18 Apr CTC Conducts Underwater and Socio-economic Surveys in Lease Islands as Baseline for Marine Protected Area Establishment

CTC conducted a series of underwater surveys in Lease Islands, Central Maluku, from  April 2-15,2018 as part of its implementation of the USAID Sustainable Ecosystems Advanced (SEA) Project. The Lease Islands are located east of Ambon. It consists of three main islands called Haruku, Saparua, and Nusalaut and smaller uninhabited islets, which are all known for their rich marine biodiversity. The survey aimed to provide baseline data to support the establishment of marine protected area in Lease Islands.

During the underwater survey, we assessed the existing condition of marine and coastal ecosystems by assessing fish density and biomass coral and seagrass cover as well as mangrove diversity and abundance. We used various assessment methods to study the coral reefs such as Manta Tow, Point Intercept Transect and Photo Transect methodology. We used visual census to assess fish density and biomass. The activities were done in 27 observation points in all three major islands in Lease, as well as in one small island called Molana. Additionally, the measurement of mangrove used line and quadrant transect while seagrass was measured percent cover following English et al 1997.

Preliminary results show that overall coral reef coverage, mangrove and seagrass ecosystems in Lease Island are in good condition. The team also found charismatic marine animals such as the rare Dugong which locals call Booi! The team was also able to engage one of the local leaders, the Raja of Aboru, to join one of the dive surveys to enable the local community to experience first hand the abundance of  their marine biodiversity.

We are currently working with Pattimura University in Ambon and Diponegoro University in Semarang to analyze the obtained data. The final report will be presented to the local government and other key stakeholders at the community level in Lease Islands

Understanding the Local Community’s Use of their Marine Environment

Apart from the underwater survey, we also conducted as socioeconomic survey among Lease Islands’ local communities. The survey aimed to gather data on the community’s understanding of their local marine environment as well as study the traditional methods that they use in protecting their resources called Sasi. Using perception monitoring and focus group discussion methods, we covered 27 villages in all three major islands in Lease, reaching more than 600 households and 1.000 individuals as respondents.

CTC collaborated with Moluccas Coastal Care, a youth organization from Pattimura University in Ambon to conduct the socio-economic survey. Our team is currently analysing data from the survey and data report will be presented to the local government and other key stakeholders at the community level in Lease Islands.

Photos by Purwanto/CTC, Ehvi Ihsan/CTC and Yoga Putra/CTC

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