Locally Managed Marine Areas (LMMA) are a tool for local village communities to protect, use and sustainably manage their marine resources.
The LMMA is an area defined by the community to be managed under a set of rules and regulations by the people who live in and own that area.
Mahonia Na Dari, aware of the success of Marine Protected Areas throughout the world, introduced the concept to Kimbe Bay in 1996 and by 1997, a no-take Locally Managed Marine Area (LMMA) was established by the Kilu community adjacent to the Walindi Nature Centre.
The Kilu LMMA project involved a wide range of stakeholders, including community leaders, local and international NGOs, dive operators and university researchers. The Kilu LMMA was one of the first community-based marine reserves in PNG and as such is a focal point for significant scientific research as well as being the cornerstone of an effort to develop a network of LMMAs in the wider Kimbe Bay and New Guinea Islands region.
Since the project’s inception, managers have used ecosystem monitoring to assess the ecological effectiveness of the LMMA, identify major threats, and characterize reef health. However, managers were also interested in socio-economic monitoring so they could customize conservation strategies to reflect the specific needs and concerns of the local community.
Mahonia Na Dari, jointly with The Nature Conservancy, now works with targeted coastal communities in the Kimbe area to help develop Locally Managed Marine areas. These LMMA’s under development include, coral reefs, inshore sea grass beds, island and mangrove forests. The majority of the LMMA’s are located within one kilometer of the main island and will provide basic management of approximately 60 square kilometers of near shore and marine habitats. Signs indicating “No-take zones” have been installed, but the harsh marine environment means they are constantly in need of replacement.
Mahonia has also contributed to the establishment of “no-take” zones in Manus, a nearby, remote Province of PNG. Loniu and the Ambahan Clan of Ahus Island have set aside a certain number of their traditional fishing reefs as ‘no take’ zones after Mahonia Na Dari conducted the marine environmental education and awareness programs in their villages. The closures were initiated by the resource owners with the objectives of replenishing the reefs with harvestable resources and strengthening their traditional management practices. Mahonia conducted baseline biological monitoring surveys on these recently-established LMMAs. The data collected from these surveys will act as the basis for future monitoring plans to assess the effectiveness of the LMMAs. In recent years PNGCLMA ( PNG Centre for Locally Managed Areas Inc) has become increasingly active in Kimbe Bay coastal communities.