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Cablegate: Fishery Law Threatens Maluku Traditions, Economy,

VZCZCXRO7008
RR RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHJS #0111 3170933
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 130933Z NOV 09
FM AMCONSUL SURABAYA
TO RUEHJA/AMEMBASSY JAKARTA 0485
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0495
INFO RUEHJS/AMCONSUL SURABAYA 0508
RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS
RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON 0189
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0221
RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI

UNCLAS SURABAYA 000111

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV SENV EFIS PHUM SOCI ID
SUBJECT: FISHERY LAW THREATENS MALUKU TRADITIONS, ECONOMY,
ENVIRONMENT

1. SUMMARY: Jakarta recently passed a law that sets a 12-mile
off-shore boundary outside of which the national government
controls. This law threatens the local traditions that have
governed fishing practices, and sustained coastal resources, in
the Maluku islands for centuries. Local groups are organizing
to fight against this law. In particular, they plan to
challenge the law in the Constitutional Court on the basis of
national regulation overstepping local autonomy. If the Court
does not overturn the law, some feel the issue should be raised
with the United Nations. END SUMMARY

2. Maluku province consists of more than 1,000 islands ringing
the Banda Sea. Society is divided into multi-ethnic villages,
each with its own king. While not a part of the formal
governance structure, the king frequently wields more real power
than local government officials. In particular, the king has
significant influence over how the village both exploits and
protects its natural resources. Traditionally, each village has
had the long-standing right to exploit maritime resources in an
area of the sea that extends from the island to the waters
controlled by another village. In this traditional view, there
is no distinction between land and sea. Each village looks to
its king to control how these resources, especially the
fisheries, are exploited. The kings use what they term "local
wisdom" and traditional law to govern that exploitation. John
Lefmanu, of the environmentally-focused NGO, The Kirani
Foundation, contends that this "local wisdom" approach sustains
both the local economy and the ecological integrity of the sea.

3. In 2007, the national parliament passed a law which
contradicts this tradition. Among other things, the law
restricts the maritime resource exploitation rights of the
inhabitants of small islands in Indonesia to a 12-mile radius
from shore. The rest of the sea would become part of national
property, to be managed by the Central Government in Jakarta.
Kiki Zamal, director of Young Ambassadors for Peace, views this
as a direct threat to the economic livelihood and traditional
way of life of the Malukus. John Lefmanu expressed concern that
this new law would circumvent traditional informal agreements
between villages that limit the use of ecologically damaging
fishing equipment and avoid depleting fish stocks.

4. While the law was passed in 2007, the Ministry of Fisheries
did not issue an implementing regulation regarding Jakarta's
management of the fisheries until June 2009. The regulation
spurred local organizations to consider actions they could take
to counter the effects of the law. Two Ambon-based NGOs, Peace
Through Development and the Kirani Foundation, organized a
seminar on November 5 and 6, 2009, to discuss the law and
organize the province's response. Over 50 people attended the
seminar, including traditional kings, representatives from both
local and provincial government development offices (BAPPEDA),
university professors, and NGO activists.

5. The group decided to pursue two courses of action. First,
they decided to create guidelines to assist villages to codify
and formalize their traditional law and "local wisdom" with the
goal of protecting traditional rights within the 12-mile area
from future erosion. They also decided to directly challenge
the law by bringing it to the national Constitutional Court for
judicial review, and tasked Peace Through Development to
spearhead that effort. They hope the Court will find the law to
infringe on the rights of the province.

6. Other observers viewed the law as an example of Jakarta's
"heavy-handedness" in dealing with Maluku province. A.H.
Tulalessy, director of the Center for Environmental Studies at
Pattimura University, compared the situation in Maluku with that
in Aceh. He expressed frustration that Aceh is allowed to keep
70% of the revenue generated by its natural resources, while
Jakarta "steals" all of Maluku's resources. Tulalessy also said
that, if the Constitutional Court fails to overturn the law, the
Maluku people should take their case to the UN. He argued that
the law amounted to a violation of the UN Declaration on the
Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

MCCLELLAND

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