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Marit Miners of Misool Eco Resort

Marit Miners of Misool Eco Resort

Marit from Misool Eco Resort tells us about their work in marine conservation and the community in the remotely beautiful region of Raja Ampat, Indonesia. An area wit some of the highest marine biodiversity in the world. Marit has been actively involved both before and since the resort was opened in 2005.

Marit-001

Photos Courtesy of Misool Eco Resort, Martin Guess & Jez O’Hare

Tell Us a bit about your conservation projects in and around Misool Eco Resort and the No Take Zone.

When we started this project in 2005, we knew that Raja Ampat was the centre of marine biodiversity, with more species of fish and coral than anywhere else in the world.  But we saw how vulnerable this area was and desperately wanted to protect it.

The original plan was actually to start a conservation centre in Raja Ampat, but we couldn’t figure out a way to fund it.   Eventually we hit upon the idea to combine sustainable tourism and conservation, and Misool Eco Resort grew out of that dream.

The island, which would eventually become home to Misool Eco Resort, was an itinerant shark finning camp.  Fishermen from other parts of Indonesia had removed nearly all the sharks and apex predators, which of course destabilized the entire ecosystem.

We made a contract with the local people for the exclusive right of use for our island as well as the sea and reefs around it, and now the total protected area is 1220 sq km (about twice the size of Singapore).   This area is protected by our Ranger Patrol team.

The conservation wing of our project, called Foundation Misool Baseftin (or Yayasan Misool Baseftin in Indonesian), takes a broad approach to marine conservation.

How Important is the Ranger Programme in Implementing your conservation efforts.

The way we see things, the reefs are our business’s best assets so we are committed to protecting them.  Misool Baseftin administers our No-Take Zones, and our Rangers patrol the NTZs 24 hours a day.  We’ve got a team of 12 Rangers and a fleet of 4 patrol vessels operating between 3 satellite Ranger Stations.

For our guests, the pay off is clear:  a marine scientist surveyed fish biomass in 2007 and then again in 2013 and found an average of 250% increase inside our No-Take Zone.  The diving is simply spectacular.

For the local people, the benefit is also clear.  The Rangers are all local Misool community members.  The Patrol is just a vehicle to facilitate the protection of their natural heritage and birthright.  And of course, the fish don’t know where the boundaries of the No Take Zone are.  They swim out towards the villages, increasing the catch for local people.

Furthermore, the resort itself provides employment to upwards of 100 people.  This is a very significant contribution to the local economy, which keeps many people employed and decoupled from the extraction of marine resources.

Marit-002

Photos Courtesy of Misool Eco Resort, Martin Guess & Jez O’Hare

What other NGO’s do you work with?

We partner with WildAid, Conservation International, and The Nature Conservancy.

How are you rebuilding existing damage to the reef caused by El Nino events and illegal fishing?

We’re rebuilding the reefs by just getting out of the way and letting Mother Nature take care of things.  Simply halting all fishing activity has allowed fish stocks to recover at an incredible rate.  Just shy of a decade ago, the lagoon was a shark finning camp.   Now it is a busy nursery for black tip reef sharks.  We regularly see between one and two dozen shark practicing their hunting skills in the shallows, and we see sharks on every dive.

You do a lot within the local community; tell us a bit about these projects.

Another aspect of the work of Foundation Misool Basetfin, in addition to the No-Take Zones, we also have built kindergartens, sponsored local teachers, and most recently, started a community recycling project called ‘Bank Sampah.’  It’s a simple idea that provides an economic incentive for people to dispose of their rubbish properly.  This project has now expanded from Misool to the port city of Sorong, where we’ve collected 70 tons of rubbish in the first 4 months of operation.  Exciting times!

Marit-003

Photos Courtesy of Misool Eco Resort, Martin Guess & Jez O’Hare

How do you feel about the future of conservation in Raja Ampat

The rate at which fish stocks and reefs can recover was truly astounding – they just need a little bit of help in the form of active protection and enforcement.  I believe our model is an effective and extremely cost efficient way to do conservation.

That being said, we can never let our guard down.  Our protected waters are becoming richer while the surrounding waters continue to be depleted.  As that differential increases, the pressure to maintain our vigilance becomes ever more acute.

How can people help support this invaluable work?

There are lots of ways to get involved in supporting this project and protecting the world’s richest reefs.   Visiting Misool Eco Resort is a simple way to not only experience it yourself, but also to ensure the conservation work continues.

If you’d like to do more, you can donate to our Foundation Misool Baseftin in Indonesia, or through our partner in the US.  WildAid is a registered 501(c) 3 charity.

A donation of any size can help:

  • 10 USD buys enough fuel to take our supply boat from our base station at the resort to the Yellit Ranger Station.
  • 300 USD buys enough fuel for one patrol around our No-Take Zones
  • 2000 USD covers our Ranger Patrol’s monthly payroll

For more Information www.misoolecoresort.com

 
 
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