1. Lease Islands MPA Recovering from Coral Bleaching, Survey Reveals
A recent biophysical survey of Maluku’s Lease Islands Marine Protected Area (MPA) indicates significant reduction in coral bleaching compared to a similar survey done in March that showed a considerably greater number of bleached coral colonies in several locations within the MPA. Conducted on 13-15 October by USAID SEA through implementing partner Coral Triangle Center (CTC) and with support from the Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies, the survey was designed to observe trends in changes in resource conditions in the MPA, including coral cover, fish abundance, and fish biomass.
It covered three sites around Nusa Laut Island, two sites at Saparua Island, another two sites at Molana Island, and one site at Haruku Island. The survey data have yet to be fully analyzed, but early findings show that, in addition to having lower coral bleaching prevalence, most sites showed predominance of target fishery species, including snapper, parrotfish and surgeonfish, which all play important roles in building coral reef resilience. Such relative species abundance suggests that the newly formed MPA may have already mitigated fishing pressure on the islands’ coral reefs and harvested fish stocks.