Misool Foundation works across Indonesia
Misool Foundation's home base is in Raja Ampat, Indonesia, at the very heart of the Coral Triangle and focused on the future of the most biodiverse reefs in the world. The Foundation has expanded its efforts to include critical conservation areas across the Indonesian archipelago, developing programs and campaigns focused on safeguarding threatened species and important marine habitats. Misool Foundation maintains field offices in Misool, Sorong, and Lamakera/Savu Sea.
misool, raja ampat, indonesia
Raja Ampat’s reefs lie at the epicentre of marine biodiversity, in the heart of the Coral Triangle. The region is home to 75% of the world’s known coral species, and close to 1,500 species of fish. In an area the size of two football fields, scientists discovered more than six times as many coral species as live in the entire Caribbean Sea.
Due to the remote location and low population density of the region, the reefs remain remarkably intact. The reefs are of enormous scientific importance for a multitude of reasons, including their documented and unusual resilience to fluctuations in sea temperature. Ocean currents called the Indonesian Through-flow wash coral polyps from Raja Ampat westwards, effectively repopulating and sustaining much of the reefs of Southeast Asia and the Coral Triangle. As ocean temperatures rise due to climate change, these regenerative coral polyps become more and more important.
The surge in consumption of shark fin soup in the 1990s is directly linked to the degradation of specific reef systems in South East Misool, Raja Ampat. Removing sharks, which are apex predators, gravely destabilizes the ecosystem. All 14 species of shark targeted globally for the shark fin soup trade are now threatened with extinction. The resulting imbalance jeopardizes all levels of the ecosystem, including bonito tuna, which is a vital protein source for the people of Raja Ampat.
Since Misool established the first No-Take Zone (NTZ) in 2005, reef shark populations and fish biomass have recovered rapidly. However, as the richness of the reefs inside the NTZ increases, the pressure from illegal fishing also increases. Misool Foundation’s suite of conservation initiatives addresses these urgent issues.
Key projects: raja ampat
lamakera/savu sea, flores
Lamakera is a small village located in the centre of Indonesia and one of the centres of the global manta ray gill raker trade. Manta rays are hunted for their gill rakers and other body parts, which are exported to China for bogus medicinal purposes. Positioned in the nutrient-rich Lamakera Strait, the Lamakerans have fished for generations. Over the last two to three decades, increased demand and technology has taken fishing from sustenance driven to a barbaric, profit-fuelled trade.
As the demand for manta ray products and the manta gill-raker trade grew in the early 2000’s, the community increased its fishing efforts, converting to diesel engines and landing thousands of mantas in a single season. Since then, fishing intensity has increased. As catches began to decrease, fishermen went further afield to find rays to harvest. As a consequence, Lamakerans have been hunting not only a local population, but also a large regional population of mantas that migrates through the area.
While specifics on the population size and full range of Lamakera’s mantas are yet unknown research has suggested that Lamakera’s fishery may be the world’s largest manta ray landing site, contributing significantly to the annual income of a small number of fishers. Catch data suggests a marked decline in manta ray populations that migrate along this corridor (a study conducted in 2002 suggested a catch of 1,050-2,400 manta rays each year– in 2010, 990 mobulids were caught). Now with the declaration of the nation-wide manta sanctuary, the community of Lamakera is at a critical crossroads: comply with the sanctuary and potentially loose a key component of their income; or, disregard it, sending the manta fishery into collapse while facing possible legal consequences.