Kolepom island, off the coast of Papua, is an area that is abundant with pristine mangrove cover and river mouths that bring rich nutrient deposits. These conditions make the coast of Kolepom island a thriving nursery ground for fish and shrimp in the area, and a productive fisheries resource that attracts many fishermen there. With the rising demand and need of sustainable economic growth and conservation of resources in Indonesia, establishing a Marine Protected Area (MPA) would help protect, conserve and harness these resources for the future of Papuan waters and the Arafura Seas. In line with this demand is Indonesia’s Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries (MMAF) target of establishing a total of 30 million hectares of MPA by the year 2030.

Mangrove area in Kolepom island
Credit: ATSEA-2

Within ATSEA-2’s scope of work, activities on the site of Merauke district include the development and the accompanying of operations in the new MPA in Kolepom, Merauke. Part of this effort is to enhance capacity building of the supervising team and local communities in managing the newly established MPA.

On 26th September 2019, the governor of Papua, Lukas Enembe, signed a government decree No.188.4/295/2019 to instate Kolepom island as an MPA, which would officially be established exactly one year later on 26th September 2020. Stated in this official document is the zonation map of the MPA covering 353,286 Ha, the national laws under which the MPA is applied, and the collaboration to be established between local governing authorities with those in the MMAF.

Zonation of Kolepom MPA
Credit: MMAF Indonesia

Thanks to the official signing of this document and establishment of an MPA in Kolepom, species that are under threat of overexploitation and extinction such as target white snapper, shrimp, pelagic fish and sawfish would be subject to protection within the existing zones. Local livelihoods which depend on fishing activities in the area would also be safeguarded and geared towards using sustainable fishing practices to ensure the health of the marine and coastal environment.

For ATSEA-2, the signing and official establishment of the MPA in Kolepom, means that the project can continue to develop capacity building programs to the local communities and practitioners in the region by facilitating habitat and ecosystem assessment and assisting Papua’s provincial government to establish a Working Group (POKJA), as well as development and effective management of the MPA in reference to the PermenKP No.31/PERMEN-KP/2020 for Conservation Area Management. These efforts will also further contribute to the sustainable development of marine and coastal ecosystems and livelihoods in the Arafura Seas.