30 Jan Enhancing ‘Pejuang Laut’ Knowledge to Advocate for Actions in Protecting the Sea

The Coral Triangle Center (CTC) provides fundamental support for its Local Champions, called Pejuang Laut, to build their skills and knowledge to become influential leaders in their community. Seven high performing Pejuang Laut, namely Sarna Sibela and Nurhasni Yoisangadji from the Sula Islands, Merfiana Aponno and Yunus Siahay from the Lease Islands, and Megi Pesirahu, Reni Nusaaly and Musa Mahelatu from Buano Island, were selected to attend the 2020 Champion Training in Ambon, Maluku, from January 27-30. CTC encouraged more women to participate in the training arranged by the USAID Sustainable Ecosystems Advanced (USAID SEA) Project. The training itself aimed to equip the Pejuang Laut with the knowledge and basic skills to advocate for local action to protect the sea from illegal fishing and other threats.

Pejuang Laut, who were engaged through the USAID SEA Project, are key persons in MPA establishment in Maluku and North Maluku Provinces. They play a significant role in promoting sustainable fisheries and protecting endangered, threatened and protected (ETP) marine species.

Megi Pesirahu, CTC’s Pejuang Laut who is acknowledged as one of the USAID SEA Champions of Champions, shared her inspiring story of advocating for the establishment of an MPA in her home island, Buano Island in Maluku Province. “I want to protect the sea that has been providing for the people in Buano with its abundant resources of fish, coral reefs and mangroves to support livelihoods there” said Megi, while sharing her thoughts about her role as a Pejuang Laut. She was engaged by CTC as one of the Woman Pejuang Laut as she showed concern and a continuous effort to influence her community in South Buano Village to change their behavior towards the sea. In her daily routine as an elementary school teacher, Megi also extends her knowledge about ETP marine species to her students so that they can learn about protected species and what to do if they find any stranded species nearby. She also encouraged her students to stop trash from entering the sea.

Another interesting story also came up from Sarna Sibela, a newly engaged Pejuang Laut from the Sula Islands. She said that she used to have no idea about ETP marine species and why they need to be protected. “I am a fisheries extension officer, but I did not have any knowledge of ETP marine species nor marine protected areas. CTC is helping me to build my knowledge through several training sessions on MPA establishment and ETP marine species” explained Sarna, who participated in the Champions Training for the first time. After participating in the four-days training and being formally announced as a Pejuang Laut, she feels that now she has a responsibility to take on a significant role in marine conservation. “ I have to share the knowledge of the importance of MPA establishment to protect the marine ecosystems for sustainable fisheries, and why we need to protect the ETP marine species, with the community, specifically the fishermen whom I used to meet in my daily work” Sarna said.

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