- The Maluku Islands in Indonesia will protect more swaths of their seas this year, following from the designation of five marine protected areas in 2022 alone.
- The new protected areas will cover the waters around the western island of Buru, where fishing activity will be limited to traditional fishers using sustainable gear.
- Indonesia currently has 284,000 square kilometers (110,000 square miles) of marine area under protection, roughly two-thirds of its target of protecting 10% of its waters.
- The Maluku Islands sit within the Pacific Coral Triangle, an area renowned for its richness of corals and reef fish.
AMBON, Indonesia — Authorities in Indonesia’s Maluku province say they will establish new marine protected areas this year, following from five created last year alone, as part of wider efforts to preserve natural resources while boosting the local economy.
“In 2023, we are already targeting to designate a marine protected area in the [northern] waters around Buru district since the funding is already secured,” Erawan Asikin, head of the provincial fisheries department, told Mongabay Indonesia on Jan. 10. He added the Maluku government is also looking to designate the waters off southern Buru district as a conservation zone.
Last year, Maluku designated a total of five MPAs around a group of islands in the eastern part of the province, namely Tanimbar, Damer, Babar, Romang, Mdona Hiera, Lakor, Moa, and Letti. The establishment of the new areas was supported by the conservation group WWF Indonesia.
These new and upcoming MPAs in Maluku are part of Indonesia’s target to conserve 10% of its territorial resources by the end of this decade. The country currently has 284,000 square kilometers (110,000 square miles) of marine area under protection, roughly two-thirds of the way toward the goal. The Indonesian marine conservation network includes national parks, nature parks, wildlife reserves, and regional protected areas.
Erawan said the planned MPA in northern Buru would put the protection of the leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) as its top priority, as the site is a key part of the species’ habitat network in this part of the Western Pacific. “That’s why leatherback sea turtles are worth the protection and we’ve been called to conserve them,” Erawan said.
Fishing boats larger than 10 gross tonnage will be prohibited from entering the newly declared marine protected areas; only traditional and small-scale fishers using sustainable fishing equipment will be permitted to operate there, under a 2016 law on marine conservation areas.
Some marine experts have praised the Maluku provincial government for its efforts to protect ocean resources through establishing protected areas. “Economically, areas that are designated for conservation have high economic value,” Welem Waileruny, marine and fisheries scientist at Pattimura University in Ambon, the provincial capital, told Mongabay Indonesia.
Maluku sits within the Pacific Coral Triangle, an area renowned for its richness of corals and reef fish. Indonesia’s marine biodiversity plays an important role in the domestic and global supply of seafood.
Basten Gokkon is a senior staff writer for Indonesia at Mongabay. Find him on Twitter @bgokkon.
FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the author of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page.