Misool Foundation, Raja Ampat, Indonesia

Years Funded: 2018 – 2020

The Lamakera, Eastern Flores area is home to an important regional population of Manta Rays, Whales and Whale Sharks. Catch data from WWF suggested that this community were previously hauling in about one third of the global catch of Manta Birostris, and that the catch was declining dramatically from an annual catch of 1,000 individuals in 2001 to just 175 in 2014. While this dramatic drop in hunting is very encouraging and there are strong indicators that the remaining population of Manta Birostris is significant, we do not know for sure what the remaining population numbers are, nor do we understand how interconnected this population is to other areas and populations in the Savu Sea.

This discrete study will work to better understand manta populations and identify threats. Ultimately, the aim is to provide information to make recommendations for effective manta management strategies that consider both manta rays and local fishing communities, both in the Savu Seascape and throughout Indonesia. Furthermore, a better understanding of Lamakera’s current manta population size and connectivity to other parts of the Savu Sea region will help us to understand its ability to recover from exploitation and the management steps that will need to be taken to ensure its continued preservation.

Come Back Slowly
Fisherman’s Cooperative Initiative

Misool in Raja Ampat is today home to the world’s richest reef system, but this was not always the case. Southern Raja Ampat was once in danger of losing the very resource that is now one of its most valuable assets, both as a source of food and as a source of employment. By 2005, the relentless assault from shark finners, bomb fishermen, and industrial-scale long-liners had begun decimating Misool’s reef system. The same year, the Misool Foundation and the local community partnered to create a privately funded and managed marine reserve that is also a No-Take Zone (NTZ), meaning that all types of fishing and “taking” (for example, turtle eggs or mollusks) are prohibited.

These successes have drawn a new surge of attention and tourism, and with it, new threats to the very reef system responsible for the area’s renewed economic and environmental health. Much-enhanced fishing has led to a spike in the live reef trade. This is aided by the new, large ferries that have emerged since tourism began climbing in 2013 — another result of better diving, more resorts and restaurants, more employment, and more media attention.

Under the direction of WildLife Canada Society, Misool will establish a Fisherman’s Cooperative over a two year period that will provide employment to individuals who, but for jobs provided by the Cooperative, would fish in the NTZ and thereby threaten the marine wildlife protected by the NTZ. The cooperative will establish and implement business development and micro-loan programs to provide alternative livelihoods to residents.

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