17 Mar Assessing Community Awareness of Dugong Conservation in Lease Islands

CTC’s “Kalesang Dugong” project is currently underway in the Lease Islands Marine Protected Area (MPA) in Maluku. The latest activity was a perception survey about dugongs, their habitat, and community participation in their conservation in Saparua Island. The findings revealed that, despite the majority of respondents already being aware of the existence of dugongs in their villages, there is a need for more information and increased knowledge in order to protect the charismatic marine mammal.

The survey was conducted in four target villages on Saparua Island, namely Mahu, Ihamahu, Porto, and Booi, over a four-day period from February 21 to 24, 2023. Using a purposive random sampling technique, the survey was successful in reaching 121 respondents, including fishers, indigenous communities, and women groups. To gain some social background and context, a discussion was held between the local government staff and enumerators  before the activity began.

The survey’s preliminary results showed that although most respondents were able to correctly identify the images of dugongs and seagrass beds, some respondents were still unsure about it.  Majority of the respondents also reported observing severe weather patterns, which can be attributed to climate change, that led to changes in local fishing patterns and thereby affecting sources of income for fishermen’s households.

In terms of social inclusion, respondents noted differences in opportunities for women and youth to participate in the decision-making process in managing  village affairs. This suggests that, although the community system may have provided opportunities for everyone to voice their opinions, social inclusion in decision-making at village level is likely to be limited and may not involve all members of the community.

The CTC team are further analyzing the survey results and will use the findings to support the development of village regulations in Saparua for the conservation of Dugongs and their habitats in the area. The development of village regulations will also consider the socio-economic conditions and help ensure an inclusive process that will take into account the various perspectives of community members and stakeholders in Saparua.

 The Kalesang Dugong project, which is set to run until mid-2024, aims to protect dugongs and their critical habitat in the Lease Islands MPA. In collaboration with the Baileo Foundation and the Department of Marine Affairs and Fisheries (DKP) of the Maluku Province, CTC is implementing the project to support the Lease Islands MPA management authority and local coastal community members in conserving their marine biodiversity and resources.

The project also seeks to ensure that these resources are used sustainably, based on local wisdom, to improve the welfare of the people living in the Lease Islands. Furthermore, CTC is committed to paying attention to and including different social groups, such as Indigenous Peoples, fishermen, women and youths, by ensuring gender equity and empowering and involving local community groups.

Writers: Purwanto, Gerald Istia, Yoga Putra
Photos: Purwanto/CTC & Gerald Istia/CTC

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