The North Misool Marine Protected Area received traditional recognition as an MPA in March 2018, with a declaration from the local community and in collaboration with Yayasan Nazareth Papua and Conservation International (CI).
A collective aspiration by the Matbat and Matlou people who inhabit the nine local villages in North Misool (Salafen; Waigama; Aduwey; Solal; Atkari; Audam; East Limalas; West Limalas, and Foley), the declaration agreed that 313,708 hectares of territorial waters would become a protected area.
Although at this time, less is known about North Misool than other more frequented areas of Raja Ampat, monitoring has shown a highly diverse ecosystem; marine mammals are often sighted, including dolphins, Bryde’s whales, orcas and whale sharks; the area is the location of important habitats for sharks and manta rays, and is also well known for its salt water crocodiles, which are still abundant in several of the larger rivers on the northern coast.
The North Misool Customary MPA is also an important habitat for dugongs. Since 2008, Yayasan Nazareth Papua and the local community, have been conducting a Dugong identification program in locations where dugongs are known to regularly search for food. This program has since evolved into a dedicated conservation initiative, including a dugong surveillance patrol.
In August to September 2019, a team from Raja Ampat Marine Park Authority, University of Papua (UNIPA), Yayasan Nazareth Papua, Conservation International, and The Nature Conservancy conducted a study Marine Rapid Assessment Program (MRAP) in North Misool waters. The MRAP was conducted over 26 dive sites, and results showed at least 4 dive sites with more than 300 species of reef fish present, one site in particular held 388 reef fish species – the new ‘world record’ for number of fish species identified in a single dive. In addition, this rapid study also noted several reef fish species that had never been recorded before. The results of this MRAP are currently being used to provide science based inputs into MPA Management planning and final zonation.
Like other areas in Raja Ampat, this abundance of natural resources, combined with a remote location and limited accessibility, creates challenges with respect to governance. The waters in North Misool are targets for destructive fishing activities, including bomb fishing and cyanide fishing, as well as unsustainable fishing activities that use large-scale fishing gear. The area is also known for its illegal trade in protected plants and wildlife.
In accordance with the governmental regulations in Indonesia, the North Misool Customary MPA is currently in the process of receiving official designation by the Governor of West Papua, before officially being determined by the Minister of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries. During this time, and upon receiving official determination, the management of North Misool MPA, falls under the jurisdiction of the local community, in collaboration with Yaysan Nazareth Papua, and The Raja Ampat Marine Park Authority.
Northern Misool MPA
Click to englarge Map. Final Zoning for the North Misool MPA is currently being determined by local communities, local and provincial governments and NGOs.