Name: Yoseph Rumkorem
Location: Meos Mangguandi
Most of the people in the surrounding islands of Meos Mangguandi knew Yoseph Rumkorem as a community leader against bomb fishing. He would be very angry if he discovered fishers using bombs for collecting in his traditional fishing ground. In many cases, he would run out with his boat to find them and occasionally he had to fight with fishers, some of whom were also his relatives.
Meos Mangguandi is one of 12 islands in the upper Padaido Islands that has had the best coral cover in Biak District, Papua. Yoseph helped create an awareness and desire for the community to look after their marine area, especially the coral reefs. In October 2002, Yoseph was selected as the head of the village of Supraima. During this time, he invited the LMMA Network to help him and his community develop Meos Mangguandi Island as a learning centre for marine conservation. He also facilitated the mapping of the island’s natural resources and the development of a management plan.
Yoseph worked very closely with community youth, church and traditional institutions on enhancing the Sasi, or protected areas. In March 2005, Meos Mangguandi announced the waters around the entire island as a Sasi, or closed area, for 5 marine species. This was the first time for such a closure in Padaido islands (see LMMA Annual Report 2005).
Yoseph was also known as one of the best boat drivers. In January 2005, Dan Miller from the MacArthur Foundation visited his island. Upon his return to Biak, the sea was very rough and the waves were very high, about 2 meters. Yoseph would not allow anyone else to drive the boat carrying such a guest. At 4 a.m, before the sun rise, they departed the island. An hour later, they were still struggling with the waves, and one of the passengers fell into the sea. The waves were so hard that one of the outriggers (wooden beam that balances the boat) broke. After four hours, with Yoseph driving, they arrived safely in Biak.
In early February 2007, after one week in the hospital, Yoseph Rumkorem passed away. Yunus Rumkorem, his old brother, relays Yoseph’s last words: “Please continue the work that I have already done for the island of Meos Mangguandi.”
Thank you and God bless Yoseph Rumkorem. We will work hand-in-hand to take care of your island and continue to develop it as a learning centre for community-based marine conservation.