Creación de una economía azul

Un grupo de tiburones de arrecife de puntas negras se desplaza en círculos sobre un jardín de coral poco profundo en la Reserva Marina de Misool en Raja Ampat, Papúa Occidental, Indonesia.

For the founders of three of Indonesia’s dive resorts, the mission was clear: Protect the region’s natural resources by providing economic, educational and environmental benefits while empowering residents to participate in the process. These visionaries blazed a path for a “blue economy” — ensuring sustainable use of ocean resources while promoting economic growth and improved livelihoods for the people who live there.


Soluciones sustentables

Conservaciónsustentabilidad y comunidad are three words that Lembeh Resort has always been passionate about,” said Danny Charlton, co-founder of the resort’s on-site dive center, Critters at Lembeh Resort.

From the beginning, founder Alex Rorimpandey provided training and employment for people living in nearby villages on Lembeh Island. “We encourage villagers to cherish the natural environment, both above and below the sea, as well as their traditional cultures,” Charlton said, adding that the resort staff also have the opportunity to get certified as divers. “We hope it will cultivate a greater appreciation for our unique and precious underwater ecosystems.”

Haciendo historia

Hace veinte años, Rorimpandey, un nativo de Tondano, Célebes Septentrional, construyó una cabaña con vista al estrecho de Lembeh. Tenía pensado construir una casa de vacaciones para su familia, pero para diciembre de 2002 la propiedad ya incluía tres cabañas para huéspedes. Critters at Lembeh Resort comenzó a llevar a huéspedes a realizar buceos en el estrecho.

Rorimpandey también donó materiales para construir la iglesia local del pueblo vecino Pintu Kota Kecil, lo que sentó las bases de un vínculo sólido entre el centro turístico y las personas de la isla de Lembeh.

Un legado perdurable

Rorimpandey murió en julio de 2003, pero su esposa e hijos conservaron la propiedad del centro turístico y hoy en día mantienen una participación activa en su administración. Las operaciones de buceo están administradas por Charlton y su esposa, Angelique, que es originaria de Célebes Septentrional y es la hija del fallecido Dr. Hanny Batuna y su esposa, Ineke, fundadores de Murex Dive Resorts.

“Murex Resort Manado, Murex Bangka and Lembeh Resort have cooperated for almost 18 years, and our staff is like family,” Charlton said. “Many of our staff have been with the company for years — decades in some cases.”

Lembeh Resort provides electrical power for the church and Sunday school, which is at the heart of the community on the island. It also hosts barbecue parties for its guests, during which children from the Sunday school provide musical performances. “Guests can buy a recording from the choir, and proceeds go to the Lembeh Foundation,” Charlton said.

Lembeh Resort guests contribute in other significant ways by bringing school supplies, such as crayons, paper, colored pens, pencils, English dictionaries and books, and sports accessories. “School uniforms are mandatory in Indonesia, and a complete set costs US$55 on average,” Charlton said. “This expense is quite difficult for some families to afford, so we accept donations to help them.”

What’s Next

The nearest village, Pintu Kota Kecil, is populated with small-scale fishers, subsistence farmers and employees of local dive resorts. “Through the Lembeh Foundation, we have constructed a trash bank that people can use to generate income,” Charlton said, “and we are building a learning center with a green library, which we are hoping to complete soon.”

Despite the pandemic, the resort has remained open. “We remain committed to continuing to employ and assist as many people as possible,” Charlton said.

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Una poderosa alianza

In many ways the founding of Misool Resort is a love story. Soon after meeting, co-founders Andrew and Marit Miners went on a very special third date — a scuba diving trip to Raja Ampat. While there, they explored the remote island of Batbitim and discovered a recently abandoned shark-finning camp. Shocked, they vowed to protect this place with which they had fallen in love. 

Haciendo historia

Construir un centro turístico no estaba en sus planes iniciales. En 2005, Andrew se comunicó con los clanes locales y les pidió permiso para crear una zona de protección total y un centro de conservación. La pareja obtuvo la bendición de los líderes de las tribus locales y arrendó un área que ha crecido e incluye nueve grandes islas deshabitadas y los derechos del paisaje marino circundante de 1.191 km2 (460 millas cuadradas). Al darse cuenta de que un centro turístico en una isla privada podía financiar el trabajo de conservación que querían llevar a cabo desesperadamente, la pareja persuadió a los inversores para que compartieran su visión.

Before construction work could begin, however, details of the lease agreement had to be hammered out, said Jo Marlow, marketing and communications manager of Misool Resort. “The boundaries of the leased area came from a series of town hall meetings. The agreement included that the no-take zone should be far enough away from the villages so that their traditional fishing grounds were still available but close enough that artisanal fishers would benefit from the spillover effect of resurging fish populations. The parties agreed on an area that had historically been fished illegally by outside fishermen, including shark-finners.”

On paper it looked good, “but the community lacked the resources and infrastructure to intercept the poachers who were decimating their natural heritage,” Marlow said. A locally staffed ranger patrol was created, and “today the Misool Marine Reserve is a bright beacon of hope.”

Un legado perdurable

In 2019 Misool Resort donated $358,950 to the Misool Foundation, which is enough to operate the ranger patrol. The resort also donates $100 on behalf of every guest and encourages visitors to match the donation. Together the two organizations employ more than 169 staff, 95 percent of whom are Indonesian. “We estimate that these salaries support 650 people from the local community,” Marlow said. “We provide English lessons and job training. We also offer open-water dive training to interested staff from all departments.”

With support from Seacology, the Misool Foundation built a kindergarten in 2011. “Our commitment to education extends to the villages of Yellu and Djabatan,” Marlow said. “We employ seven local teachers, pay their monthly salaries and provide material support to four local schools.”

