Turning the Tide for Coastal Fisheries

Entry Overview

Defending the Heart of Marine Biodiversity
Entrant Image: 
Misool Baseftin Foundation
Misool, Raja Ampat
1° 51' 23.67" S, 129° 56' 24.558" E
Describe the problem: 

Rampant shark finning and unchecked destructive fishing were destroying some of the most important and bio-diverse reefs on earth. Misool Eco Resort (MER) and Misool Baseftin Foundation joined with the local communities to put a stop to it. In 2005, MER achieved a remarkable feat of conservation and secured a lease from these communities to establish a Marine Conservation Agreement (MCA) covering 36,600-hectares, where fishing and all extractive practices are strictly prohibited. Having successfully abated the threats in the Batbitim MCA, in 2010 Misool Baseftin expanded the area to include a new 40,300-hectare MCA in the adjacent Daram Islands. In concert with The Nature Conservancy and WildAid, they are working to establisha series of MCAs in the Southeast Misool MPA of Raja Ampat.

Biodiversity Impact: 
With support from WildAid, monitoring and regular patrols have eliminated shark finning, turtle hunting, all fishing activities and any destructive extractive practices. The entire reef ecology is now protected & previously depleted stocks of vulnerable marine species are recovering. In the adjacent Batbitim MCA, recovery of these targeted species in the past five years has been remarkable. In the past, outside fishermen regularly exploitedthe Daram MCA area without the permission of the local community. These encroachments were in direct conflict with local tenancy laws, but the community was powerless to stop them.As the live reef fish trade expanded to Raja Ampat, the stocks of reef fish began to plummet. For these reasons, the community viewed these activities as outright theft of their resources & asked for Misool Baseftin’s help to stop them. The region has a long-standing tradition of fishing seasons (Sasi) in which the local villages periodically "open" and "close" fishing areas to replenish marine stocks. Given their history with"Sasi", the communities have direct experience with the benefits of "spillover" from the MCA area. They also appreciate that healthy reefs increase future economic opportunities through dive ecotourism. The Daram MCA creates a solution for the long-term health of their reefs and fish stocks, with the spillover effect to surrounding waters offering sustainable and abundant fish catches for the villagers. Fishermen already report noticeable increases in both size and quantity of catches outside the boundaries of the Batbitim MCA.
Human Well Being and Livelihood Impact: 
We are all aware how rapidly critical marine habitats are being stripped of their resources. Every day without protection is significant. Exacerbating the situation, many regions lack the proper infrastructure to provide economic alternatives to local peoples. Privately managed marine protection strategies fill this gap. Ecotourism, community projects, and lease fees can offer immediate jobs and income to the local community in exchange for the rights to establish MCAs. The communities see immediate benefits from the decision and become advocates and enforcers of the MCA. And finally, because the communities and private enterprise depend upon each other and form long-term relationships, there is a constant daily reminder of the importance of the MCA to the futures of both groups. The villages of Fafanlap& Usaha Jaya, the local communities with legal jurisdiction over the Daram area, benefitsignificantly from the Daram MCA. From a relatively remote and unutilized area, they are now deriving predictable income through a lease fee, payable every five years. But the new protected area brings sustainable jobs as well, and the Village Heads stressed the importance of these long-term benefits. Misool Baseftin is helping the people of these villages by: • Providing employment as rangers in the patrol • Providing employment in the eco resort • Providing training in eco-friendly industries and English; • Building a new community center; • Helping to maintain a thriving marine environment for future generations. // Stewardship of the Daram MCA begins with the appointment of a team of local Rangers. They are all respected members of the communities that hold the rights to Daram. These Rangers are provided with the training, equipment, and support needed to effectively patrol the MCA. Training includes the area’s ecology, threats, scuba diving, and enforcement tactics. Leveraging prior experience in the adjacent Batbitim MCA area, an enforcement strategy has been developed that delivers exceptional compliance results in Daram. A combination of lookout posts (under development) and regular patrols, are used to enforce the Daram MCA. Daram is currently patrolled with frequency each week and will be monitored daily when the posts are built. As such, it is expected that the patrol will intercept almost all possible fishermen immediately upon approaching or entering the MCA area. The local Rangers are ambassadors of conservation, and are often the project’s most ardent advocates. Their first hand experience with the mutual benefits of conservation, community involvement, and ecotourism is invaluable. They quickly became the project’s most valuable outreach tool, as they are best positioned to address any concerns with their communities. We have learned that most MCA-related issues can be resolved within the existing framework of village governance, with our Rangers acting as informed representatives with considerable experience and investment in both arenas.
