‘Haholok’ may be used to protect seas

07, Oct 2015 | Author: Embassy of Indonesia

Source  :  Jakarta Post

Communities in Rote Ndao regency in East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) are promoting the haholok tradition, a customary way of preserving the environment.

The tradition, also called papadak by the community in the regency, which is located on Indonesian’s southernmost island, has long been applied on the island, for example by banning people from damaging the environment.

“We are now disseminating the idea to 19 nusak [traditional groups] of makinghaholok applicable also at sea,” Rote Ndao Culture Caring Custom Leader Communication Forum (FKTAPB) chairman Johanis Ndolu told The Jakarta Postrecently.

Established in 2002 after separating from Kupang regency, Rote Ndao is known for its natural richness, both biological and non-biological. The regency consists of six main islands, including Rote and Ndao islands.

Haholok, according to Johanis, recognizes customary rules aimed at preserving the environment for the benefit of the people.

Providing examples, Johanis said that the tradition banned people from cutting down trees in protected forests or near water resources. It also bans people from taking water directly from a spring, requiring that water only be drawn with a 10 kilometer radius of the spring.

Haholok, he said, also regulated the sanctions for violators of the customary rules, with fines in the form of money or produce such as corn, rice and livestock.

“These punishments have to be agreed by everyone in the 19 nusak,” Johanis said.

The tradition has, according to Johanis, always been applied and received well in the 19 nusak, but not yet at sea, where only a handful of villages have implemented it, such as on Ndao Island.

“A villager found catching fish using bombs or poison is given a sanction or fined up to Rp 1 million [US$71] or with livestock if the person has no money,” he said, adding that refusal to pay could end up in the person’s being tried in court.

He underlined the importance of applying haholok at sea, considering that now is the season during which Rote Ndao residents go out to sea to fish, and they would be the ones to suffer if the sea and the coastal areas were damaged.

“It is indeed difficult because not all nusak have agreed on the customary sanctions should haholok be implemented at sea,” he said, adding that the forum continued disseminating the idea by involving NGO The Nature Conservancy.

Rote Ndao Regent Leonard Haning similarly expressed hope that haholok could be implemented at sea, given that the regency was an archipelago with an area of 1,280 square km with a 330 km coastline and 107 islands.

“Rote Ndao has potentially abundant biological and non-biological resources, if they are managed well,” Leonard said.

He added that implementing haholok at sea would be an initial strategic step to building a better future for Rote Ndao. As a national strategic zone and a tourist cluster, the regency needed to be well maintained and preserved, he said.

“Culturally we can say that haholok gives a meaning to orderly and obedient preservation that needs to be shaped and developed,” he said.

Fisherman Rizal Pello of Papela subdistrict said that it would be difficult to implement haholok at sea because the vast area of the waters in Rote would make it difficult to police.

Apart from that, Rizal said, fishermen catching fish in Rote Ndao waters were not just from the regency but also from other regions such as Kupang, Flores, West Nusa Tenggara and Sulawesi.

Other challenges, he added, included unclear division between the coastal areas for tourism and for seaweed cultivation.

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