Located at the heart of the Coral Triangle, the Alor Marine Protected Area (MPA) covers an area of 277,072 hectares in the Alor region of East Nusa Tenggara Province, Indonesia. The Alor MPA has high biodiversity seascapes consisting of a variety of pelagic and demersal fish species connected to pristine coral reef ecosystems, as well as healthy mangrove forests and seagrass beds. In addition, Alor MPA is also a habitat and migration route for cetaceans and charismatic marine megafauna such as whale sharks, manta rays, dugongs, dolphins, whales and sea turtles.
The WWF Indonesia and CRRI team consisted of marine biologists including small and large fish and benthic experts and data and IT professionals from Palo IT working in metrics and evaluation.
The first days of the expedition involved training by The Branch Office of Marine and Fisheries Agency as Alor MPA Management Authority and were attended by Water Police, the Navy, and local academics from Tribuana University. The training covered reef health monitoring, seagrass, mangrove, and marine species, Mermaid (Marine Ecological Research Management Aid) data system, as well as ReefCloud.
The monitoring and surveying part of the expedition brought many interesting opportunities – it was the first time that AI technology through ReefCloud was used in monitoring and the team saw the benefits in capturing the data through digital means using the photo ID method allowing a more accurate survey in comparison to previous monitoring exercises.
The richness of marine resources in Alor MPA is one of the important things in supporting the lives of coastal communities in Alor Regency. The ecological and oceanographic factors in these waters also provide resources for the fisheries sector, aquaculture, and the development of other economic sectors of coastal communities.
Unfortunately, the park and its rich marine biodiversity is under threat from illegal and destructive fishing and other pressures related to unsustainable coastal development. In an increasingly uncertain living environment, communities face difficult choices between exploiting their natural environment for short-term personal needs and protecting it for long-term, broader societal needs.The CRRI’s goal is to give reefs like the Alor MPA the opportunity to reduce the strain from exploitation and development, while also empowering coastal communities to manage them sustainably.