How many years has your solution been applied 6 years // Have others reproduced your solution elsewhere? Yes // Long-term sustainability is the key to managing our solution. To this end, we cultivate lasting relationships with the local community & ensure that they benefit directly from the protection of their marine resources. Community members have enjoyed the success of the original Batbitim MCA since its inception in 2005. Leaders from neighboring villages requested that a similar agreement be made with their community. The resulting Daram MCA offers many benefits for these villages, including lease income, community projects, employment, direct involvement in safeguarding the future of their marine resources, & vital civic pride. Whereas in the past they were dependent upon the extraction of steadily dwindling marine resources, they are now stakeholders in a project that ensures the preservation of their natural surroundings, which are of undisputed scientific significance. The Nature Conservancyis responsible for scientific monitoring in the SE Misool MPA, inside of which the MCAs are located, and Misool Baseftin Foundation provides essential field support to these monitoring efforts. A program targeting key biological, fisheries, oceanographic & socio-economic indicators will be routinely implemented to support the adaptive management of the MPA. Socioeconomic monitoring will be undertaken in 2012 and 2013 with local communities interacting with the SE Misool MPA, & corresponding control sites, including Batbitim and Daram, to measure attitudes & behavior towards marine and coastal resources & resource use, & the contribution of the MPA to human well being.
Historically, Daram served as base for outside fishermen who set up camps and destructively fished throughout the region. These fishermen engaged in illegal fishing, shark finning, and turtle/turtle egg harvesting. They levied extreme damage to the reef systems with net fishing, live reef-fish trade, and even dynamite fishing. The Daram MCA is the response to this clear and present danger. The MCA not only creates a legal framework to stop these destructive practices, it also provides for ranger patrols, empowered to enforce the new regulations. In addition, Misool Baseftin, in collaboration with partners, local community leaders, and regional government officials works to: ƒ?› Foster stewardship in local communities, and with local and outside fishermen; ƒ?› Record baseline data of attempts at illegal fishing in the MCA area, and legal fishing in surrounding areas; ƒ?› Ensure that offenders are accountable to the local communities; and, ƒ?› Explore potential collaboration with research institutions interested in the area. Local knowledge, prior experience in managing a marine conservation area, and established relationships with key stakeholders and the regionally active NGOs, combine to ensure Misool Baseftinƒ??s success in managing the Daram MCA. Misool Baseftin is part of the local community, speaks the local language, embraces local culture, and is dedicated to working with the local communities to safeguard the future. In November of 2010, Misool Baseftin played a lead role with the regional government to declare all of Raja Ampat a Shark and Ray Sanctuary. // The Batbitim MCA covers 36,600 hectares of marine areas and the new Daram MCA covers 40,300 hectares. Together, the two MCAs comprise approximately 22% of the 343,200-hectare SE Misool MPA. For the larger Misool MPA, The Nature Conservancyƒ??s Rapid Assessment estimated that on average, 40% of the reefs were considered in ƒ??pristineƒ? condition. In the Daram archipelago, at the far SE corner of the SE Misool MPA, very little formal monitoring work has been conducted. That said, prominent scientists including Conservation Internationalƒ??s Mark Erdmann, have described the reefs in Daram as exceptional and some of the healthiest and most abundant in Raja Ampat. The area is geographically isolated and enjoys a remarkable low population density. The diversity of habitats, including mangroves, reefs, beaches, and deep oceanic corridors, results in a profusion of marine life. The islands of Daram have long beaches that are ideal for nesting turtles. Under the sea surface, an extensive network of pinnacles, ridges and plateaus exists. In some locations, a relatively shallow sea floor is networked with deeper reefs. The reefs and pristine pinnacles are exceptionally healthy with abundant and diverse fish life. We have observed that all of the islands and islets are surrounded by significant reef structures that extend far out across the sea floor. In addition, we have discovered numerous submerged pinnacles and plateaus, all covered in coral reefs. We believe significantly more submerged reef structures exist beyond what we have discovered.

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