For centuries, the people of Lamakera have hunted some of the most magnificent animals in the sea: whales, sharks, dolphins, and the giant oceanic mantas. These mantas are the largest rays in the world. They can span almost 30 feet, weigh almost 3,000 pounds, and live for 20 years. Because mantas are migratory, Lamakera is responsible for approximately a third of the total global oceanic mantas catch. But catches are dwindling, and new Indonesian law (as yet unenforced) bans manta fishing. The villagers know that they need to develop new, sustainable livelihoods.
To this end, the villagers have agreed to stop hunting oceanic mantas. To support this commitment, Seacology is funding an ecotourism and community center in Lamakera. Village residents will use it to showcase cultural history and crafts and to tell the story of the community’s switch from hunting mantas to other livelihoods.
This project is part of a large and well-thought out effort to help Lamakera move to a more sustainable, prosperous future. The plan was put together with the help of a highly regarded Indonesian nonprofit, the Misool Foundation. It incorporates legal protections, alternative livelihood development, community education, and on-the-ground commitment.