Keywords: marine conservation areas, MCA, political ecology, environmental conflicts, centralisation, decentralisation, property rights, sustainable development, Indonesia, fisheries
Politics of marine conservation area in Indonesia: from a centralised to a decentralised system
This paper aims to analyse the current situation resulting from the Marine Conservation Area (MCA) in Indonesia in terms of the legal framework, institutional conflicts and the response of the local people. A case study of the centralised and decentralised MCA in West Lombok is presented, and the process of establishing the MCA and its institutional performance are reviewed. The performance of a centralised system is still questioned because this system marginalises the local people that leads to the rise of conflict and eventually weakens the institution of an MCA. Therefore, strengthening a decentralised system is necessary to increase the sense of stewardship of the local people over the resources, and to shape a new paradigm of the relationship of poor people-environment and conservation-fisheries, so marginalisation of the local people can be avoided and finally a robust institution can be created. Nevertheless, the case of Awig-awig as a type of community-based coral reef management in Gili Indah shows that a decentralised system does not assure achievement of more robust institutional performance. This means that the success of decentralisation is not taken for granted, but there is a prerequisite to be considered. At the community level, the prerequisite is a creation of better institutional arrangement including increasing equitability among resource users, a better representation system during process of consensus building and a well-defined property right system. Furthermore, the improvement of legal frameworks at a national level is necessary to create more harmonious legal products related to the marine conservation with an emphasis on how to recognise and enhance the capacity of the local institution, which may belong to the local government or the local people, in the marine conservation. Thus, community-based management or co-management system can be officially recognised and promoted. In addition, the decentralisation of marine conservation also requires the local governments to have adequate capacity building including the following aspects: administration skill, political savvy, adaptability and expertise skill.