Editor’s note – this is the original, unedited guest commentary from Marten Salossa, received 9/18/2014. It is provided in support of our edited version, which was shown to Salossa before publication and presumed accurate. We encourage you to read the published, edited version. However, we may have inadvertently changed the meaning of what Salossa intended to convey, so the original text is provided as well.
Since its introduction to the aquarium hobby, Melanotaenia Boesemani has steadily increased in popularity, and today, it could be considered the most popular rainbowfish in the hobby. By 1989 Ajamaru Villagers were catching so many live fish for the aquarium trade the species was on the brink of becoming endangered, an estimated 60,000 male rainbows were capture each month for shipment to Jakarta exporters. Eventually the Indonesian goverment placed some controls on the industry (Polhemus 2004).
The habitat of this species is subject to broad of fluctuations in water levels. It is thought that this fluctuations have become more severe in recent years, however the main threat to the species is harvesting of individuals (mainly males) for the international aquarium fish trade. It has been estimated that up to 1 million fish per annum have been captured. It is believed that aquarium trade has contibuted the declined of these fish in the wild, and they are currently listed as endangered of the IUCN Red List
Most of the people who inhabited the region are Maybrat ethnic group, the local people dominantly work as a farmer and fishermen in the lake, they are still depend their life on the lake to catch fish for daily food and also sell them in the traditional market.
Local People called the fish in Maybrat language “SEKIAK” also “KASKATER” sometimes more popular “IKAN HIAS” meaning the decorative fish in Indonesian language.
When i make an interview with three villagers of Ajamaru who had been involved in in aquarium fish trade about three decades ago they told me about their experiences in catching and transport the fish to the aquarium fish trade, once the only access to Sorong (the city were this market located) is by plane via Kambuaya Airport in that region since Ajamaru was a remote area it took about 20 minutes to Sorong whereas they could walked for a day by foot to the port of Teminabuan brought the live fish inside the closed tank with batery to operated the aerator arrived in Teminabuan this box full of male rainbow was shipped to Sorong. the local people sold the fish to the buyers for 1000 Indonesian Rupiah or $0,09 per male of rainbowfish, while they did not knew where the fish will be sended after and used for, in fact this fish was packed for shipment to Jakarta exporters.
Today most of the Ajamaru villagers and especially the young generation are totally forget about their pricious treasures about the story of what people should call “the legend of Sekiak” which well-known internationally as Boesemani Rainbowfish. They don’t and never told the story of this fish once had been made them earned money and profit even the price $0,09 per male. The local goverment of Maybrat regency which just established 5 years ago as a new administrative in Ajamaru did not know more about this fish which can be promote as an icon for this region and Ajamaru people.
Main subject of Ajamaru Lakes
as per my observation to the Ajamaru Lakes, i can report some subject i found when last two month i spent three weeks traveling and surfing around the lake and the sorrounding tributaries streams, i will describe as follows:
The first threat for the rainbowfish is predator of Channa species, an immigrant fish brought from Java Island about 4 years ago its has been widespread abundantly in the lake and sorrounding tributaries streams to the main lake.
The second is logging activity by local people and and new road builded by goverment circled the lake that could damaged the vegetation, the goverment did not analized the impact toward the environment such us biotop and water reservoir.
The last threat might be global warming this global matters influenced the increased of the temperature and pH of the water in the Lake and its tributaries i think.
My project and goal
The Ajamaru villagers with another community must to know about their treasures, if they have know and realize about this issue then they have to follow-up with to keep the lake protected and save from logging and other threats. Start to educated their generation and community to understand and notice how important to take care the lake and the lake will take care of them.
At last we can make a strong commitment, good will and understanding with involvement of community and local goverment. For the future they can set up a law of conservation and regulation that will be implemented in the lakes and sorrounding area. Eventually will be benefit for local people and their young generation who inherited their treasures, their homeland in secure and well protected, and finelly the real habitat of rainbowfish “Sekiak” in Ajamaru Lakes will be safe and survive.
To support this project i need international solidarity from Rainbowfish Community arround the Europe and elsewhere in the world and of course helping from those who cares about this matter to grow international friendship, in which it could be able to support this project by contributing your idea and facilities for the success of this program. So far i have travelling and orientering arround the lakes with limited and simple equipment collected data by making movie and photo. This data has been published in my youtube channel TAMALIN TV. I hope this effort can raised your concerned and sympathy for help thank you
Marten Luter Salossa
as an Ajamaru young generation
student at medical school Sam Ratulangi University, Manado North Sulawesi
From West Papua New Guinea
youtube channel: TAMALIN TV
address: Jalan Raya Tanah Wangko, Manado City, North Sulawesi