The opportunity to become an intern in a marine fishery activity was a blessing for me. As an undergraduate student of marine science still searching for his identity, this was an opportunity for me get to know myself better, to get to know a new environment in the eastern part of Indonesia, to get to know the life of a fisherman, and to put what I had learnt in lectures into practice in the real world.
During this internship program, I assisted in the implementation of FIP activities to improve the lives of traditional small-scale tuna fishers in Banda Neira. My role was to be an extra pair of hands for the local enumerators, data collector, fishers’ group mentor, and LINI field manager stationed at the project site. I really felt what it was like to be given complete responsibility, especially when I had to go and undertake a task on my own. I learnt a lot about how to survive in a strange environment with people whose culture differed greatly from mine, for a fairly long time, on my own, and I succeeded, even though my performance may not have been of the best.
By taking part in LINI’s Fisheries Improvement efforts, I became more open-minded regarding the real conditions in the world of fisheries, both globally and right down to the most basic component, the fishing community. I learnt how market dynamics currently emphasise quality improvement in order to achieve sustainable global fishery. Throughout this program, I was immersed directly in the community. It was truly an experience that I shall never forget, from the moment when I first met this traditional fishing community until they eventually became like my own family; I would never have thought that I would develop such strong ties with people I had never met before.
From this I came to understand the significance of the homecoming of a traditional tuna fisherman, of a father who leaves the house before dawn and returns late at night, going out to combat waves that can reach 5-7 metres in height, risking his life on the chance of catching tuna, but sometimes returning empty-handed.
Not a few are fated to meet their death in the midst of the wild Banda Sea. But the fishers still smile and get on with their lives as if there was nothing to worry about. On one occasion, I put to sea with one of the traditional tuna fishers, but the forces of nature were against us and we had to turn back due to impossible conditions. I really felt then how it feels to risk one’s life in the middle of the raging sea, to pit one’s fate against the sea.
But that is their life, their daily routine, and they have been forged from birth to live in this way. In addition, this internship program also taught me how to communicate better with the local community in order to convince them of what I was saying. I truly learnt how to get on with people and to become a part of the community.
After doing this extraordinary program of voluntary work, I feel that I have become a better person. I know myself better and, most important of all, I have gained some extremely valuable experience. This internship program not only focused on target achievement, but also helped shape the character of the participants. And for that I would like to say Thank you.