TEMPO.CO, Mataram - The Sumbawa Regency Government and a conservation group Konservasi Indonesia signed a deal to develop ecotourism for charismatic marine animals, whale sharks. Through the agreement, both parties will exercise various joint efforts to preserve the presence of the endangered species in the regency.
Chair of the Board of Konservasi Indonesia, Meizani Irmadhiany, said cooperation in the development and management of sustainable resources in the tourism sector is necessary to generate economic benefits for the community as it can provide a multiplier effect for other economic sectors.
“This collaboration is expected to support the development of ecotourism for charismatic marine animals as a blue economy model in Sumbawa Regency, as well as support the mission of the Regency Government in improving its tourism sector and managing it sustainably,” she said on Tuesday, May 10.
Meizani said shark whale eco-tourism could also increase community participation in conservation and boost regional development that will eventually improve the welfare of coastal communities.
The whale shark is listed as a protected species in Indonesia under the Decree of the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister No. 18 of 2013. The gentle giants often make long migration journeys and their habitats spread in almost all Indonesian waters. However, only a few are documented including in Saleh Bay or Teluk Saleh located between Sumbawa and Dompu Regency.
Saleh Bay is known as the location with the second-largest whale shark population with at least 99 whale sharks. UNESCO also recognizes the presence of whale sharks in the bay and adds Saleh-Moyo-Tambora or Samota areas to its biosphere reserves list in 2019.
SUPRIYANTHO KHAFID (CONTRIBUTOR)