is no land allotment in Batam for this one business.

The next day the inspection continued to the reclamation point area. The first point of the visit by Sudin and his entourage took place at the Tering Bay Coast, Batam Center, Batam City.

The group was shocked, seeing that the coast on Batam Island had turned into land from a pile of reclaimed land. It is clear that new landfills have been made a few months ago. “It’s only been four months (the stockpiling),” said Yudi the security guard in the area when asked about the Legal Aid from the Ministry of Environment and Forestry.

The actions taken by the company included criminal acts, both criminal acts in Law No.41/1999 concerning Forestry and Law No.18/2013 concerning Forest Prevention and Destruction as well as Law No.31/2009 concerning Environmental Management Protection. “We have ordered our investigators to investigate,” said Ridho.

Ridho continued, not only that the company also violated the Law on small islands and coasts which was under the authority of the KKP. The Ministry of Environment and Forestry will conduct an investigation together with the Directorate General of PSDKP KKP to explore the case. “So this is a multi-layered crime,” said Ridho.

The inspection group continued to the next reclamation point, namely on the Panglong Hulu River Coast, Batu Besar, Nongsa Batam. At the reclamation site, several fishermen were already waiting for the inspection group to arrive.

“We are the ones who feel the impact of this reclamation sir, our catch has decreased, we want to be given Rp. 1 million in compensation, that is not comparable, because this river can help us for the rest of our lives,” Mustafa said, one of the fishermen complained to Sudin during a spot inspection.

Sudin together with the Gakkum of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry promised to fishermen that they would investigate the illegal reclamation case. “Sir, calm down, we will check the permit, even though this is a clear violation, because this is damaging the river,” Ridho said to the fishermen.

Ridho also directly contacted the local government, both provincial and city, to confirm the reclamation permit in this area. The result is no permissions at all.

“This is definitely a violation, I asked to put up a warning sign here,” said Ridho to the Gakkum officers. The KLHK’s Gakkum officers immediately put up a warning sign so there was no activity in the area.

Chairman of Commission IV DPR RI, Sudin, said that the reclamation area also damaged protected forests, although a little. “Although a little, but it’s a protected forest,” he said.

In addition to violating the destruction of protected forests, reclamation also fills up river bodies, even though the rules clearly state that there must be 100 meters left of the river body line.

Nongsa fishermen

One of the Nongsa fishermen not only complained that their catch had decreased. They also mentioned that the development company was supported by a two-star state apparatus.

Sudin responded to the report, he did not care about the existing backing. “Earlier there were complaints from fishermen, there was a demonstration, but it didn’t work either to stop this reclamation activity, meaning this is a great developer and a champion. God’s backing for us,” he said.

If this is indeed backed by law enforcement agencies, it means that these officials do not know that the developer’s activities are damaging the environment. “And of course this backing must be unscrupulous, I’m sure all of our officers are good, no one protects environmental crimes. this is already an environmental crime,” said Sudin.

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