West Manggarai and Komodo Manta Sanctuary

The District Government of West Manggarai and Komodo in eastern Indonesia has invited MantaWatch to assist in evaluating and developing a proposed 705,200 hectare manta ray sanctuary.

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West Manggarai and Komodo continually ranks as one of the top destinations in the world for manta watching, with over 1,000 manta encounter photos submitted by citizen scientists to MantaTrax, our online manta database. Endowed with two iconic and charismatic natural assets–the Komodo dragon and the manta ray–West Manggarai attracts more than 50,000 nature-loving tourists every year, and marine tourism contributes a significant proportion of the local economy.

The West Manggarai District Government has invited MantaWatch to provide technical support on a proposal to establish a 705,200 hectare manta ray sanctuary encompassing the district’s entire marine and coastal waters. In the capable hands of Elitza Germanov, our West Manggarai and Komodo Regional Coordinator, MantaWatch is working with the West Manggarai Marine and Fisheries Agency to assess the status of manta populations, establish monitoring for threatened species at fishing harbors, develop outreach and education campaigns, and develop a legal framework for the sustainable management of West Manggarai’s manta rays and other threatened marine species.

The Governor of West Manggarai has requested MantaWatch to evaluate whether the proposed manta ray sanctuary will support the government’s vision of “pro-poor, pro-job, and pro-environment” marine sector development, and attract environmentally and sustainability conscious marine tourists to his district.

Providing a fantastic example of how the private and public sectors can work together to maximize sustainable economic development, West Manggarai and Komodo’s marine tourism operators are helping the District Government to answer this question by sharing our survey with their clients. Survey responses will provide critical data to help the District Government evaluate the proposed West Manggarai and Komodo manta sanctuary.