Misool Eco Resort (www.misoolecoresort.com) and WildAid announced today the creation of a 468 sq mile (1220 sq km) Marine Conservation Area in Raja Ampat, Indonesia. This has nearly tripled Misool Eco Resort’s164 sq mile (425 sq km) No-Take Zone, established in 2005. The combined Marine Conservation Area (MCA) now includes an adjoining archipelago of islands called Daram.
The MCA prohibits the kill, capture, or removal of any wildlife. Prohibitions include shark finning, all types of fishing, hunting turtles, and collecting turtle eggs, as well as highly destructive practices such as reef bombing, cyanide fishing, and live reef fish trade.
Misool Eco Resort’s MCA is centered on an eco-region of global importance, linking diverse habitats such as mangroves, shallow reefs, deep sea beds, sea mounts, and coastal regions. The MCA lies just outside the traditional fishing grounds of the local villages. The villagers report increased catches in these fishing grounds as a direct result of protections in the adjacent MCA.
"In the context of my work with Conservation International in Raja Ampat, I have dived the spectacular reefs in the vicinity of Misool Eco Resort several times each year since 2003. During this time, the passionate efforts of Misool Eco Resort and its local Ranger Patrol to protect these world-class reefs have been highly successful in improving the fish biomass in the area and bringing an end to previously rampant destructive fishing practices,” stated Dr Mark Erdmann. “I've noticed a dramatic increase in the number of snappers, groupers, and Napoleon wrasse on these reefs since the implementation of their innovative community agreement for a no-fishing zone in the area. Perhaps most heartening of all, in the past year alone I’ve seen more sharks within the MCA boundaries than I had seen in the preceding 6 years’ combined."
Raja Ampat enjoys the highest marine biodiversity level on the planet, with 1397 species of fish and over 600 species of coral recorded. It is widely believed that coral species in this area are more resistant to bleaching, making them of particular interest as water temperatures are set to rise. In the past, Raja Ampat has been the scene of destructive overfishing that has severely threatened sharks, turtles, dugongs, manta rays, as well as fish the local population depends upon for food.
Raja Ampat’s spectacular biodiversity and pristine landscapes have established the area as one of the most highly sought-after dive destinations in the world. The MCA secures the future of low impact underwater eco-tourism, which directly benefits Raja Ampat’s people while safeguarding its spectacular natural resources.
“We are extremely fortunate to have such visionary community leaders as our partners. Through our joint efforts we are safeguarding the fabulous biodiversity upon which we all depend,” said Andrew Miners of Misool Eco Resort.“By patrolling this MCA together, we can protect the area and pass on a thriving ecosystem to their children.”
The expansion of the Misool Eco Resort’s MCA is a direct result of the success of Misool Eco Resort’s original No-Take Zone. A locally-staffed Ranger Patrol enforces the perimeters and is funded by Misool Eco Resort, WildAid, The Coral Reef Alliance, and many generous private donors.
Today, Misool Eco Resort and Shark Savers, an international shark conservation organization, also announced that the Regent of Raja Ampat has declared a Shark Sanctuary for the entire 15,000 square miles of Raja Ampat. The Shark Sanctuary provides full protection from fishing for sharks, manta and mobula rays, dugongs, and turtles. The Misool Eco Resort’s MCA lies within the new Shark Sanctuary and will serve as a model for enforcement through community engagement.
"Misool Eco Resort is defining how effective ocean conservation gets done with their Marine Conservation Area,” said Michael Skoletsky, Executive Director of Shark Savers. “Enlist and integrate local communities into the outcome. Partner with NGOs for management, assessment, enforcement assistance, and funding. Engage government to establish legal authority and leadership as it has with the Raja Ampat Shark Sanctuary. Misool Eco Resort has set an example by using highly responsible underwater eco-tourism as the vehicle for making conservation practical."
Photographs are available for download at www.misoolecoresort.com/news.html
Misool Eco Resort
Misool Eco Resort was established in 2006 by a group of dedicated conservationists, divers, and adventurers. The resort is located on a private island and surrounded by Misool Eco Resort's own No-Take Zone in Raja Ampat, Indonesia.
WildAid's mission is to reduce consumer demand for endangered wildlife products and to encourage responsible energy consumption behavior. This is achieved through global public awareness campaigns, field conservation programs and enforcement of marine protect areas. WildAid is headquartered in San Francisco, with programs in the United States, China, India, Ecuador, Canada, UK and Indonesia.