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Reef Management--Beyond the Ordinary

Wakatobi has always been about something more than just a great diving experience. Our mission from day one was to establish a dive resort that gave divers a sense of well-being that they are helping contribute to an environmentally and culturally sound conservation program. So it's not an accident that we established the Wakatobi Collaborative Reef Conservation Program, which is now one of the world's largest privately-funded marine protected areas.

Committed to Protection, Education, and Sustainability

For many years, Wakatobi Dive Resort has been known to be one of the world's most proactive eco-tourism resorts and has won several awards for being the most conservation-minded tourism operator in the Asia-Pacific region. Wakatobi Dive Resort has worked together with Project AWARE to advise operators worldwide how to contribute substantially towards the marine ecosystem We received PADI's 2005 Project AWARE Environmental Award and Scuba Diving magazine's 2005 Editors' Choice Award for Environmental Initiatives.

While almost every traveler inevitably has some negative environmental impact on the place he or she visits, it is most important to see the overall environmental impact balance. The question every dive operator has to ask himself is: "Is my operation improving the natural environment? Does the local community benefit directly and indirectly?" Most dive destinations are deteriorating over time for a number of reasons. Wakatobi Dive Resort has not only managed to stop destructive fishing methods and unregulated exploitation, but has actually improved the quality of the resort surroundings, seagrass beds and reefs.

Wakatobi Dive Resort is proud of its efforts to counter destructive trends, to contribute back to the local communities, to build a lasting cooperative conservation program. Here's a sample of how Wakatobi Dive Resort goes beyond others.

Wakatobi Dive Resort Actions

• implements strict rules to minimize divers impact (all guests sign a dive conduct agreement), non-compliance leads to exclusion from diving without refund

• installs and maintains moorings for dive operations

• conducts reef monitoring and cleaning when needed, all dive guides are fully committed to contribute towards conservation

• gives complete dive briefings by top notch senior dive instructors (with at least 2,000 dives) to enhance pleasure, increase knowledge, protect the marine environment

• sponsors regular marine biology and ecology presentations in addition to discussing the resort conservation programs

• offers village tours to further cultural understanding

• cleans a 1 km stretch of beach every day

• reduces, separates and recycles waste as much as possible

• treats waste water in biological ways (microbiological decomposition under ideal conditions at 28 C/leach fields/other treatments to avoid nutrients entering the sea)

• uses local traditional skills to build and maintain the resort, sells local products

• provides full-time employment to a workforce of about 100 locals (with equivalent salaries for men and woman)

Beyond the Ordinary

However, the marine reserve is just one of many unique programs we've established over years. In addition, our operation goes way beyond most dive operators’ scope by:

• sponsoring electricity for the 500-person village on our resort island (including 2 km power line to the village, transformers, electrical installations in every house, providing 24 hrs maintenance team) in exchange for the villagers honoring a 3 km reef sanctuary on their traditional fishing grounds

• sponsoring waste management in the surrounding villages on the neighboring island

• sponsoring public moorings and harbor facilities to reduce anchor damage

• sponsoring public projects for all 17 villages in our subdistrict (Collaborative Community-based Reef Management Program)

• sponsoring schools with education materials

• recognizing that the poorest need the most support to refrain from traditional but destructive practices such as reef gleaning. For this reason, we employ up to 50 widows to produce natural roof tiles (made by sago palm leaves) for the resort buildings and we sponsor scholarships for orphans

• sponsoring public sport events

• sponsoring public awareness meetings about conservation issues and employing staff to socialize conservation programs in all villages

• sponsoring a small credit scheme for small businesses to increase compliance

• sponsoring patrols in the vicinity performed by representatives of the local communities

• sponsoring reef patrols in the Wakatobi region conducted by police, military, and rangers