Raja Ampat Wins Blue Park Award for Marine Ecosystem Protection

Raja Ampat Tourist Area (Elysabeth Chrisye – d’Traveler)

West Papua’s famed Raja Ampat islands, an area of great biodiversity as well as a picturesque tourist destination was recently honoured with The Blue Park Award by the Marine Conservation Institute, which recognizes outstanding marine protected areas (MPAs) all over the world. An MPA is a section of ocean where a government has limited human activity in order to protect it from threats including overfishing, litter, water pollution, and the effects of global climate change.

The Raja Ampat Islands Marine Conservation Area in Indonesia, along with the Apo Reef Natural Park in the Philippines, and Old Providence McBean Lagoon National Park in Colombia received the prestigious honour at the United Nations Ocean Conference, held on 27 June – 1 July 2022.  

The three new Blue Parks, covering a total area of 13,834 sq. km join a growing network of 24 Blue Parks all over the world, recognized for outstanding conservation effectiveness. With their inclusion, Blue Parks now encompass a total of 1,834,171 sq. km of protected waters in 20 countries.

Raja Ampat is located in the heart of the vast Coral Triangle, and is considered one of the most biodiverse locations in the world, with a staggering variety of marine life. Covering roughly 4.6 million hectares of land and sea, 2 million of which make up the Marine Protected Area, the islands are home to more than 1,600 species of fish, 75% of the world’s known coral species, 6 of the 7 known species of vulnerable to critically endangered sea turtles, and 17 known species of marine mammals.

Raja Ampat’s geographical location, sheer biodiversity, and high sea temperatures all year round have made it a magnet for tourists, particularly diving enthusiasts from all over the world. Divers who explore its waters may encounter a number of interesting species including black manta rays, pygmy seahorses, and mantis shrimps, and garden eels.

The success of Raja Ampat as an MPA is due to a collaborative effort launched in 2004 which brought together the local communities, the regional government, and three NGOs – Conservation International, The Nature Conservancy and World Wildlife Fund in order to protect the region’s biodiversity, address illegal fishing and secure management for its marine ecosystems. Uniquely, this effort integrates traditional practices including Sasi, a local custom which, in the simplest terms, prevents overexploitation of marine resources by placing limits on fishing in order to allow ecosystem recovery and improve sustainability.

The Blue Park Awards have been given by the Marine Conservation Institute to national governments, non-profit organizations, MPA managers, and local communities who have demonstrated exceptional efforts in the protection of marine ecosystems since 2017. The winners are selected based on rigorous science-based standards for conservation effectiveness. According to the Marine Conservation Institute, the goal of the initiative is to celebrate effective MPAs and incentivize governments, managers, communities and leaders to achieve effective conservation.  

Adapted from:

Marine-conservation.org, Conservation.org, National Geographic, Antara News, and Tribun Papua Barat.

Raja Ampat, a Fascinating Marine Paradise in West Papua

The territory within the islands of the Four Kings is enormous, covering 9.8 million acres of land and sea, home to 540 types of corals, more than 1,000 types of coral fish and 700 types of mollusks. This makes it the most diverse living library for world’s coral reef and underwater biota. According to a report developed by The Nature Conservancy and Conservation International, around 75 percent of the world’s species live here. When divers first arrive here their excitement is palpable. It’s common to hear people praise God as they take in the remarkable scenery. Others prefer to remain in silence taking in the overwhelming sight of so many islands with crystal clear water that softly brushes over the white sandy beaches.

Get Around

Commonly, divers will join a tour and live in a diving resort during their stay in the Raja Ampat Islands. To access diving spots, please contact and use the professional diving organizers, who can be conveniently found in Sorong. You may rent a small boat if you wish to stop and make personal discoveries along the line of the beaches. You can also trek around the islands to find hidden beauties, like waterfalls and ancient caves.
Get There

If you are flying from Jakarta, you can take a six hour flight to Sorong with a stopover in Manado. Alternatively, you can join a diving tour in Bali and fly from there. Flying from Jakarta/Bali toSorong, with connecting flights in Makassar or Manado are offered by various airlines. 

