CORAL’s initial work in Raja Ampat involved the launch of an interconnected network of marine protected areas (MPAs) across 5 million hectares of species-rich coral reefs and island systems. A user fee system developed by CORAL and Conservation International is generating revenue for marine area management. To support sustainable tourism, CORAL created a Raja Ampat "yellow pages" designed to bring up-to-date information to marine recreation providers about the user fee, ports-of-call, lines of communication, and more. In 2007, CORAL trained more than 100 individuals in Sustainable Marine Recreation and reached more than 80 percent of the marine recreation providers in the region with information, training, and resources.
CORAL began working with our partner the Misool Eco Resort  (MER) in 2007 to improve the management of the marine protected area that the MER established around its private island in Raja Ampat. This area has become a full Coral Reef Sustainable Destination (CRSD ) site, and MER and CORAL are committed to working with surrounding communities to ensure that conservation is both effective and beneficial for local people. CORAL is also beginning to work on projects and establish relationships in other regions of Indonesia—there is great potential for the development of further CRSD sites in this country.
CORAL and its partners have been working to increase Raja Ampat’s economic opportunities while at the same time saving its reefs. The user fee system, which consists of a fee that visitors pay to enjoy entry to a marine protected area, collects revenue for the park through the sale of visitor tags. Raja Ampat community members had attempted to introduce a user fee system in the past; however, some community members didn’t receive their share of the revenue and consensus among dive operators and other involved parties was difficult to achieve. In addition, the creators of the previous user fee system didn’t follow legal protocols for putting the fee requirements into Indonesian law.
To make the new user fee system work, CORAL had to completely restructure the system and gain consensus from all stakeholders. In March and April of 2007, CORAL held trainings for the tourism board and dive operators and reached out to local community members to create a fresh vision for the user fee. The new system was structured to include a Bupati (governor)-appointed committee comprising all stakeholders, including representatives from the local community, the tourism bureau, the Bupati office, fisheries, dive operators, traditional religious leaders, and local nonprofit organizations. In August of 2007, the Raja Ampat Regency Government officially changed the amount of money collected from visitors to the marine parks as well as the way in which the fees would directly benefit the resources and the people of Raja Ampat.
In response to an urgent need for funding to finish this important work, CORAL reached out to its membership with a targeted appeal. We are deeply grateful for the generous support of our members, who played an important and direct role in protecting these pristine reefs.