The Banda Islands in Maluku Tengah District, located in a remote oceanic archipelago situated in the Banda Sea, Eastern Indonesia. The islands comprise of 11 small islands and one atoll, of which only seven islands are inhabited. The Government of Maluku Province issued a governor’s decree in 2016 on the initiation of Ay and Rhun Islands Marine Protected Area (MPA) with a size of 47,968.74 hectares. To further continue the establishment process of Ay and Rhun Islands MPA, there are required steps need to be completed that include the serial collecting biophysics and socioeconomics data on target islands of the MPA.
From November 2–10, 2019, the Coral Triangle Center (CTC), a USAID Sustainable Ecosystem Advanced (SEA) Project implementing partner, conducted the Socioeconomics and Perception Monitoring Survey in 4 villages, namely the Ay and Rhun Village as the main targets and the Kampung Baru and Selamon Village as the control villages. The survey targeted 30 household respondents in each village to gain information regarding socio-economic data, including demography, fisheries, marine tourism and traditional wisdom on coastal and marine resources management. The survey preliminary results indicated that most of the community members have positive thoughts on marine conservation and agreeing on the establishment of Ay and Rhun MPA design and management plan.
While at the same time the biophysical assessments were conducted in 23 coral reef sites in the Banda Islands. The biophysical assessments included coral substrate, fish abundance and diversity and seabirds among other parameters. Fish target species (e.g. groupers, snappers and giant trevally) were in abundance and of good size. The team also recorded six new fish species not observed in 2012 and recorded a very high fish diversity overall. The reef contains 54 coral genera which is high by Indonesian standards and the findings indicate that the coral reef cover and fish abundance in the Banda Islands are generally in healthy condition. Three seabirds (Great Frigate bird, Red-footed Booby, and Brown Booby) were observed roosting in Manukang Island. Based on the coral reef and fish classification survey, similar characteristics were identified among many islands in Banda providing data that is essential reference for designing a network of MPAs in Banda Islands and as a baseline for reef health in the future.