Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Tagal system that brought new life to the Moroli River in Ranau

It all started when Jeffrin Majangki, from Kampung Luanti Baru in Ranau decided to preserve and clean up the river in his village that was much neglected and laden with rubbish. He believed that cleaning the river and treating it with respect was important for the village.

At first his idea met with a mixed response from his fellow villagers, some of whom thought that it was just a waste of time and energy. However, Jeffrin persevered and eventually managed to gather a following who shared his thoughts about the river.

In 2002, Moroli River was changed. From what looked like a rubbish dump it became a beautiful river with crystal clear water and a multitude of fishes swimming freely in it.

Then came his effort to persuade his fellow villagers to refrain from overfishing in the river, to increase the fish stock, and allow the fishes to grow larger before harvesting them.

That was the start of the Tagal system in Ranau.

“I wanted to share and send a message that people need to be aware of the importance of preserving the rivers in their villages and at the same time practise the Tagal system,” he said during an exclusive meeting with Insight Sabah reporters at the Moroli River in Ranau.

"Ranau district has the highest number of Tagal Rivers and I am very pleased with the result, as this shows that people do care about the environment especially their rivers,” he said.

Tagal or also known as 'bombon' which means ‘do not’ in Kadazandusun language is a traditional approach to take care of the river naturally. The Tagal system was developed to conserve the fishery resources in the river.

The Fishery Department helps a lot to provide various kinds of assistance to villagers to enable them to establish and maintain their rivers under the tagal system of management, such as covering the starting cost of opening a new Tagal River, erecting the tagal signboards and providing the right type of fishing equipment to enable the villagers to harvest the fishes in the Tagal river without jeopardizing the fish stock.

According to the Sabah Fisheries Department the Tagal system has increased from a mere ten in 2000 to 193 rivers involving 447 villages in 2012.

He said that the Tagal system has helped some villagers to improve their livelihood through tourism, which contributes to the progress of Kampung Luanti Baru. Jeffrin disclosed to Insight Sabah that in a month the revenue that can be attributed to the Tagal system can reach RM10, 000.

He said the Tagal system in Ranau is using the zoning approach. The zoning is divided into three: Red, Yellow and Green, mainly to ensure sustainability of the river. Red Zone is a no-take zone that prohibits fishing, and it is for conservation and agro-tourism purposes.