Traditions of the Banyuwangi Sea
As we know the ocean makes up ⅔ of all area on Earth. Indonesia is known as a maritime country, which means that the water area is greater than the land. Therefore, the ocean is extremely important for Indonesian residents to obtain their income.
The importance of the sea is explained in the Sustainable Development Goal 14 (SDG). It is an agreement that all countries in the world follow, including Indonesia. The SDG 14 is about how we can conserve and sustainably use the ocean, marine resources for sustainable development, and aims to achieve this by 2030.
Following programs and protocols such as the SDG, we can understand how important the ocean is. Thanks to these programs, the government of Indonesia is making efforts to be a success in marine conservation. The Indonesian government have made a program called Minapolitan which aims to make improvements in the fisheries sector. Indonesia is also now focusing on the regulation of illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing to protect these important ecosystems that the Indonesian people rely on.
It is not only the efforts of the Indonesian government to follow such law and regulations but also Indonesian residents, especially the fishermen that traditionally utilise fisheries.
Fishing in Banyuwangi
Now let us focus on one region of Indonesia. The island of Java contains the largest fishing port in Indonesia. Located in the regency of Banyuwangi is Muncar fishing port within Muncar District.
So why is this area an interest, and why am I talking about it?
This is because of the importance of annual traditions held to conserve the ocean and the number of resources that have been exploited within one year.
‘If we call farmland the cultural space of land, then we can call the ocean the cultural space of water’.
In Banyuwangi a celebration is held called Petik Laut. Firstly, I will tell you more about this tradition!
Petik Laut is held in the Muharram or Syuro month - when there is a full moon, and the ocean is at high tide. The fishermen are not allowed to go fishing during this time. Petik Laut is held by giving Sesajen called Gitik. These offerings contain vegetables, fruits, and the most important item is the goats head with a golden banded fishing hook, hooked through its tongue.
Gitik is made by the fisherman and they are assumed as the richest person in that region.
They place the offering in the Slerek boat and carry it to the sea, accompanied by Gandrung dancers. When it is thrown into the middle of the sea, the fishermen will jump and take the Gitik to get the blessing. After it has sunk, the Gandrung dancers go to Sembulungan beach to dance in the tomb of Ki Ageng Kalong.
So why is the Petik Laut tradition so important?
Petik Laut celebrates the importance of sustenance, safety, and acts as a gratitude for the marine resources that have been exploited that year. When the fishermen give the Gitik offerings they show their gratitude.
It is believed that the more offerings you give, the better will come to you, either in the form of sustenance, or safety. This belief encourages the fishermen in Muncar to always fish using eco-friendly materials and tools so that it has a positive impact on both sea conservation and preserve marine resources that they deeply rely on.
That is all for my simple analysis of our traditions, thank you for reading.
Written by Silviana Dini Kunanti