12 Nov Coral Reefs in Banda Remains Resilient
Amidst climate change threats which have warmed and acidified our oceans globally, a recent reef health monitoring (RHM) survey carried out by CTC’s learning sites team around the Banda and Ay-Rhun Islands marine protected areas (MPAs) showed positive results. All corals observed at 14 sites were found to be in healthy condition with no indication of coral bleaching or being damaged by any destructive fishing practices.
CTC conducted the RHM survey from November 12 to 17, 2021. In doing underwater observation, our team was also supported by personnel from the Marine Affairs and Fisheries Agency (DKP) Maluku Province, Marine Recreation Park (TWP) of Banda Sea and the office of Marine and Fisheries Resources Surveillance (PSDKP) of Banda Islands. Another support also came from the
Luminocean program of the Blue Motion Dive Center in Banda, which had facilitated the survey transportation between observation points using their Gandalf Wooden Boat. According to Purwanto, CTC MPA Learning Site Manager, healthy coral reefs were observed at the depth of 3 and 10 meters of the waters around Ay, Rhun, Hatta and Gunung Api Islands in Banda. The Point Intercept Transect (PIT) was used as the main methodology to assess the percentage of living corals. Healthy coral colonies in Banda, dominated by Staghorn (Acropora Cervicornis) and Branching (Acropora Florida) species, all appeared in shades of olive green and brown, and none of them were affected by diseases or bleaching. On the other hand, the CTC also found an abundant and healthy population of indicator fish species signalling a healthy ecosystem. These indicator fish species include grouper, snapper and barracuda that were often seen swimming along with surgeon fish and bump-head parrot fish. Finally, the team also observed some spawning activities of Napoleon Wrasse (Cheilinus undulatus) fish near the Nailaka and Tanjung Noret, Rhun Island, indicating the overall robust and dynamic ecosystems. “So far, we are happy with the survey result. Once the report is completed, we will deliver a training about RHM survey for local teams in Ay-Rhun and Banda Islands MPAs, also for DKP Maluku teams. Therefore, they can conduct the same survey on their own in the future,” said Purwanto.
CTC has been supporting the government, local partners and communities in the Ay and Rhun Islands since 2012 to design and develop a resilient MPA. In 2016, the Maluku Province Government issued a decree for the establishment of the Ay-Rhun Islands MPA which was then followed by an official declaration by the Indonesian Ministry of Marine Affairs in June 2021. The successful protection of the marine biodiversity within Ay-Rhun and the Banda Islands MPAs is also closely linked to the role of local communities who have revived Sasi, the local custom that regulates the extraction of natural resources in a sustainable manner. This year, the community in Ay Island just reopened their Sasi for a few weeks after having it closed for the last two years. Not only protecting some key species from extinction, the Sasi also safeguards the natural habitat and ecosystems of those species from anthropogenic damage and threats.
Other than conducting the RHM survey, the CTC team also managed to meet local communities in Rhun Island for a short ceremony of transferring a donated longboat to the Nailaka surveillance group (Pokmaswas). Since early this year, CTC has helped shipbuilding the boat named Mameng – a local name for Napoleon Wrasse fish, that will facilitate the Pokmaswas group in Rhun conducting regular monitoring. Our team also went to Ay Island to hand over a plastic shredder machine to the Pokmaswas Lawere to maintain the island as clean and plastic-free.
Photos by Purwanto/CTC, Wira Sanjaya/CTC & Evi Ihsan/CTC