Rangers from BLUD UPTD Raja Ampat and Yayasan Misool Baseftin

Earlier in February facilitated a 3 day training in the Misool South Marine Protected Area (MPA), where we worked together with ranger patrol units from both Yayasan Misool Baseftin and BLUD UPTD Raja Ampat in the field implementation of SEA TRACKER; a digital solution for improved management of Marine Protected Areas.

The (southern) Misool Islands MPA is the second largest and most southerly MPA in Raja Ampat. This vast area stretches across 346,189ha, and is divided further into three administrative regions, East, South and West Misool. Almost the entirety of the MPA is sasi area (a traditional utilisation zone), which also includes 12 ‘no take zones’ covering approximately 130,000ha where all extractive practices are prohibited – this means no fishing of any kind, no collecting turtle eggs, no coral extraction.

The ranger patrol units from BLUD UPTD Raja Ampat and Yayasan Misool Baseftin, are responsible for supervising zoning regulation and ensuring that violations are deterred, and if/when encountered, reported to relevant law enforcement bodies (current regulation does not give rangers jurisdiction for direct law enforcement). Yet similar to patrol units that monitor large areas the world over, these rangers face numerous challenges relating to remote area management, in this instance illegal fishing combined with the varying complexities of social, cultural and political pressures that influence the presence/absence of illegal fishing. In particular territories, bagans (a type of fishing vessel) from outside the area pull tonnes of fish from traditional fishing grounds each night, transferring the catch to container vessels which transit to the city of Sorong (which is outside the Raja Ampat regency) 2-3 times per week. This style of fishing occurs directly alongside local fisherman using traditional long boats and handlines to catch a few fish to feed their family. Bagan fishing is illegal within Raja Ampat’s MPAs, as per the Provincial laws governing the MPAs. However, the intensity at which this occurs, and the motives and reasons behind why it occurs so openly, is indicative of the social, cultural and legal complexities and challenges that rangers and authorities face in MPA Management within Raja Ampat.

SEA TRACKER is a single tool within the large set of tools and techniques required to solve the issue of illegal fishing within the southern Misool MPA (or any of Raja Ampat’s MPAs). In collaboration with MPA management authorities, it is hoped that this technology, which provides real time reporting along with capability for data visualisation and analysis, strengthens the ability of rangers and MPA managers to better measure and monitor the impact of illegal fishing, and subsequently provide the necessary facts, evidence and data that could support improved law enforcement, and enhanced  social awareness of the short and long term impact of illegal fishing within MPAs.

Thankyou to the rangers of Yayasan Misool Baseftin and BLUD UPTD Raja Ampat (Misool unit) for attending this training; once again we learned as much as we taught, and (once again) were struck by the commonalities and variances within and between the MPAs within Raja Ampat, and complexities of managing such vast and remote marine spaces.