Umar Papalia, 42, poses for the Jakarta Globe as he managed to catch a 105 kg yellowfin tuna on his boat on October 30, 2021. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
Umar Papalia Uses Handline Fishing Method to Catch Big Tuna
BY :YUDHA BASKORO
NOVEMBER 20, 2021
Buru Island, Maluku. Racing against the sun is a daily routine for Umar Papalia, a fisherman in Waepure Village, Air Buaya District, Buru Regency, Maluku Province. He must wake up so early and gets into his small boat on the shoreline before the dawn arrives to increase his chance for a big catch.
The 42-year-old man has got himself prepared to go to the sea since 3:00 a.m. His wife assists him in preparing some fishing bait and lunch. Waepure fishermen believe that blessing from wife, children, and parents will invite the grace of God, which means a big catch.
Umar turns on the boat engine and sails through the Seram Sea, where he can witness a horde of dolphins and seagulls. He has knowledge passed on to him by his ancestors that beneath the sea crowd there are tunas.
Lucky for him, the bait gets a hit less than one hour into his morning routine. He pulls the line patiently and he can see a tatihu or yellowfin tuna swim deep below his boat. After a struggle for another 30 minutes, Umar successfully pulls the tuna into his small boat. Umar can go home earlier now and that's a very big bonus because very often traditional fishermen must stay in the middle of the sea for a full day to get a big catch.
He uses handline tuna fishing method with a single fishing line and a barbed hook.
After being measured, the tuna weighs 80 kilograms, the second-biggest yellowfin tuna ever caught by traditional fishermen in Waepure.
There is a buyer for his tuna but it must be first inspected by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) to ensure that the fishing method complies with the rules of a fair and sustainable fisheries. The tuna will be processed and sold to export markets.
The MSC is working together with the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry and the provincial Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Department in Maluku to introduce sustainable fishing method known as the Fisheries Improvement Project (FIP).
The fishery has received “ecolabel certification” from the MSC and encourages every fisherman in Waepure to apply handline fishing method using live baits from the sea for sustainable fishing.
Fishermen in Buru Island also receive assistance from local NGO Masyarakat dan Perikanan Indonesia (Indonesian Community and Fisheries) or MDPI to be qualified for MSC certification.
Umar says he fully supports every program from MSC and MDPI because he doesn't want to see future generation of fishermen in Waepure only know about yellowfin tuna from school books.
The Fisheries Improvement Project was introduced in Buru in April 2013 and began to implement certification in October 2014.
The Fair Trade Fishermen Union from North Buru Island in Maluku were acknowledged as the first tuna fishing community to use only handline fishing method in May 2020.
"Without sustainable fisheries, tatihu will become a history and be extinct. What I'm doing now is just a small step. I want our children and grandchildren can still enjoy tuna," Umar said.
A sustainable marine ecosystem will allow young Waepure fishermen to inherit knowledge about the sea and natural ways of catching fish that have been taught from generation to generation.
"The sea is the lifeline of everything", he added.