DIVING AND CORALS
Traditional Law Saves Coral (Issue: 03-07)
Indonesia has many kinds of law; civil law, religious law,
traditional law (Hukum Adat), and the law of the jungle. Hukum Adat
was once the most important law that regulated the life in the
villages. After the fall of the Soeharto regime where the
administration and the armed forces stood above the law, a vacuum
emerged. In many places the Hukum Adat has made a come-back in this
vacuum. It is an effective tool to create justice locally.
In the good old days, i.e. before the Dutch, the Acehnese protected
its sea and forest through the Panglima Laot and Panglima Rimba
(chief of the sea and the forest respectively). These officials
decided who could use the resources, how to use it and how to share
it. It was a system that effectively protected the environment.
the years these functions disappeared, but the Panglima Laot
survived until today, however mainly as a ceremonial function. In
some areas they have become more powerful again, for example in
Iemeulee on the east coast of Pulau Weh. The Panglima Laot is chosen
directly by the fishermen of the area he controls.
In Iemeulee the fishermen (app. 150) have realized that they would
gain from a healthy coral reef. This seemingly obvious fact is
unique, as fishermen rarely plan for longer than a day. Maybe the
influence of environmental lobbyists, tourism and the positive
effect of healthy coral reefs in Iboih and Gapang has helped. Now
the fishermen in Iemeulee also protect their fishing grounds and
they do it through the Hukum Adat, which strictly forbids the use of
poison, bombs, compressors and nets that do not leave the small fish
behind. The area stretches from Sabang Fair and half of the east
coast. Anyone caught in this area has to see his illegal fishing
tools being destroyed and to pay a fine of three million Rupiah.
A couple of month ago Iemeulee fishermen apprehended two boats from
another area using illegal nets. In a case that concerns two local
Panglima Laot, the Panglima Laot for all of Sabang becomes involved.
The two boats are now on land waiting for a decision. The accused
fishermen refuse to pay all of the three millions and want to keep
the nets. This problem is discussed by all concerned parties until a
solution approved by all is reached. This process is called
“musyawarah” and it is a traditional Indonesian form of democracy.
Eventually the wrong-doers will be punished without any involvement
of the police or government. The hukum adat is very effective to
avoid bad feelings and urge for revenge.
The fishermen in Iemeulee are proud today. They have been proven to
be correct. Everyone on Pulau Weh knows that there are more fish on
the East coast!
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A Young Entrepreneur (Issue: 03-07)
entrepreneurs - that is really what Aceh needs after all the Tsunami
aid. Madi in Sabang is one example. Madi has always been interested
in gardening, fish and birds. He financed his own high school by
growing and selling bonsai trees. Since then he has tried to develop
his hobby into a business but has always been short of capital.
He has to feed his wife and two children first. That is why he works
long hours in the noodle restaurant Mie Sedap. It doesn’t give him
much time or money left over, but he struggles on with his vision.
Madi cultivates whatever he can get hold of, but his most popular
plants are Bougainvillea and Frangipani. All that he knows he has
taught himself from books and experimentation. He always tries to
cross breed flowers to get new hybrids with different colors. His
father’s five cows provide fertilizer, which he also sells by the
The market has started to develop, but it’s far from what it could
and should be. His hope is that tourism growth will help him and
increase the interest and demand. In the past Madi also bred birds,
but he stopped as he came to realize that also birds need their
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