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Marine Resource Use in Kofiau and Boo Islands Marine Protected Area, Raja Ampat, West Papua

Muhajir; Purwanto; Mangubhai, S.; Wilson, J.; Ardiwijaya, R.

Resource use monitoring was carried in Kofiau and Boo Islands Marine Protected Area (MPA) from 2006 to 2011, following The Nature Conservancy’s resource use monitoring protocol (Wiadnya et al. 2006). The aim of this monitoring was to identify spatial and temporal patterns in the use and exploitation of marine resources within the Kofiau and Boo Islands to support the zoning of the MPA and to assess changes in use patterns over time. The surveys were carried out by speedboat and covered the entire 170,000 ha area of the MPA. The surveys showed the dominant resource use in the MPA was fishing (99%), with largely recreational diving making up the rest (1%). Most fishers are locals from Deer, Dibalal, and Tolobi (85%), while the remaining fishers are outside/non-local fishers (15%) from Maluku and Sulawesi.

Despite their numerical abundance, local fisheries took just 30% of the total annual catch, while outside fishers took 70% of the total annual catch. Many outside fishers were caught operating illegally in the MPA without a licence or with an expired licence, and were removed from the MPA by the floating ranger station Imbekwan (period 2007-2010) and by local community patrols and accompanying police (period 2011-now). Most local fishers used small vessels, such as canoes and vessels with small outboard motors, while outside fishers used larger vessels with large inboard or outboard motors. There was reduction in the number of fishers from 2006-2011, caused by a decline in the number of non-local vessels frequenting the MPA. A continued reduction in outside fishers through strong enforcement efforts would reduce the fishing pressure on the MPA and would allow for depleted fish populations to recover.

Local fishers tend to fish the waters in Kofiau that are close to human settlement, while outside fishers tend to fish the waters around the Boo Islands and reefs on the southern side of Kofiau Island, which are relatively far from human settlement. The highest number of boats was recorded in the months October to December, when communities are farming or working on their coconut plantations away from their village and are fishing to meet their daily subsistence needs. The lowest number were recorded in the month July to September, which coincides with the southeast monsoon season when sea conditions are rough and reefs in the south and at Boo Islands are fairly inaccessible.

Local fishers used traditional gears, especially hook and line (80%), while outside fishers used more destructive gear types (e.g. large nets) or destructive fishing methods (compressor, cyanide, bomb fishing). About 8% of gear used each year in the MPA falls in the category of destructive fishing gears or methods. Bomb, cyanide and compressor fishing has now largely been removed from the MPA as a result of enforcement and outreach efforts. Large nets, however, are still as of 2011, used by outside fishers frequenting the area (comprising 5% of gear types used), and is likely responsible for the declines in fish stocks recorded in reef health surveys from 2009-2011 (Purwanto et al. 2012).

Dead fish accounted for the largest proportion (40%) of the total annual catch. Live fish comprising mainly groupers and Napoleon wrasse (Cheilinus undulatus) caught largely for the live reef fish trade, made up 11% of the total annual catch in 2011. This fishery is of greatest concern in the MPA because there are currently no functioning spawning aggregations and reef health surveys have shown these populations to be very low (Purwanto et al. 2012). If continued, it is likely that some species will be extirpated from the MPA or will become so low that recovery may take a very long time.

The results from resource use monitoring were used to support the zoning and management planning process for the Kofiau and Boo Islands MPA, and measure temporal changes in patterns of use in the MPA. By sharing the results of this monitoring with local communities it is hoped they will have a better understanding of marine resource use in their MPA, and be more encouraged to work with Raja Ampat regency government to more proactively protect and manage their marine resources.