Raja Ampat is one of the most important areas of marine biodiversity in the world and in 2007 the government there decided they needed to take action to keep it that way. They did this by declaring a network of seven Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) to ensure the long-term health of the marine ecosystems.
Over the past 10 years more MPAs have been added and now cover 45% of Raja Ampat’s coral reefs and mangroves. This area is around 35,000 square kilometres of incredible scenery, ocean life including Birie Island where Papua Paradise Eco Resort is located.
Raja Ampat is an extremely desirable target for economic development, but being protected has kept this happening. Tight controls on tourism developments, fisheries, oil and gas exploration, mining and logging have allowed Raja Ampat to continue to be one of the richest marine areas in the world.
How the Marine Park is Funded
Conservation International (CI) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC), as well as the Indonesian government’s Coral Reef Rehabilitation and Management Program (COREMAP) currently control management of the marine protected areas. This helps with funding, but there is also a permit that must be purchased to enter the park.
The Rp1 million permit discourages mass tourism and also contributes to the running costs of the marine park. The price of the permit is included in your stay at Papua Paradise and allows you to dive in any areas of the park.
Programs in the Marine Park
Another huge step forward for conservation was the creation of a sanctuary for dugongs, manta rays, sharks, and turtles in 2014. This sanctuary covers a massive 46,000 square kilometres around Raja Ampat. In this area these marine creatures are fully protected from any destructive practices, including reef bombing and any activities for the aquarium fish trade.
Considering Indonesia has the highest rate of shark fishing in the world, this sanctuary could have an incredibly positive effect on shark populations worldwide. It also encourages other Indonesian government agencies to review their own policies to keep up with the positive changes in the Raja Ampat region.
Protecting these marine animals will not only ensure the safety of the ecosystem, but also encourage tourists to visit the area. And dive tourism, a controlled amount of course, is one of the best ways to bring prosperity to Raja Ampat.
The Future of Raja Ampat Marine Park
Scientists are constantly discovering new species and drawing new conclusions in Raja Ampat. These advances include the discovery that the coral around Raja Ampat is more resilient to fluctuations in water temperatures. This allows the coral larvae to be swept into the Indian and Pacific Oceans to replenish other reef ecosystems.
Because of the diversity of coral in Raja Ampat, this could help the survival of reefs all over the world.
With the help of the international NGOs like Conservation International, The Nature Conservancy, Shark Savers, and Walton Family Foundation, as well as government agencies and resorts like Papua Paradise Eco Resort, Raja Ampat is at the forefront of marine biodiversity studies and advances.
What You Can Do to Help
When you stay at Papua Paradise you will be asked to obey the rules of the marine park and the resort. You can read more about how you can make your stay as eco-friendly as possible here: Diving Responsibly in Raja Ampat.
What do you think of Raja Ampat’s conservation efforts? We’d love to know how you feel about the progress they are making in conserving their beautiful ecosystems in the comments below.