What’s Next

El centro turístico está comprometido a reducir su huella de carbono y actualmente obtiene un 60 por ciento de su energía de fuentes renovables. También gestiona un jardín hidropónico, que se espera produzca cerca de dos toneladas de vegetales orgánicos en 2021.

“The resort’s mission to protect the world’s richest reefs is meaningless if we do not take immediate and decisive action to reduce our carbon dioxide emissions and their resultant effects on climate change,” Marlow explained. “Our goal is to become carbon neutral by 2025.”

The resort would also like to increase its educational support of local children. “It’s often hard to find teachers who are willing to commit to long-term placements in these remote locations,” Marlow said. “Our education program is a long-term investment in the future of Raja Ampat. We hope that increased access to education will better equip the next generation to take on leadership roles that preserve their natural and cultural heritage.”

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Colaboración comunitaria

“Wakatobi Resort is surrounded by some of the most pristine and best-protected reef systems in the world,” said Karen Stearns, director of marketing and media relations for the resort. “In addition to preserving the region’s high biodiversity, the resort’s groundbreaking collaborative conservation program has become a model for sustainable ecotourism.”

Wakatobi a menudo recluta y entrena a divemasters del poblado local.
Wakatobi a menudo recluta y entrena a divemasters del poblado local.

Haciendo historia

Before founder Lorenz Mäder opened the southeastern Sulawesi resort in 1995, he met with local fishers and village elders from surrounding communities and offered a unique proposal. In exchange for agreeing to honor a no-take zone on nearly 4 miles of reef, the residents of 17 area villages would receive direct lease payments from Wakatobi. Since then, the initial no-take zone has expanded to cover more than 12 miles of reef and is now one of the world’s largest privately funded marine protected areas.

“These zones replenish fish populations by serving as safe breeding grounds, which in turn boosts sustainable harvests in areas outside the reserve,” Stearns said. “The same fishermen who were initially skeptical of the program are now some of its most vigilant enforcers.”

Un legado perdurable

Wakatobi Resort ha colocado boyas de amarre en todos sus puntos de buceo y ha proporcionado boyas adicionales en puertos cercanos para proteger más áreas del lecho marino. El centro turístico también suministra agua potable y electricidad a un poblado cercano, organiza seminarios de concientización comunitaria y compra y distribuye material escolar a escuelas del área.

The resort employs more than 100 people from the surrounding villages, and local people hold about 90 percent of the jobs at the resort. “These jobs include hospitality workers, chefs, maintenance and groundskeepers, and boat captains, crews and divemasters who have earned their credentials through our training programs,” Stearns said.

Wakatobi patrocina limpiezas de poblados semanales que involucran a hasta 100 habitantes locales y trabaja estrechamente con comunidades y gobiernos locales en lo que se refiere a cuestiones de gestión de residuos. El centro turístico proporciona contenedores para residuos, organiza vehículos de recolección de residuos y patrocina el almacenamiento de residuos adicionales para la isla adyacente de Tomia; también financia a un equipo de 20 líderes e individuos muy respetados para ayudar a promover prácticas sustentables. Estos individuos utilizan su condición social para aumentar la conciencia entre el público respecto a la conservación de los arrecifes y la gestión de residuos.

What’s Next

Wakatobi’s legacy to the community is sustainable fisheries and economic prosperity. “The resort has continued its monthly compensation payments to local villages, even during the pandemic when we’ve had no guests,” Stearns said. “Those who visit here can witness how positive change can be economically beneficial as well and share our founder’s vision of creating benefit for all parties. Tourists learn to appreciate a living reef and understand what has been lost in other places. They contribute by visiting and spreading the word to others. Seeing the difference they make motivates others to actively protect reefs around the globe.”

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Bilikiki works closely with the villages along their cruise itinerary to buy local produce to help sustain their economies.
Bilikiki trabaja estrechamente con los lugareños a lo largo de su itinerario de cruceros para comprar productos locales y así ayudar a sostener sus economías.


Los centros turísticos con sede en tierra no son las únicas entidades que trabajan con los lugareños para proporcionar incentivos económicos con el objeto de proteger los recursos locales. La embarcación de vida a bordo Bilikiki liveaboard has been operating since 1998 in another Coral Triangle hot spot, the Solomon Islands. Traditionally, the local tribe owns all land and adjoining reefs and the tribe’s chief controls them. Since the beginning, the company that owns Bilikiki ha pagado para bucear en los arrecifes que visita. Esos pagos han impulsado a los jefes de las tribus locales a proteger sus arrecifes.

Bilikiki partners with the Loloma Foundation to provide dental and vision care to local Solomon Islanders.
Bilikiki colabora con Loloma Foundation para proporcionar atención dental y oftalmológica a los lugareños de las Islas Salomón.

El Bilikiki incluye una visita a la laguna de Marovo, donde los habitantes locales producen exquisitas esculturas en madera que los huéspedes pueden comprar. Desde su primer crucero, la empresa ha entregado semillas y luego pagado por los productos cultivados por los pobladores locales, quienes entregan frutas y vegetales frescos a Bilikiki mediante el uso de canoas tradicionales.

“There are remote areas where people rely mostly on growing crops and catching fish, so to be able to introduce some small form of mutually beneficial economy is helpful to everyone,” said Sam Leeson, managing director of Bilikiki Cruises. “It makes the local people as happy to have us around as we are to be there.”

Una mano amiga

The three resorts accept donations to fund their conservation work and community initiatives. Here’s how to help:

Explore más

The Misool Foundation, the Lembeh Foundation, the Wakatobi Collaborative Reef Conservation Program and the Bilikiki liveaboard help conservation efforts and support people from their local communities.

© Alert Diver — Q2 2021

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