Misool Marine Protected Area (MPA) is the largest and most southerly of the Raja Ampat MPA Network and in the Coral Triangle - the world's center of marine biodiversity. The MPA stretches across 366 000 hectares, and encompasses a cluster of islands composed of ancient limestone, mosaic canals and salt water lakes that are still untouched. Leatherback turtles feed on the sponge inside the MPA and lay eggs on the sandy beaches, while a school of Manta Rays can be found on reef flats. On land, you can find sacred caves and ancient rock art from the local cultural heritage. Misool MPA is also located adjacent to the protected forest area that covers the southern part of Misool island, also known by the name Batanme.
Misool MPA provides food and livelihoods for 5,000 people living in 13 villages scattered throughout the region. Most of the population derive their income from fishing or working at Misool EcoResort or Yellu Mutiara Pearl Farm. But today, the resources that their livelihoods depend on face great threats. Illegal, destructive and unsustainable fishing activities continue to undermine the conservation and enforcement efforts. Because of its remote location, the threat is an ongoing challenge.
Local community initiative has started to make a change in Misool. Ownership of the land and the sea is still strong and many villages have revived the practice of local management "Sasi" (closing areas to fishing for a certain period of time) to regulate important types of fish and invertebrates. The community has also identified 10 No Take Zones within the MPA which they want to keep and actively protect, including important habitats such as coral reefs, mangroves and seagrass beds.