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Achieving Fisheries and Conservation Objectives within Marine Protected Areas: Zoning the Raja Ampat Network

Agostini, Vera N.; Grantham, H. S.; Wilson, J.; Mangubhai, S.; Rotinsulu, C.; Hidayat, N.; Muljadi, A.; Muhajir; Mongdong, M.; Darmawan, A.; Rumetna, L.; Erdmann, M.V.; Possingham, H.P.

Raja Ampat is located on the northwestern tip of Papua in eastern Indonesia and lies within the Bird’s Head Seascape at the heart of the Coral Triangle. This region comprises 4.5 million hectares of ocean, small islands and coral reefs. Raja Ampat is a national and global priority for conservation as it contains the world’s most diverse coral reefs and critical habitats for globally threatened marine species, and is a cetacean migratory corridor. The region’s rich coastal and marine resources, a primary source of food and income for local communities, also make it a target for economic development ranging from fisheries and marine tourism to oil and gas extraction, mining and logging. As a result local governments in this region are facing difficult decisions in their attempt to balance sustainable development with conservation of globally significant marine diversity.

Marine conservation and sustainable resource management in Raja Ampat are high priorities for the national, provincial and regency governments. The Raja Ampat MPA network is made up of seven marine protected areas (MPAs) under regency or national jurisdiction which together currently encompass 1,185,940 ha. Management plans for the five regency MPAs will include multiple use zoning plans. This report describes a process conducted to support the development of zoning plans for Raja Ampat’s MPA network. Activities undertaken included developing a spatial database on species, habitats and human uses; engaging stakeholders through a series of meeting and workshop; applying state of the art conservation planning tools to synthesize information and examine trade-offs. Key features of this process were:

  1. One of the first demonstrations of how to build an information base that can effectively help address multiple management objectives.
  2. One of the first demonstrations of simultaneously addressing both conservation and fisheries objectives in a systematic conservation planning platform.
  3. A suite of tools that enable practitioners to consider the Raja Ampat MPA network as a whole and visualize the consequences of specific decisions not just for a particular site, but for the network as a whole.
  4. A suite of stakeholder consultation activities (including expert mapping exercises and consultation with relevant government agencies and local communities in the region) to ensure that the views and knowledge of local government representatives, practitioners and stakeholders were included in the zoning designs.

Using these tools, it was possible to design a zoning plan which met conservation goals and avoided local fishing grounds by simultaneously considering both objectives. This tool was also used to assess how stakeholder proposed zoning plans met conservation goals or impacted on local fishing grounds.The suite of products generated are an excellent resource for the provincial and regency government agencies and can help guide coastal and marine planning in Raja Ampat. The products described in this report are integral to any zoning initiative regardless of the scale and number of objectives that are addressed, and can serve as a model for other zoning efforts in Indonesia, the broader Coral Triangle region and other parts of the world.

The process illustrated in this report focused on the Raja Ampat MPA network. As is the case in Raja Ampat, MPAs as networks are usually separated by large distances, and uses in areas outside the MPAs should also be addressed. The work outlined in this report can serve as an important basis for potential future spatial planning activities in the wider Bird’s Head Seascape. Management tools such as ocean zoning could facilitate sustainable development at this larger scale providing a number of benefits, including a harmonization with terrestrial land-use planning and tools to facilitate stronger fisheries management that can help secure local community access to food and livelihood in the years to come.