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Sasi and Marine Conservation in Raja Ampat, Indonesia

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Raja Ampat, Indonesia, possesses the greatest diversity of corals and reef fishes on the planet. The area is a priority for marine conservation for the provincial government, local communities, and major international nongovernmental organizations such as The Nature Conservancy and Conservation International. Traditional marine resource management practices in the region, referred to as sasi, have the potential to support conservation objectives. This article contends that while traditional marine resource management systems may support conservation, they must be reinforced by a supportive social structure and governance system to remain relevant in a rapidly changing world. Two villages in Raja Ampat were studied to gain a better understanding of sasi and how this practice has been affected by cultural, political, and economic change. These villages illustrate how the role of religious authorities, access to alternative livelihoods, proximity to urban centers, and capacity for monitoring and enforcement may influence the effectiveness of marine resource management systems. Our research suggests that the continued relevance of sasi in marine resource management relies on the support of influential local leaders and businesses and government regulations that reinforce traditional resource use practices.

Keywords: Raja Ampat; customary marine tenure; marine conservation; sasi

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: The Nature Conservancy, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA 2: Department of Geography, University of Hawai'i at Manoa, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA

Publication date: November 1, 2009

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