05 Jun Managing Waste in Small Islands to Strengthen MPA Management  

Plastic waste poses a significant threat to the dugong population and seagrass ecosystem in the Lease Islands marine protected area (MPA) in Maluku. To mitigate the negative impact of plastic waste on the marine environment, CTC organized a training program on household waste management for women and provided education on waste for primary school students and teachers on Saparua Island as part of the “Kalesang Dugong” project.

During a three-day event held from April 12 to 14, 2023, CTC was in partnership with the Baileo Maluku Foundation and Toma Maju Lease, a non-profit organization based in Saparua that specializes in waste management. The training featured several professional trainers and speakers and was attended by 17 participants from the villages of Mahu, Ihamahu, Porto, Paperu, and Booi.

The training participants were equipped with knowledge on domestic waste management, identifying different types of waste, and the threats of single-use plastic waste to coastal and marine ecosystems. The sessions also covered the principles of reuse, reduce, and recycle, and interesting practices such as organic waste composting using biopores and making eco-bricks and handicrafts from plastic waste.

“CTC’s waste management training was much more comprehensive than our previous trainings as it provided us with information on the different types of waste and how to deal with them properly. We also learned about the harm that plastic waste can cause to sea animals like fish, turtles, and dugongs,” said Sally Louhenapessy, a female representative from Mahu Village.

As follow-up, participants will share information about plastic waste management with their peers in their villages. Some of them are also exploring ways to make plastic waste as an extra income for the household or to support social activities in their communities. However, their main challenge is finding buyers for the sorted plastic waste as there are no waste collectors in Saparua.

In response to this challenge, on April 13th, CTC held a high-level meeting with representatives from various organizations including the Department of Fisheries and Marine Affairs (DKP) Maluku, Department of Environment (DLH) Maluku Province, Department of Environment and Solid Waste of the Maluku Tengah Regency, sub-districts, villages, and PT Milion Limbah Ambon (MLA). In the meeting, CTC presented and shared information about all the activities conducted during the first phase of the “Kalesang Dugong” project. The female trainees also had fruitful discussions about waste management in the Lease Islands with government and private sector representatives.

One of the proposed programs is the establishment of a waste bank on Saparua Island, which will be initiated by PT LMA, Toma Maju Lease, and the local government. The waste bank is designed to buy sorted and clean plastic waste deposits from households in Saparua and other area in the Lease Islands MPA as raw material for plastic processing, which will be carried out by PT LMA in Ambon City, thus supporting the circular economy in the islands.

During our visit to Saparua, CTC conducted three awareness-raising events at local elementary schools in Mahu, Ihamahu, and Booi, with the participation of 133 students and teachers. The events aimed to raise awareness of proper waste management practices and distribute collateral to local youth. These events were supposed to be followed by a beach clean-up activity, but it had to be postponed due to the high tide season. However, CTC and Baileo Maluku plan to reschedule the clean-up later this year in coordination with Toma Maju Lease.

Until 2024, the “Kalesang Dugong” project in the Lease Islands MPA will focus more on citizen science data collection through dugong observations in the waters around the islands. Additionally, ongoing discussions with the local community leaders, government officials, and other stakeholders will aim to establish a village-level regulation to protect dugongs and their seagrass ecosystems. The long-term goal of protecting this umbrella species is to positively impact the effectiveness of conservation areas and promote sustainable fisheries.

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

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