22 May Nusa Penida a New Hope Spot in the Coral Triangle

The rugged islands and magnificent underwater landscapes of the Nusa Penida Marine Protected Area (MPA) are a reef-lover’s paradise, brimming with creatures like manta rays, sunfish and turtles. Located just a short trip from Bali, the Nusa Penida MPA covers an area of 20,057 hectares surrounding Nusa Penida and two smaller neighboring islands, Nusa Ceningan and Nusa Lembongan. For centuries, the people of the Penida Islands have lived in harmony with these waters. In 2008, the area was identified as a site with a high livelihood dependency on marine resources and was recognized as a critical area for marine biodiversity through a rapid ecological assessment. This report translates to reality for many of the 48,000 members of traditional villages who, on a day-to-day basis, rely on the sea for their livelihoods.

Through the commitment of the Klungkung District and Bali Province governments, the Nusa Penida MPA has become renowned throughout the Coral Triangle region. The MPA received awards in 2013 and 2015 from the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries for its management effectiveness. In recognition, Mission Blue has declared the MPA a new Hope Spot and supports the noble goal of continuing to increase management effectiveness of the area. For the Coral Triangle Center, manifestation of these goals means better enablement of the MPA to sustain community livelihoods and marine biodiversity. Examples of measurable outcomes of management effectiveness include level of compliance with existing regulations, socio-economic progress, improved education around marine resources, and establishment of regulations regarding the number of visitors to the MPA.


Dr. Sylvia Earle, Founder of Mission Blue, says, “Ideally, in order to recover much that’s been lost, we need to establish really large places where we don’t extract the wildlife that’s there. However, it’s also important to respect the coastal communities that have a long history of supporting themselves by taking wildlife from the ocean. The goal is to do what they’re doing in this treasured place in Bali, where people are looking at the whole picture – they are finding methods to sustain themselves in a way that’s both good for the ocean and good for us.”

The Nusa Penida Marine Protected area is world famous for the unique beauty it holds. The area is home to nearly 300 species of coral and more than 500 species of reef fish, a few of which are new to science. Based on a Marine Megafauna Foundation study, two species of manta, the oceanic manta (Mobula birostris) and reef manta (Mobula alfredi) are found within the Nusa Penida MPA. These species are currently listed as vulnerable to extinction on the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List of Endangered Species.

Nengah Bagus Sugiarta, Head of the Bali Province MPA Management Unit explains, “The MPA is beneficial to the local community because the utilization of the area is managed sustainably. The community hopes to achieve balance between utilization and conservation.”

“Local leaders are paving the way for conservation in the area through community outreach, building partnerships and regular patrols,” Sugiarta elaborates. “The management unit is focused on protecting and supporting the marine and coastal ecosystems for a sustainable future.” The management unit supports the MPA through a dedicated zoning system, which controls human activity in each of the seven zones. Two of these zones support the tourism industry, a major source of income for the islands’ residents.

The real beauty of the Nusa Penida Marine Protected Area is rooted in its people. In fact, local residents participated in the planning of the MPA, and they champion reef and mangrove restoration programs on top of assisting with park management. The majority of residents around the Nusa Penida MPA are Balinese, who uphold strong cultural practices, many of which honor the ocean and the immense life it provides. Nusa Penida houses Ped temple, one of the key temples in Bali Province. Once a year, local communities hold a traditional ceremony to demonstrate appreciation for the sea, called “Nyepi Segara” where for one full day, all maritime activities are prohibited – this means no boats come in or out during the ceremony.

“Nusa Penida MPA is an example of how to blend customary practices and modern scientific knowledge in marine resource management. Being one of the most visited areas in Bali, it has a unique position to inspire and influence the public to care for Indonesia and the Coral Triangle’s marine biodiversity. It serves as a gateway to go deeper into the many aspects of ocean conservation and management – from climate change impacts to coral reefs, protection of endangered, threatened and protected species, ecosystem management, community engagement, and MPA zoning implementation,” said Sugiarta.

The Nusa Penida Marine Protected Area Hope Spot has the potential to inspire thousands of tourists, students and the entire world as a Coral Triangle Center Learning Site, exemplifying how marine protected areas in Indonesia can be collaboratively established and effectively managed through the joint efforts of communities, businesses, NGOs and governments.

“At the Coral Triangle Center, we believe in inspiring people to take concrete action to save our oceans and at the same time build capacity and provide the tools needed to enable those on the front lines to implement effective conservation actions that impact not just the marine ecosystem but also the people who depend on them. Nusa Penida MPA is an example of how effective marine conservation can positively impact the environment, the people and the economy,” explains Rili Djohani, Coral Triangle Center Executive Director.


Photos : Leilani Gallardo; Marthen Welly; David Indrayana/CTC

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