Hamish Daud has led many roles in his life, but the most important one might be his role as an eco-warrior, especially when it comes to Indonesian oceans. He emphasises the necessity to work together to save our oceans as we are a maritime country that has always been dependent on the ocean for our survival. Read our interview below and get inspired.
What’s your latest activity as an eco-warrior?
Last night, I just got back from Bali, from the Our Ocean conference where I was talking on behalf of the Indonesian maritime resources. I was talking about my movement called Indonesian Ocean Pride, with which I am trying to use to connect people’s minds and hearts to Indonesian oceans. Indonesia is going through a pivotal change at the moment where we are kind of detaching ourselves from the ocean. We are the biggest maritime archipelago in the world, but it seems like we do not love the oceans as much as we should.
What does the movement comprise of?
We have waste-management programmes, a manta rays management programme, and we also have a shark conservation programme. We are the first company to tag sharks in Indonesia, and we try to hold a lot of educational programmes as well. Right now, we have the full support of the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries as well as renowned public figures. Recently, I spent a month in West Papua as well doing a campaign called Provinsi Konservasi.
Tell us more about that.
Since 2016, the governor of West Papua has stated that West Papua will be a conservation province. It wasn’t my idea—it was actually stated by many people in the environment community. So we went in there and did a campaign. We are trying to add industrial pressure to everyone who is coming into West Papua to do business or activities that will have an impact to the environment. We want to create a standard so that they have to respect the land and not just come and cut up some trees.
Why West Papua?
We want to make sure that there will be allocated space for conservation because West Papua is too important to ignore. It has the biggest ecosystem diversity in the world and they has the thickest rainforest in Asia. So we consider it as the last jewel of Indonesia, but ultimately we are trying to protect the people of West Papua because we can’t let them be exploited.
Can you explain more about that point?
They are Indonesia’s most indigenous people and they are not used to doing business. If they are hungry, they just go to the forest or the ocean to satisfy their hunger. They depend on their land as their source of food. So I want to stick up for Indonesia’s last national jewel. It’s not just me, but it’s all the regents, ministries, and international conservation bodies that are trying to do the same thing.
Coming back to the Indonesian Ocean Pride movement, what is the most important message that you want to impart about this movement?
I just try to connect everyone to the ocean as we have the most biodiverse marine ecosystem in the world and I want people to protect our seas. Many companies continue to throw toxic waste into the ocean, and due to littering, 70 per cent of waste in the ocean comes from the land. We have the second-dirtiest ocean right now, and I don’t want to be a part of a generation that ruins everything for my kids, so I am going to do my best to keep it safe.
What are the other consequences that you want to let people know about?
Well, here’s a small fact for you: half of the world’s corals are gone and 90 per cent of the shark population has been wiped out. Sharks have been around for 400 million years, and in 20 years, almost 90 per cent of the population has been almost wiped out. Due to irresponsible fishing techniques, consumption of shark fins, and much more, our shark populations are fast declining.
How do you make it easier for Indonesian people to take action?
My mission is to connect people to the sea, so that people will love it. How can you love someone if you don’t know them? It comes down to education, law enforcement, and the list goes on. Restaurants should have a plaque saying that the fish there comes from a controlled area, so they are more sustainable. This is not only a hobby for me because we are in “code red” now—we are in a crisis. It is better to prevent than trying to find a solution. Thankfully, I feel like we have a lot of support now as people are doing things to come out of this devastation. The momentum is there, but we can’t do it all ourselves. We need everybody to come and support this movement.
What kind of regulations would you wish the government to impose or tighten more when it comes to environmental issues?
There are a lot of plans for banning plastic bags, and next year Bali will implement a ban. I think the education of plastic usage should be encouraged, and the standard of how companies are operating should be controlled more. But I think there are some positive changes that we can see now. The world’s dirtiest river, the Citarum, has gotten better as the government has prevented toxic waste from being dumped into the river. I hope this will be a snowball effect in which people will appreciate and understand how wonderful the Indonesian oceans are.
Can you give a short message about environmental conservation for Indonesians?
One thing I love about us is that we are such a proud nation. So show people what you are proud of. Don’t just say you are proud: have pride and say that you’re looking out for the ocean.