13 Nov Surveying Some of the World’s Most Diverse Reefs in the Banda Islands

To further continue the establishment process of the Ay and Rhun Islands MPAs, and promote their effective management, research and data collection must be conducted to ensure that marine resource management is informed by the latest scientific data. 

From November 2-13, the Coral Triangle Center, with full support from the USAID Sustainable Ecosystem Advanced (SEA) Project, conducted parallel scientific assessments in Ay and Rhun Islands MPAs. 

           

Socio-economic and perception monitoring surveys were conducted in four villages, with Ay and Rhun Villages as the main targets, and Kampung Baru and Selamon Village as the control villages. The survey included 30 household respondents in each village to gain insights into socio-economic factors, including demography, fisheries, marine tourism and traditional wisdom on coastal and marine resource management, as well as the community members’ concerns regarding the MPAs. The survey’s preliminary results indicated that the majority of the community members feel positively about marine conservation,  and support the Ay and Rhun MPA designs and management plans, and understand the impact and benefits of marine conservation to their lives and livelihoods.

Meanwhile, underwater biophysical assessments were conducted at 22 sites around the islands. Preliminary results from the underwater surveys indicated that the islands’ marine ecosystems are in good health, with results showing that target fish species (e.g. grouper, snapper and giant trevally) remain in abundant supply. This means that there are enough fish stocks to support the fisheries industries in the area, which remain mostly artisanal. The team also recorded five new reef fish species: Platax Boersi (bat fish), Chaetodon Guentheri (butterfly fish), Rinchodon Typus (whale shark), Cephalopolis Igarashiensis (deep sea grouper), and Saloptya Powelli (deep sea grouper), that were not observed in the baseline survey in 2012. 

The team found the majority of reefs to contain relatively high coral cover, with very good coral recruitment in the islands of Ay, Rhun, Hatta, and  Sekaru.

The CTC team is now analyzing the survey results and will submit the final report to the Banda Islands MPA Management Unit (TWP Laut Banda) to further improve the management of the Banda Islands MPA Network, and to support the effective management of Ay and Rhun MPAs. For this survey, the CTC team was supported by Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies, FPIK Universitas Pattimura, the Banda Islands MPA Management Unit (TWP Laut Banda), Cluster VI of Marine and Fisheries Office Banda Islands, TNC Indonesia and Luminocean Foundation Banda.

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