Bintuni Bay Regency has an area of 18,637.00 km2 or 19.2% of the total area of West Papua Province. This regency has 5 rivers surrounded by mangrove forests around their estuaries. As a result, the coastal ecosystem in Bintuni Bay is characterized by a mangrove ecosystem, with an identified area of approximately ± 260 thousand ha covering 10% of the total area of Indonesian mangrove forests (Wibowo and Suyatno, 1998).
Due to the dense mangrove forests along the coastal areas, Bintuni Bay Regency is known for its export fishery commodities. The potential of marine resources has been utilized since the 1970s. About 1,469 fisheries households in Bintuni Bay Regency were known to have produced 405.8 tons of shrimps in 2017.
In addition to shrimps, other dominant commodities utilized by fishermen include mud crabs, demersal fish and small pelagic fish. Capture fisheries yields in the coastal areas of Bintuni Bay continued to increase by 36.76% for the period of 2012-2016. This is in line with the rapid growth of population and increasing market demand for shrimps, crabs, and fish.
Based on the social condition of the communities, the people of Bintuni Bay Regency are divided into 7 tribal groups spread in mountainous and coastal areas. The tribes in the coastal areas are Kuri, Wamesa, Sebyar, Irarutu and Sumuri tribes. The coastal communities are still very dependent on the potential of fishery resources to meet their daily needs. Meanwhile, the marine coastal areas of Bintuni Bay Regency have been allocated for industrial areas, oil and gas blocks, conservation, and protected forests. There is a higher pressure on the waters area, and this certainly has an impact on capture fisheries activities.
In addition, policies on fishing control and regulations on the utilization of coastal and marine areas have not been formulated. Issues and concerns about the loss of fishing ground, the declining number of catches and the fishing areas are challenges that must be addressed by the communities, especially traditional fishermen, despite the fact that the fishery commodity in the Fisheries Management Area (FMA) 715 is an export commodity with high economic value.
USAID Indonesia through the Sustainable Ecosystems Advanced (SEA) project supports the Indonesian government’s efforts to improve fisheries and marine management and to increase conservation efforts, especially in the Fisheries Management Area (FMA) 715, one of which is West Papua Province. In support of these efforts, WWF-Indonesia joins a consortium of USAID Indonesia’s 5-year SEA Project partners (2016-2021). The SEA project is expected to play an important role in promoting the utilization of marine and fishery resources by taking into account the principles of preservation of biodiversity, and sustainability of fisheries potential. Therefore, the USAID SEA Project will accelerate the initiation of new Conservation Areas in WPP-715 as an effort to balance the two elements in Bintuni Bay Regency.
Author : Irwanto
Translator : Ade Sangadji