September 15, 2017, Raja Ampat, Indonesia – Mission Blue announced today that it has recognized the 300,000-acre, privately-managed Misool Marine Reserve as a Mission Blue Hope Spot.
Led by legendary oceanographer Dr. Sylvia Earle, Mission Blue is uniting a global coalition to inspire an upwelling of public awareness and support for a worldwide network of marine protected areas. Hope Spots are special places that are critical to the health of the ocean. (photo – Tobias Zimmer)
Ranger Patrol on guard!
The Misool Marine Reserve, in Raja Ampat, Indonesia, is a protected area inside which all extractive practices are prohibited, including longlining and shark-finning. The area is patrolled by a 15-person, locally-staffed and salaried Ranger Patrol who are strategically positioned at 4 Ranger Stations. The team is supported by radar surveillance, unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) patrols, and marine police. (photo – Shawn Heinrichs)
Fish biomass up 250%
The Reserve was established in 2005 through a powerful partnership between local communities, private island 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 of 250% 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 Fish Factory”
Situated within the Coral Triangle, Raja Ampat is known as the ‘Fish Factory’ and the Misool Marine Reserve is the jewel in the crown of Raja Ampat’s astounding biodiversity. In addition to over 699 species of mollusc, 1,564 described species of reef fish and over 75% of the world’s known coral species, the Misool Marine Reserve includes many critical habitats. (photo – Kevin Korpics)
The surrounding area provides a safe haven for spawning groupers, acts as a breeding ground and nursery for black tip reef sharks and the sandy beaches around Misool are popular 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. (photo – Shawn Heinrichs)
“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.”
“spectacularly beautiful and also incredibly fragile”
“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.”
The Blue Ocean Team send congratulations for all the incredible effort that everyone at Misool has put into making the marine reserve a glowing example of what can be done!
By Robert Frerck, Blue Ocean Network
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