Top Raja Ampat Resort Joins World's Hope Spots
Misool Marine Reserve in Raja Ampat has been named as a Mission Blue Hope Spot. Founded by Dr Sylvia Earle, Mission Blue is a global coalition to support marine protected areas - Misool joins the 70 areas in the world that it has accredited as a Hope Spot.
The reserve in the heart of Raja Ampat in Indonesia is a 300,000-acre, privately-managed area where locals have got together with a dive resort to protect the coral reefs.
All types of fishing are prohibited, including longlining and shark-finning.The area is patrolled by a 15-person, locally-staffed and salaried, patrol who are strategically positioned at four stations. The team is supported by radar surveillance, unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) patrols, and marine police.
The reserve was established in 2005 through a partnership between local communities, resort and ecotourism operator (Misool) and NGO (Misool Foundation). In the last decade, the team have achieved some incredible conservation wins. Data shows that ecosystem health and biodiversity is increasing: fish biomass has increased on average by 250 per cent over a six-year period. Anecdotal reports from scuba divers reveal that the diving conditions continue to improve year-on-year. Similarly, anecdotal reports from local fishermen just outside the Misool Marine Reserve confirm higher catch rates.
The reserve includes many critical habitats including a safe haven for spawning groupers, a breeding ground and nursery for blacktip reef sharks and nesting sites for both hawskbill and green sea turtles. Additionally, there have been 19 new species of ‘restricted range endemics’ described at least in part in Misool in the past 10 years, including the recently described Raja Ampat walking shark.
'Misool is a shining beacon of hope within the Coral Triangle,' commented Dr Earle. 'The sheer abundance and diversity of life within the Misool Marine Reserve is unparalleled. Just over a decade ago this area was rife with shark-finners and longliners. The Misool Marine Reserve effectively transformed the region into a sanctuary for sharks, mantas and countless other species. The Misool Marine Reserve embodies the true meaning of a Hope Spot. The team’s steadfast commitment to protection is powered by a unique partnership of responsible tourism and marine conservation.'
'It is incredibly humbling to receive the news that the Misool Marine Reserve has been designated a Mission Blue Hope Spot,' said Misool co-founder Marit Miners. 'This spectacularly beautiful region is also incredibly fragile, and we have to do everything in our power to protect it, for all life that depends on it now and for generations to come. We are humbled by Mission Blue’s stand with us to protect Misool’s marine treasures. None of this would have been possible without the support of our guests, our team and our partners. Most importantly, we acknowledge our unique partnership with our local stakeholders and our ranger patrol. Their foresight, support and continued vigilance has been key to protecting the world’s richest reefs.'