New MPA declared by the Misool tribe in Raja Ampat
by Meity Mongdong
A new 313,000ha Marine Protected Area was declared by the Matbat/Matlou tribe in North Misool on March 27th2018. The successful MPA management in Raja Ampat have been inspiring communities and the local governments in West Papua to declare more and more MPAs.
The North Misool MPA was declared by the indigenous community of Misool as a response to the rampant destruction and illegal fishing that has occurred in their waters. Most areas in Raja Ampat is protected and has strong oversight by the area management. Through this declaration, the North Misool community has committed to contribute to the stopping of blast fishing, large net fishing and utilizing of floating lift net platforms (Bagan).
The declaration was attended by community leaders from 10 villages in northern part of Misool Islands, representatives from the village government and the regency of Raja Ampat government, the enforcement authority (water police and navy) and the Mayan Adat Council. In addition to the traditional ceremonies, the heads of clan who own of the custom territories also signed an agreement on the establishment of the conservation area.
Meity believes that “the benefits of conservation areas in Raja Ampat are sufficiently perceived by the indigenous peoples who own the area, see the threat to their natural resources and get the benefit from the protection. This is evidenced by the increased interest of the indigenous peoples in Raja Ampat to put aside their customary territory as a conservation area. After 6 (six) Regional Water Conservation Areas declared by indigenous peoples and established by local government in 2008, a conservation area was again declared by the Fam Island indigenous people in February 2016 and just recently, in March 2018 Matbat and Matlou indigenous peoples of North Misool Raja Ampat declared their water area of approximately 330,000 hectares as a customary controlled Marine Protected Area. They want to protect the Dugong populations as the charismatic species of North Misool water that have large seagrass habitat as a source of food for these animals while protecting coral reefs and fisheries of the region from the threat of destruction and over fishing from outside ships.”
Meity Mongdong is Conservation International’s West Papua Marine Manager.