We're proud to announce that KOMUNTO — a community fishing group and Conservancy partner working to preserve Indonesia's magnificent Wakatobi resources — has won a prestigious Equator Prize! The prize rewards groups that alleviate poverty through conservation initiatives.
Congratulations to KOMUNTO!
The reefs of Wakatobi National Park — the third largest marine park in Indonesia — support a tremendously colorful cross-section of biodiversity. But its 3.4 million acres of islands and waters support a fishing industry that, through destructive practices and overuse, has placed those same natural resources in danger.
The Nature Conservancy is working with WWF-Indonesia, supporting planning and improving efficiency throughout the park. We helped Wakatobi become the first Indonesian national park to adopt a zoning system approved by both the central and local governments as well as the communities living within the Park.
Increased Awareness — and Biodiversity
Our concerted efforts are making local communities more cognizant of the impacts their actions have on the environment and increasingly willing to protect its vital resources in the future. The reefs may shelter a wide variety of wildlife species, but they need protection as well, and fishers from Tomia village are assuming increased responsibility.
Armin Sahari, a fisher from Tomia, says, “In the beginning, we knew that one of the diving spots near Tomia Island was a fish spawning area, and that the fish stocks were down. But we were skeptical that declaring it a no-take area would restore the fish supply.”
The results overcame Armin’s skepticism. “We decided to work with the National Park Authority and The Nature Conservancy-WWF Joint Program to make the area off limits to fishing for three years,” he says. “After that time, sure enough, we saw fish that hadn’t been in those waters since long, long ago. Dogtooth tuna, giant trevally and groupers are coming back.”
Inspiring a sea change
The Conservancy, together with WWF-Indonesia, plays an active role in Wakatobi conservation. From helping start a turtle hatching program on the islands of Anano and Runduma to running regular patrols using a floating ranger station patrol boat, we’re fostering local enthusiasm for conservation throughout the region.
Other strategies include:
- Raising awareness of the importance of marine protected areas for sustainable development and biodiversity protection
- Providing park rangers, local non-governmental organizations and community members with training in marine protected area management, monitoring and surveillance, sustainable resource use and spawning aggregation protection
- Replenishing fish stocks and encouraging sustainable tourism opportunities to promote the health of local communities
In 2008, Wakatobi’s 25-year management plan was officially adopted by Indonesia’s Director General of Forest Protection and Nature Conservation. A long-term plan means that recent achievements are only the first steps toward ensuring the area’s long-term health.
But in order for Wakatobi to provide sustainable fisheries and livelihoods as well as survive the stresses of climate change — in order for it to outlast its 25-year plan — continued support and conservation innovation are necessary.
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