West Papua Diary

SASI Customary Law: The Way Indigenous West Papuan Support Natural Conservation

SASI Customary Law: The Way Indigenous West Papuan Support Natural Conservation

The eastern part of Indonesia is known as one of the most naturally intact habitats in the country. The biodiversity level in the area is pretty high, especially in the West Papua region. The conservation province is not only a name. But, the local and Indonesian government has kept on their agenda including with SASI customary law.

What Is SASI Customary Law

The name of Sasi customary law is not limited to the bird head region of western Papua. The system is also part of surrounding areas, including Maluku. The point and function are the same, despite being in a different region or province. It is the indigenous way or system of protecting people’s lives and natural resources in the surrounding marine area.

SASI means ban or restriction. It suggests that the local communities, including villages, will have local management to abide by the customary marine law. What makes it unique is how the local western Papuan will practice and ground the law along with traditional local communities.

In other words, each village and chief might have a different approach to implementing the law. One of the best examples is the local communities on Fafanlap and Tomolol village. The two west Papua groups will apply the restriction from April to September each year. The decision was made based on the wind direction cycle, which is from the south.

However, the community will start to go back on the sea from October to April. The same but slightly different ban was also adopted in diverse societies. An example is harvest restriction on certain species when the SASI commences. The ranges of the SASI approach can differ and range from fully to partially restricted, areas of the ocean, period, or species.

The Restriction Under The Law

As said in the previous point that the restriction under the law is ranging from one to another. Some of the bans in the regions are limiting harvest for all marine life except some fish species. So, SASI can limit and eliminate the harvest of only one species in the local marine area. The effect is pretty huge since it helps take care of marine biodiversity.

Aside from banning specific harvest, there is also a time restriction. The local west Papua communities will discuss and agreed before commencing the law. In any case, the duration will differ from one village to another. It can take months, to over more than two years. Again, the local community, traditional council, leaders, clan, village, and the church will take part in the decision.

However, the communities can also lift the restriction and ban if the specific species has reached the maximum sustainable harvest. In other words, the Sasi period and law heavily rely on the local community’s decision. It is a great way to reach indigenous people on helping the marine preservation in many ways.

The System

Since Sasi is also known as a set of traditional laws that govern the local communities, the system is more than just environmental conservation. The law covers several categories to protect nature, sea, forest, and society in general. In the Maluku Sasi laws, the related protection consists of three types.

The law can touch the social aspect, including general human values and social habits. The west Papua SASI has the same value by forming a law on protection and conservation of the surrounding resources and environment. The last one relates to the rates of fines for the offender, which is made by the people themselves.

One thing that makes the law can approach local is how it closely relates to the local community belief system. The western part of Papua society believes that the old Sasi rule can repel disaster. And when the law and practice are broken, misfortune and illness will come. In many cases, lawbreakers are mostly non-local fisherpeople.

The Effect Of SASI In Indonesian Conservation

1. To Increase Indigenous Contribution On The Movement

An article says that SASI is a concrete example of how to attract participation from the local people. The practice, innovations, knowledge, values, and contribution of the indigenous people help enhance the quality of life and nature. It goes in line with the way local beliefs and laws take place in the area.

2. Giving Recognition To Local Communities

West Papua cannot be as good as now without local communities’ effort in taking care of their environment. With the help of law and practice that links to the state formal-legal system, Sasi turns into an important recognition. Local communities will have a huge part in decision-making and participate in the ocean administration under the formal legal structure.

The Cendrawasih head region or the western part of Papua has its name as a conservation province. It is not limited to nature conservation sites, intact forests, and rich biodiversity. But the local communities also took part in the movement. Sasi is one of the examples of how local and centers Indonesian governments take part in marine protection.

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