Nusa Penida: A Blue Solution to learn from

16 April 2014 | Article

In the western corner of the Coral Triangle biodiversity hotspot, off the coast of Bali, Indonesia, lie the ‘Three Sisters’ – the islands trio Nusa Penida, and smaller Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan. The people of the Three Sisters and coastal fishers from Bali derive their livelihoods from the rich surrounding seas, through fisheries, seaweed farming, aquaculture, and dive tourism. Nusa Penida’s waters support a rich marine life, such as the peculiar Ocean Sunfish (Mola mola).

The Coral Triangle Center (CTC) has been closely involved in the establishment and management of a locally-managed marine protected area (MPA) in Nusa Penida. Acknowledging that the site’s collaborative governance model, which aligns benefits for all stakeholders with marine biodiversity conservation, is an example for the whole region and beyond, CTC has developed Nusa Penida into a learning site.

Nusa Penida has been selected as an MPA case study under the Blue Solutions project partnership, which aims to collate and share successful approaches in marine and coastal conservation and development, to encourage their replication and scaling up. “Blue Solutions” are thought to be comprised of distinct transferable and adaptable “building blocks” that determine their success. Nusa Penida’s “building blocks” are:

  1. Biophysic and socio-economic baseline data collection, resulting in
  2. Consultative development of zoning and long-term management plan, based on local customs and scientific data, and taking into account all stakeholder interests, following over 30 consultation meetings with community groups, district and provincial government and private dive operators.
  3. Collaborative management, involving all stakeholder groups, and including partnerships with local enterprise. A Management Body has been established as a collaboration between the local government and the community, ensuring transparency and accountability. Joint patrolling teams ensure effective enforcement.
  4. Ecological restoration efforts include mangrove and coral replanting to enhance climate change resilience by protecting the island from rising sea level and heavy storms.  
  5. Development of marine eco-tourism activities, such as mangrove tours and the “Adopt the Coral” program, which are managed by and benefit the community. The active support of dive tour operators helps avoid adverse impacts of the more than 200,000 visitors per year.
  6. A sustainable financing mechanism through marine tourism entrance fee is currently being developed, following a survey on the marine tourism profile and a “Willingness to pay” study.
  7. Sharing experiences to support other sites: Nusa Penida is being developed into a learning site, providing an excellent platform for training courses and field trips to share lessons with MPA managers, practitioners, government officials, communities and private sector representatives from elsewhere, who are involved in MPA development.

I Nyoman Dharma, Nusa Penida MPA Task-Force Secretary, explains how the learning site model can advance protected area conservation beyond Nusa Penida’s boundaries :

“ Every year, about 30 groups and more than hundred individuals from various organisations and countries come to Nusa Penida to learn about successes and challenges in MPA establishment and marine conservation action, enabling them to improve MPA development and management in their place, as vise versa Nusa Penida MPA also reveives inputs for better management. Thus the learning site approach is strengthening marine conservation at a local, national and regional level.”

The establishment and collaborative governance of Nusa Penida MPA has shown immediate positive effects on the recovery of fish stocks and reef health while ensuring high acceptance of the site by the community. Illegal fishing practices, such as cyanide and blast-fishing, have been virtually eliminated.

Marthen Welly, CTC’s MPA Learning Site Manager, says: “After five years of effort, Nusa Penida has now finally officially been recognized by the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries (MMAF), providing it with a strong legal basis at the local and national level. We will build on this success and start to implement an entrance fee system for marine tourism this year to ensure sustainable financing for managing the site. Although Nusa Penida is already fully functioning as a learning site, we hope that by the end of 2014, the site will be formally acknowledged and launched as a learning platform for the whole Coral Triangle region.”

Blue Solutions will organize a national MPA Governance training workshop in Bali in September 2014, hosted by IUCN in collaboration with MMAF and CTC. A field trip to Nusa Penida will allow workshop participants to experience first-hand a successful local MPA governance model. IUCN will continue to partner with CTC and share learning and experiences from Nusa Penida through various communication channels being developed through the Blue Solutions partnership, promoting them for replication in other parts of the Coral Triangle and beyond.

For further information, contact Marthen Welly: mwelly@coraltrianglecenter.org