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Conservation benefit: Permanent ban on hunting oceanic manta rays off Solor Island

Community benefit: New ecotourism and community center

Date Approved: 06.2015


This project supports a local conservation-based tourism initiative.


This project protects ocean ecosystems, making coastal communities more economically and physically secure in the face of climate change.

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.

Project Updates

September 2017

The community center building has been finished. The community plans to hold an official opening in October, when government representatives can visit the area.

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May 2017

Tribal and village leaders have agreed to dedicate land for the community center in Lamakera. The carpenters have shipped all the materials there and will continue construction, which was begun on another island. The goal is to finish this summer.

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January 2017

The land ownership dispute that surfaced last year has now been largely sorted out, according to our field representative Iona Soulsby. Progress on the building is continuing.

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May 2016

A dispute over ownership of the land on which the community center will be built came up recently. In Lamakera, there are no official documents to prove ownership, so the issue is being worked out with the head of the village. Fortunately, progress can continue, because components of the building are being constructed in Bali and will be shipped to Lamakera to be assembled. The building should be completed in a few months.

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January 2016

The floor plan for the community center has been finalized, and most materials have been ordered and delivered. In January, community members conducted a groundbreaking ceremony.

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