Max Ammer, the director of the Raja Ampat Research and Conservation Centre (RARCC), showed the local authorities of Raja Ampat the harmful effects on the reefs due to the lack of moorings in Raja Ampat in an original way during the Workshop on Sustainable Tourism in the Raja Ampat, organized by the Raja Ampat regency in Waisai last Wednesday.
Untouched “Reef of Glass”
With 100 glasses of different colours and shapes, he intended to represent the beauty of the coral reefs, which take hundreds of years to grow. Then, he caused significant damage to the glasses with an anchor and its chain draped across the ‘reef of glasses.’ The regent of Raja Ampat, Abdul Faris Umlati, “really understood the matter now,” Max Ammer said, adding: “He thanked me very clearly and he said he really got it. That is very important because this is a big problem that has been neglected for many years.”
Anchor&anchor chain damage to the “Reef of Glass”
In the workshop, many entities, from the local government to NGOs, including the Conservation International, showed their vision for the future of the sustainable tourism in the Raja Ampat territory.
The RARCC was there helping the Raja Ampat Resorts Association in their presentation focused on conservation matters. According to the head of the RARCC, it seems that the concerns of the different organizations were “well received” because the local government officials “are open to positive criticism.” In two weeks, the regency will organize a workshop to discuss some of the concerns and to “exchange thoughts and knowledge,” he added. “I feel positive that it will change the current policies to the better. They will understand some threats which they haven’t realized yet and I’m pretty sure that when we work together, there will be positive changes originated from that,” Max Ammer mentioned.
During the workshop, the regent of Raja Ampat spoke about his plans to release electricity by placing PV panels or by ways of energy derived from the sea to all the villages in Raja Ampat within the next three years. He asked all the workshop participants to help to attract more people to the Marinda Airport at Waisai, and he talked about his plans to start tour packages in Manado and Raja Ampat. The politician wants to open an airfield in Misool, the southernmost one of Raja Ampat’s four main islands as well.
From Max Ammer’s perspective, the regent has “good ideas” and the “best intentions” and “he definitely wants to help the local people”, but “it will be helpful if there is more communication.”
“I think he will also consider education one of the aspects, and I hope we can convince him about the importance of conservation,” he added.
The Dutch entrepreneur, who is also co-founder of the company P.T. Papua Diving Resorts, one of the RARCC’s partners, hopes to contribute to clear up some misconceptions, since he has been in Raja Ampat for over 25 years.
For instance, he has a different opinion about one of the ideas discussed during the meeting that defends that a person should make as little as possible of investment to make as much as possible of profit. “You need to make the investment needed whatever the price is, to be able to operate in a constructive way and in an environmental good way (…) Actually, it will pay itself back because you will have a good environment and that is what you want/need. That is actually essential for survival,” he observed.