There are also daily ferries available between Sorong and Waisai, capital of the Raja Ampat district on the island of Waigeo. The journey takes between 1.5-2 hours. There are also speedboats for rent  at Sorong.

Raja Ampat’s Tourism Infrastructure Development

However, all of this would soon change for the better. With new infrastructure developments in Papua and Raja Ampat in particular, more people would be able to gain access to Raja Ampat. With cheaper costs and better convenience, pricey and challenging travel to Raja Ampat would soon be a thing of history.

With the new developments, beside improving access in Raja Ampat, it can also boost Raja Ampat’s tourism. With better infrastructures, not only will the tourists gain benefit, it would also give benefits to the local people of Papua. More economic boost, and source of income, as well as the direct benefit of better transportation.

So what are these new developments in tourist infrastructure? Lets see!

Marinda Airport

With such a long runway for a local airport (1,600 meters), which is the same as in the big cities of Indonesia, it can accommodate large aircrafts. Marinda Airport will be able to provide direct flight to Raja Ampat. No more long and arduous transits to Raja Ampat. Fly directly to Raja Ampat!

Dominique Edward Osok Airport (Sorong) Renovation

With the renovation of Edward Osok airport, foreign tourists will have better experience during their arrival. This can provide better international access for Raja Ampat. This means better gateway to Papua in general, and Raja Ampat in particular.

Bahari Express Fast Boat

This water transportation provides fast Water transportation from Sorong, as the nearest place of central activities in Papua, to tourist attractions In Raja Ampat. This boat will take you straight from Sorong to Waisai port in Waigeo island, Raja Ampat. Enjoy the water trip with a wonderful scenery along the way.

Waigeo Ring Road

With the distance of 757 km, Waigeo ring road will give way better access to 26 coastal villages in East and West Waigeo. This ring road is expected to give better connectivity between the four Islands of Raja Ampat. Raja Ampat itself means Four Kings, referring to the four islands in Raja Ampat, which are Misool, Salavat, Batanta, Waigeo and Kofiau.

The Waigeo Ring Road route will cover Waisai -Warsambin – Lopintol, Lopintol – Wawiyai, Wawiyai -Kabilol, Waisai – Sapokren – Wawiyai – Waisilip – Saleo – Selpele, Kalitoko – Waifoi – Kopadiri – Kabare, Kabilol – Go – Kopadiri, Kabare – Warmandi – Mnir – Puper – Yenbebaki – Urbinasopen – Yenzner -Mumes, also Yenzner – Kalitoko.

Trans Papua Road

The development of this mega project in Papua and West papua provinces will give better access within these provinces. Moreover, it will make traveling within Papua and West Papua to Raja Ampat easier and faster. With the distance of 4,325 km, Trans Papua road is already 85 percents completed. It will accommodate access and connectivity between central activities in Papua province and West Papua which includes Raja Ampat. These central activities are; Sorong, Timika, and Jayapura in Papua province, and Manokwari, Raja Ampat and Tanah Merah in West Papua province. Trans Papua road will cover two routes in each provinces of Papua and West Papua.

Papua province’s route: Jayapura-Wamena-Mulia, Jayapura-Sarmi, Jayapura-Hamadi-Holtekamp-Perbatasan Papua Nugini, Merauke-Waropko, Timika-Mapurujaya-Pomako, Nabire-Waghete-Enarotali, dan Serui-Menawi-Subeba.

West Papua province’s route: Manowari-Sorong, Manokwari-Bintuni, Fakfak-Hurimber-Bomberay, dan Sorong-Mega.

Tourism Facilities’ Renovation in Painemo Island

For better convenience and better service for tourists in Raja Ampat, currently there are renovations for tourism facilities in Painemo Island. Facilities such as toilets, souvenir shops, local handicraft stalls, and many others are being revamped in this Raja Ampat’s tourist destination. In the future, the renovation will expand to other touristic areas in Raja Ampat.

 

http://papuanews.org