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June 2012    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 27, No. 6   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Protected Marine Reserves Are Not So Safe

from the June, 2012 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

We're referring particularly to remote areas lacking enough funding for full-time monitoring. The Washington Post reported last month that authorities in Indonesian Papua caught 33 poachers at Kawe Marine Protected Area, Southeast Asia's largest no-take reserve, who had taken sharks, manta rays and sea cucumbers worth more than $160,000. But after confiscating the illegal catch and gear, the nine patrol officers had to let the poachers go because they lacked the manpower to take over the boats.

Conservation International provides $200,000 a year to fund patrols in the area, but this incident underscores one of the bigger challenges in protecting the ocean: Setting aside swaths of the sea from fishing only works when there's adequate enforcement. The Indonesian navy announced plans soon after to boost its presence throughout the protected area, but now that fishing stocks are on the rebound due to hands-off efforts by local fishermen, the reserve attracts fishing vessels from outside the region. "This is the only fish stock in the eastern part of Indonesia that's still healthy," says Ketut Sarjana Putra, executive director of Conservation International in Indonesia. "The only problem we see here is the outsiders."

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