Meity Mongdong is the capacity-building manager of Bird’s Head Seascape, including the Raja Ampat Islands, the epicenter of marine biodiversity in northwest Papua Barat province, Indonesia. Her work is focused on local community engagement, conflict resolution among marine stakeholder groups, marine conservation policy development, aquatic resource monitoring, and capacity development of local marine protected area (MPA) staff.
As the world’s largest archipelagic nation and custodian of 18 percent of the world’s coral reef area, Indonesia has made huge strides in creating a national system of MPAs over the past two decades. But enforcement in these reserves is not always effective, and illegal fishing continues. To address this problem in the Raja Ampat Archipelago in the West Papua province, teams of citizens patrol the area, but the legal basis for enforcement by communities is unclear under adat law, a set of cultural customs and practices dating to the 15th century and followed by many in the region.
In her Pew fellowship project, Mongdong gained a comprehensive understanding of the largely unwritten laws governing marine resource use in West Papua and developed a policy brief on the legal basis for adat regulation of natural resource use, especially community-based enforcement. Using Raja Ampat as a case study, she has disseminated her findings through trainings, media, and a national-level curriculum for MPA managers.
Mongdong was born in a village in the Bunaken National Park area and grew up in a community that was very dependent on marine resources. This inspired her to work in marine management, ensuring that the quality of natural resources will be maintained in the future.
To learn more about Mongdong, visit https://www.ashoka.org/fellow/meity-mongdong.