Only about 1% of the world’s oceans have been designated as protected. This leaves most marine life vulnerable to destructive fishing practices, overfishing, pollution, development and climate change. These threats not only endanger the marine environment, but also jeopardize the livelihoods of local communities.
The Sunda Banda Seacape in eastern Indonesia includes a wide variety of communities with diverse cultural backgrounds and religious beliefs, many of whom rely on the ocean for their livelihoods and sustenance. The seascape also provides critical habitat for many marine species, especially critically endangered leatherback turtles. These magnificent animals weigh up to 2,000 pounds and rely on the sandy beaches for their nesting grounds.
WWF is working with the Indonesian Government to create a network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in the Sunda Banda Seascape. This network of MPAs will span thousands of square miles and help protect the ocean environment. It will shelter endangered species and benefit local communities by promoting healthy commercial fish populations and tourism.
“These waters provide important migratory routes for several species of whale and vital fish populations for local peoples,” explains Catherine Plume, managing director for WWF’s Coral Triangle Program.
Why Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) Matter
For MPAs to be successful, it is important that communities understand why MPAs need to be created. Support and management of MPAs by local peoples is critical for their long-term success. For example, on the island of Kei Kecil in the Sunda Banda Seascape, WWF is working with four formerly warring kingdoms to:
- limit the harvest of the critically endangered leatherback turtle
- stop the use of dynamite and cyanide for fishing, which damage coral reefs and reduce fish populations
- ensure community buy-in and participation in marine protected area management
Approximately 30 percent of the residents on this island live in poverty, making about 50 cents a day. WWF will continue to work to improve the health of the waters around this island, which will benefit the people of Kei Kecil over the long term.
Celebrating 50 Years of Conservation Work
WWF’s Indonesia team is celebrating 50 years of conservation work on land and at sea across the massive archipelago that spans an area greater than the continental United States. A significant part of this work is being implemented in the Coral Triangle, a marine area located in the western Pacific Ocean which includes the waters of Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Solomon Islands, and Timor Leste.
The Coral Triangle has the richest marine biodiversity on Earth and contains:
- seventy-six percent of known coral species and more than 3,000 fish species
- six of the seven species of marine turtles
- many species of whales, dolphins and sharks
- an abundant tuna population that supplies markets worldwide
More than 120 million people rely on these marine resources for food and livelihoods. Yet this plentiful marine area is under more pressure than ever before.
With WWF’s experience in conservation work, input from local communities, support from partners and the Indonesian government, WWF anticipates that the marine environment and local villages, kingdoms and communities will grow and prosper—sustainably—in the Sunda Banda Seascape and within the greater Coral Triangle region.