It's not often that you hear the term security guard mixed up with environmentalism, but the two are inextricably intertwined on a 20-kilometer stretch of beach in Bali, Indonesia, reports The Jakarta Post.
There, security guards, or pecalang, protect Pemuteran, a five-hectare marine conservation zone, from illegal fishing and other theft of coral and marine-life. The sea guards, who work voluntarily, patrol the beach by foot or by a motor boat.
Though pecalang are a tradition in Bali villages, these security guards are special.
Every village in Bali has pecalang. The traditional guards maintain village security and manage traffic flows during religious and customary ceremonies. Pecalang in Pemuteran are different from other community guards because they have the additional responsibility of helping conserve the diversity of marine life. Pemuteran’s guards are known as pecalang laut or sea guards. A seaside village, Pemuteran’s pecalang unit has 30 members, coordinated by Made Gunasa.
“Besides helping processions during religious ceremonies, pecalang here also have the added responsibility of protecting sea creatures from theft by the public,” said Made.
He said that marine life conservation was vital to the economy of his village, which is heavily dependent on the beauty of its reefs, and other undersea wonders, as the main attraction for tourists. “They are a blessing to the village and its people,” he said.
The Post explains the pecalang were created after rampant illegal fishing and coral theft almost devastated the beach's ecosystem. A particularly destructive practice was dynamite fishing. But in 2000, a coalition of businesses, scientists, and residents teamed up to create the pecalang laut and dynamite fishing off the beach has all but ceased to exist.
At the end of November, the article reports, there have been just two cases of illegal fishing for decorative fish. Those caught were taught about the importance of conservation and had their fishing equipment confiscated.