The Raja Ampat, or Four Kings, archipelago encompasses some four million hectares of land and sea off the northwestern tip of Indonesia’s West Papua Province. It is located in the Coral Triangle, the of the world’s coral reef biodiversity, and is home to the highest number of coral species recorded anywhere in the world. Its coral colonies appear to be resilient to threats such as coral bleaching and disease, and the strong currents in the area are believed to sweep coral larvae across the Indian and Pacific oceans to replenish other reef ecosystems. On land, Raja Ampat is home to lush forests, rare plants, limestone outcroppings, and nesting beaches for thousands of sea turtles. Raja Ampat’s coral diversity, resilience to threats, and potential to replenish reefs make it a global priority for marine protection. Though human impacts in Raja Ampat are less severe than elsewhere in Indonesia, the archipelago’s natural resources face an array of threats including unsustainable and destructive fishing practices, deforestation, rapid land development, poor land-use practices, oil and gas exploration and climate change.
In spite of these threats, Raja Ampat has relatively healthy ecosystems, as well as local communities with government structures and interest in natural resource conservation. This affords a unique opportunity for designing and implementing effective marine management strategies that provide a sustainable balance between food provisioning, livelihoods and development.
To work towards this goal, the project team is supporting the development of zoning plans for MPAs in the region. This project considers all of the Raja Ampat MPAs together as a network, as a way of addressing both biodiversity conservation and sustainable fisheries. Developing a network-wide zoning system for the MPAs will strengthen sustainable management of these activities in Raja Ampat by identifying appropriate areas for both conservation and resource use. Given the high reliance of local communities on fishing as a source of food and income, and the importance of developing other sustainable industries such as tourism and low-impact mariculture.
Fact Sheets and Project Links
Photo credit: © Peter Mous/TNC