Raja Ampat Regency has been one of the expansion districts of Sorong Regency in West Papua Province since 2002. It has been popular with natural attractions, and coastal conservation is another fascinating piece of information to follow. Take a look at the coastal conservation profile in Raja Ampat, West Papua, in the following elaboration.
The Home of Sea Beauties
Raja Ampat is the home to 69.21% of the world’s coral species. About 553 coral species (Veron et al., 2009) have been found, and two of them are endemic to Raja Ampat from the Acroporidae family, namely Montipora delacatula and Montipora verruculosus (DeVantier et al., 2009). In addition, there were at least 41 species from 90 genera of Alcyonacean soft corals from 14 families (Donnelly et al., 2002).
In this area, there have also been found 699 species of mollusks. You will be amazed that this spot is the home to 5 species of sea turtles (McKenna et al., 2002), at least 1,505 species of reef fish (Allen and Erdmann, 2012; updated on Erdmann, 2013), and 15 species of marine mammals consisting of 14 species of cetaceans (13 species of whales and dolphins) and one species of dugong (Dugong dugon) (Kahn, 2007).
What makes the conservation area of Raja Ampat is such extraordinary is the high diversity of habitats ranging from seagrasses, mangroves, and coral reefs in shallow waters (including fringing reefs, barrier reefs, patches, and atolls) to deep fissures between major small islands. With such a high level of biodiversity, scientists call the Raja Ampat Islands the heart of the World Coral Triangle.
The Fishery Sector
In 2006, the fishery sector took 50% of gross domestic product into account and 82% of regional income for Raja Ampat, West Papua. The main fishing commodities from the district are tuna, mackerel, grouper, napoleon, red snapper, sea cucumber, shrimp, and lobster.
In the fishery sector of Raja Ampat, West Papua, the cultivation of pearl oysters (Pinctada maxima), grouper, and seaweed has been grown. In fact, in 2012, seven large pearl cultivation companies were operating here, representing the largest employment sector in the district. Pearls depend on clean water conditions with a low sedimentation rate, so pearl cultivation is the most suitable economic activity of all green economic sectors in the Small Islands Region of Raja Ampat.
Most people of Raja Ampat depend on fishing activities, and the government has prioritized fisheries as the main sector of economic activity in this area. It is important to know that the fisheries resources in Raja Ampat have experienced a drastic decline where the Catch Per Unit Effort (CPUE) of some fishery activities have been decreasing by up to 90% in the last 40 years (Ainsworth et al., 2008). The decline is mostly caused by illegal and unregistered fishing activities carried out by outside fishermen.
The Tourism Sector
Besides fishery, if you’re asking one of the sectors contributing to Raja Ampat, West Papua, the tourism sector comes on the surface. In 2011, this sector contributed 82% of the regional revenue for the Raja Ampat district. The uniqueness and beauty of the natural panorama adorned with the high diversity of fisheries and marine resources, especially the coral reef ecosystem, is a special attraction for foreign tourists.
In fact, many of the world’s marine biota experts come to the area and conduct research there. The main marine tourism potential in the Small Island Region of Raja Ampat is natural panorama tourism, such as white sand, caves, coral shoals, and diving tours.
Some areas involved in the tourism development are the islands of Kofiau, Misool, South and West Waigeo, and the Ayau Islands. Marine tourism such as snorkeling and diving has been growing at their best so far, and Raja Ampat is currently one of the most popular dive spots in the world (Jones et al., 2011).
Most importantly, the hype in diving tourism has positively impacted the tourism sector in general, with increased tourist interest in kayaking, bird watching, and cultural tourism.
See? It is amazing to know more about the coastal conservation profile in Raja Ampat, West Papua.