Sea Sanctuaries is a conservation organization primarily focused on protecting vulnerable ecosystems in the heart of the Coral Triangle. Our initial focus area is Raja Ampat, which is situated in West Papua’s Bird’s Head Seascape. Our first project is based around the uninhabited island of Penemu, which lies directly in the path of the nutrient rich currents of the Dampier Strait. Unfortunately, Penemu’s hugely bio-diverse populations of fish, invertebrates and corals are targets for illegal fishermen.
After 12 months of socialization and discussion, in 2011 we signed a Marine Conservation Agreement (MCA), which enables us to work with local people to protect over 700 square kilometers of some of the most biologically valuable marine habitats in the world.
In 2012 the Local Government of Raja Ampat created three special laws officially recognizing the legal status of our MCA, which now has the full force of Indonesian law behind it.
The main objective of the MCA is to create large ‘no take zones’ to protect Penemu’s existing unique and highly bio-diverse ecosystem. Our MCA runs for 25 years and allows for full recovery of damaged areas of the No Take Zones. An additional environmental and community benefit is to allow recruitment of commercial fish species to overspill from the No Take Zones to the adjacent local fishing grounds where local villagers can catch fish using traditional methods for home consumption. Thus, a sustainable cycle of protection and community fishing can rebalance the area.
We work with local villagers to provide community benefits in return for their agreement not to fish in the No Take Zones. We train and employ local villagers to act as rangers to patrol the No Take Zones to prevent fishing. We also help local villagers create small locally owned businesses, which provide income as an alternative to destructive fishing and shark finning. If local people are prepared to stop destructive fishing and help us, we, in turn, need to provide social and economic benefits to the villages such as educational, medical, agricultural and other programs where they are needed.
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