21 Apr CTC Team Starts Groundwork to Establish an MPA in the Lucipara Islands

The CTC Team, composed of Executive Director Rili Djohani and MPA Learning Site Manager Purwanto traveled to the Banda Sea in April 2021 to conduct ecological and socio-economic surveys in the Lucipara Islands onboard the Seven Sea Liveaboard. The data collected from this expedition, will be used to develop a marine protected area to help conserve the islands’ rich biodiversity. The Lucipara Islands consists of seven islands located within two islands groups – the Penyu Island Group (Bingkudu, Kadola and Mai) and the Maisel island Group (Maisel, Selatan, Karaungka and Laponda islands). These islands can be found in the middle of the Inner Banda Arc in the Banda Sea and fall under the jurisdiction of the Seram Bagian Barat District, Maluku Province. The Lucipara Islands are very remote, located approximately 100 nautical miles from the nearest local community settlement in Rhun Island and 110 nautical miles from Ambon, the capital city of Maluku Province.

The CTC team was able to survey all islands in four days using the manta tow method and recorded more than 1100 turtles, mostly green turtles, hawksbill and some loggerhead turtles. There are no villages on the islands, but the CTC team managed to meet family members who own and harvest the coconut trees on the islands every year. They also met staff from the Distrik Navigasi Kelas I Ambon’, under Directorate General of Maritime Transportation, Ministry of Transportation who visit the islands every three months to change the staff and provide supplies at the lighthouse on Mai Island. CTC team further discussed their potential role in monitoring the area. 

The underwater beauty and the pristine coral reefs in the Lucipara Islands have attracted dive tourism, mainly from liveaboard boats. The islands have wall dives with overhangs, soft and black corals, barrel sponges, sea fans, as well as schools of barracudas and trevallies. Dive tourists also commonly encounter groupers, rays and sharks including the iconic hammerhead sharks. Marine resources in the Lucipara islands are mainly threatened by human activities related to destructive fishing practices. plastics and marine debris can be found on the beaches. Other threats are more natural in nature such as wave impact, as growth competition between sponges, tunicates with corals predation and coral disease. Although currently identified threats are still at low levels, conservation efforts are needed to anticipate threats in the future and ensure the protection of marine resources in the Lucipara Islands.

In 2018, the Maluku Province government recognized the rich marine resources in the Lucipara Islands and identified it as a marine conservation under its provincial coastal and small islands zoning plan. This serves as a formal basis to support conservation efforts in the Lucipara islands.

Photo Credit: Purwanto/CTC

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