This tip led him on a four-month long diving expedition through various archipelagos, consulting local fishermen along the way.
One place in his journey stands out from the rest. Raja Ampat in West Papua, Indonesia.
Located in the heart of the Coral Triangle, the Raja Ampat Marine Reserve network spans over 4 million hectares and includes about 1,500 islands.
Raja Ampat, believed to have the richest marine biodiversity on earth and a relatively remote location that has made it possible to escape mass tourism, is marketed as the ‘last paradise on earth’. Of course there are many. It is home to over 1,600 species of fish and about 75% of the world’s known coral species.
“There are endless beautiful areas and hundreds of beautiful coral gardens,” says Ammer.
One of the most successful conservation projects on the planet
Raja Ampat, often referred to as ‘the last paradise on earth’, is renowned for its rich marine biodiversity.
Diving Resorts in Papua
Raja Ampat is not always a conservation success story, proving that real change is possible with the right approach.
“It took a lot of work with different stakeholders to turn this around.”
“Since the start of the initiative, fish populations have recovered. Poaching by outside fishermen has decreased by approximately 90%, corals are recovering, and long-term food and livelihood security for communities has improved.” says Irmadhiany.
Encouraging local communities to become active members of conservation efforts is key to its success.
The park employs locals to survey and protect the area. They retain local indigenous knowledge, values, and traditional practices such as “sasi,” which refers to age-old local traditions of isolating areas to allow for ecological restoration. increase.
“We need to start with the community and make sure the solution fits their needs. The goal is to support their voluntary commitment to protect their place. It is sustainable and benefits local people and biodiversity,” says Irmadhiany.
Hosted by Marine Conservation International and endorsed by the United Nations, this annual award recognizes marine parks around the world that meet the highest science-based conservation effectiveness standards.
From shark fin camp to eco-resort
Misool Eco Resort is located in the “Exclusion Zone”. All fishing and hunting activities are prohibited within the 300,000-acre marine reserve.
Her relationship with Raja Ampat started as a love story. While traveling in Bangkok in 2005, she met her fellow diving enthusiast and her future husband Andrew Her Miners.
On their third date, he invited her to go diving in Raja Ampat.
“My first visit to Raja Ampat in 2005 changed my life,” Miners told CNN Travel. Born in Sweden, he studied anthropology before discovering his passion for scuba diving and yoga in Thailand.
“It was something I had never experienced before, both on and in the water.”
The coral reef on Batbitim Island, where Misool is now located, was magnificent, but there was something about the former shark fin fishing camp that irritated the miners.
“We had never seen a single shark live,” says Miners.
Biodiversity had not yet recovered from years of commercial fishing. In 2005, not long after their first visit, the two founded the Misool Foundation and Misool Resorts, the latter a means of financially supporting conservation efforts.
They then reached an agreement with the local community to change the Misool Marine Reserve to a “no fishing zone.” This means that all fishing and hunting activities within the 300,000 acre area will be prohibited. They have hired their own Ranger Patrol to monitor the waters since 2007.
As for the resort itself, sustainability is always at the forefront of operations.
For example, solar panels reduce the use of fossil fuels. Collect rainwater to make drinking water. Organic food is served in the on-site garden. The Foundation’s waste management program includes purchasing trash and marine plastics to sell to recyclers.
Sharks and other marine life have returned to Mysore.
Meanwhile, sea creatures are returning to places that were once “dead, finned sharks left in the shallows”, and a richer underwater life is becoming more attractive to divers.
“Since 2007, fish biomass (in Misore) has increased by an average of 250% and shark populations have recovered. It’s also essential for the locals who depend on it for their livelihood,” Miners says.
She says community engagement is critical to Raja Ampat’s continued success, as a well-protected marine environment requires collaboration and long-term commitment.
“As ecosystems recover, their richness becomes increasingly attractive to those seeking to take advantage of them. Threats evolve and diversify over time… It is unrealistic and dangerous to assume that
This is why we need dedication from communities, local governments, scientists, business owners, nonprofits, schools, funders, and influential local and international supporters, she adds.
“This holistic approach maximizes your chances of success. It takes a lot of the spirit and energy that you find here in Raja Ampat,” says Miners.
Raja Ampat’s Kulhi Cape and other must-sees
Ammer has also observed positive changes at his two Papua diving resorts.
“When we started, there was a lot of toxic activity going on all over Raja Ampat: bomb fishing, potassium cyanide fishing, shark fishing, logging,” Ammer said.
“All of that has been slowly eradicated. In our case, mostly by creating other options for making a living. ), they no longer need to be involved in harm.”
Two of Papua Diving’s locations are built in already dilapidated areas. Both are former coconut plantations, meaning that the original forests have not been destroyed.
They are mostly made from local materials, but the inclusion of stainless steel extends the life of the wood. The roof is made of traditional thatched palm leaves harvested and purchased by the local community.
They designed a more fuel-efficient catamaran built by locals. A new catamaran currently in development will be fully electric and autonomous once it hits the water.
Papua Diving’s two resorts have a conservation center and a diving center, and about 90% of the staff are locals.
When asked about his favorite places to dive in Raja Ampat, Amar said the list is almost endless.
“I still often get surprised when I look around while diving.
In addition to Cape Chestnut, a house reef famous for Papuan diving, Sardine Reef is said to have “so many fish that it can block the sun”.
Raja Ampat also has a lot to offer on the water.
“The water is littered with small mushroom-shaped outcrops and covered with pitcher plants and wild orchids,” says a Misool miner.
“Coconut crabs, the largest terrestrial arthropods, can be found trotting in the undergrowth, and rare birds such as sulfur-crested cockatoos, Bryce hornbills and Brahmin kites are common sights. , serves as a nursery for juveniles and as a nursery for juveniles, a refuge for flying foxes and fruit bat roosts.
“On land, there are hikes with spectacular views of iconic karst islands and blue lagoons.”
“Learn from us”
The Papua Diving founder says the alternative to employment has helped eradicate once-harmful fishing practices.
Luis Cabez, a local dive guide for Papua Diving, told CNN Travel that in order to have the best experience in Raja Ampat, travelers should “visit local villages and share time at local schools.” says that there is
“Tell us about your country. Learn from us. Come eat with us,” says Kaves from Savandarek village on Batanta, one of Raja Ampat’s main islands.
He says he is proud that Raja Ampat is now a famous place and proud to be a diving guide.
Having spent 30 years in Raja Ampat and visited over 400 WWII aircraft sites, Ammer agrees that the biggest attraction is the people.
“Interact with people, anywhere,” adds Ammer.