Hiding outA wobbegong finds shelter under a table coral.
In May 2010, Scuba Diving shared the story of Daram (“Saving Daram,” May 2010), a group of islands in the Misool region of Raja Ampat, Indonesia. After two-and-a-half years of work, Misool Eco Resort and WildAid announced in November 2010 the creation of a 468-square-mile Marine Conservation Area in Raja Ampat, nearly tripling MER’s 164-square-mile No-Take Zone, established in 2005.
Thanks to MER, WildAid and the outpouring of support from the dive community (including those who read the story and acted), all of Daram is now protected. The local community support for the expansion of the MCA is a direct result of the success of MER’s original No-Take Zone. An expanded, locally staffed Ranger Patrol now enforces the area, and dive tourism will be critical to its sustainability.
Building on this conservation achievement, MER and Shark Savers also announced that a Shark Sanctuary has been declared for the entire 17,760 square miles of Raja Ampat, providing full protection for sharks, manta rays, mobulas, dugongs and turtles, and prohibiting destructive practices, including bombing and the aquarium-fish trade. The first of its kind in Indonesia, the sanctuary is an accomplishment achieved by a campaign supported by more than 8,500 divers and conservationists, hundreds of tourism and diving companies, and NGOs from around the world.
The expanded MCA secures the future of low-impact underwater eco-tourism, which directly benefits Raja Ampat’s people while safeguarding its spectacular natural resources. And it all goes to show that, yes, you can make a difference.