Thursday, 15 October 2009

Climate Change and Poor Fishermen

I am joining my voice with other bloggers' voices through Bloggers Unite and Blog Action Day to share my two cents on climate change. According to, climate change will also affect the volcanoes eruption and earthquakes.

Indonesia is a very large archipelago with only five big islands from its more than 17,000 islands. It is located in the ring of fire, which means that we do live with abundant of active volcanoes. And its location is also above the tectonic plates boundaries. That kind of situation shows how vulnerable Indonesia is.

Indonesian ancestors were known as great sailors. They sailed on their traditional boats to Madagascar. Great sailors and traders perhaps, but we should also noted that they also lived from being fishermen. Yet, now study said that 60% of the poor marginal people are those who live in the small islands and beaches. Fishermen have got to run a very hard life.

There is an Indonesian film titled "Laskar Pelangi". It describes how hard a life of a fisherman. Lintang, the clever boy, had to wave good bye to his dream of higher education when his father did not return home from his night work at the sea. Even with a father, he was not able to enjoy the normal daily life of a children. His father's income was depending on how much he can sell his catch of the day (if he got any!!!). Without his father, Lintang had to take over the responsibility of being the bread winner for the family. He could not continue his dream, he had to look after his younger siblings.

Today fishermen has to fight the weather and climate, and also competing with others who look for big catches...either from national companies or foreign illegal ships or foreign fishermen. Life is just become harder with the climate change...

When I went to Carita Beach, I've met pak Nana. He is a fisherman, but he is also depending on tourists to gain more income for his family. He offers to bring us to other island or other relaxing activities like riding banana boats. He was nice to my children, and we had small talks. He was concern about his children's education. Elementary and junior highschool are not really problem, but the senior high school become more difficult as they need to go a bit farther from home to find the school they would like to attend. And it would need more transportation's cost. With his unsteady daily income he was not really sure about the future of his children's education. In time like this, women will be the first to sacrifice their studies.

At the time of my visiting Carita I had also seen a lot of sign board informing people on how to react (which road will lead them to higher location) if they have the bad chance visited by tsunami. The possibility of tsunami and the hot air at beach made people prefering to go to the mountain (which is a bit cooler than the beach) than risking their life with the unpredictable. So, visitors become more precious Pak Nana and his other friends. Fishing at the sea became a harder choice, yet waiting for guests to come is just another unpredictable income.

When I went to the Thousand Islands with I saw childrens of the fisherman helping out near the boat. They were not helping him catching fish, but instead they were helping sorting out plastic bottles. I catch a picture of one of those children. It is an irony as it was one day before the celebration of the proclamation of the Indonesian indipendence. A boy his age is actually in a schooling age. Normally a boy at his age is preparing his bike to join the fancy bike competition for the indipendence day celebration. But, there he was...already helping out selling used plastic bottle to gain more money for the family. Life is not easy for him, and will be harder with the climate change.

I'm not an expert of the topic climate change. I can't write detailed scientifical information about that. But, I know that Indonesia is also a home for the rainforests, and we do need to keep our rainforests in their balancing function...economically, socially, and environmentally...So, we do need to help the Indonesian government to look carefully on this matter. Fishermen who voted their voices for the government had put their trust to those on the chairs (either as representatives or as the government). Their life is so affected by the effect of climate change...they need help from those who gained their voices. Will you help them?

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