France Grants €500,000 to Conserve Whale Sharks in Sumbawa

Image : Konservasi Indonesia
The grant will strengthen the whale shark ecotourism management in Saleh Bay, especially in enforcing regulations, the code of conduct, and a quota system crucial for protecting whale shark populations and tourist safety. 
The French Embassy has provided a €500,000 grant to support improved management of the whale shark habitat in Saleh Bay, Sumbawa, West Nusa Tenggara. The conservation area is managed by the Sumbawa Regency Government and Conservation International Indonesia.
Recently, the whale shark habitat in Saleh Bay gained recognition as an Important Whale Shark Area by the IUCN Shark Specialist Group. The region serves as a feeding ground and migratory corridor for the species within the Sunda Strait seascape.


Whale Shark Ecotourism in Saleh Bay

The grant agreement was signed by Conservation International’s Senior Vice President and Executive Chair Meizani Irmadhiany and French Ambassador to Indonesia, Timor Leste and ASEAN Fabien Penone at the Auditorium of the Institut Français Indonesia (IFI) on Wednesday.
The ceremony was witnessed by the Directorate General of Marine Spatial Management at Indonesia’s Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries Firdaus Agung, and the Acting Governor of West Nusa Tenggara Lalu Gita Ariadi.
“This support from the French Embassy is crucial for developing the conservation area and protecting whale sharks in Indonesia,” Firdaus stated. The ministry has prioritized whale shark conservation as one of 20 key marine species.
“This project kick-off can be the right momentum to align perspectives and goals, becoming a comprehensive effort for whale shark conservation in Saleh Bay,” he added.
Firdaus said the location could be pushed as a whale shark-based marine protected area designated by the ministry through technical guidelines, a code of conduct, carrying capacity assessments, and delivering economic impacts for local communities.
“France welcomes the establishment of a marine conservation area together with Conservation International and close cooperation with the Indonesian government. This is fully in line with our international commitment to protect at least 30% of the global ocean by 2030,” Ambassador Penone remarked.
As a maritime power, France is deeply concerned with these challenges and encourages establishing marine protected areas and developing ecotourism in these regions – a key outcome from the second French-Indonesian maritime dialogue in Paris last March.
Meanwhile, Meizani stated that Conservation International’s research in Labuhan Jambu Village with the Sumbawa Regency Government successfully developed community-based whale shark conservation and policy development. This scientific data underpinned sustainable ecotourism growth, leading to the adoption of a Whale Shark Tourism Code of Conduct by the ministry in 2022 and West Nusa Tenggara Province in 2023 as a management tool by the Regional Public Service Agency (BLUD) in Saleh Bay.

Lead image courtesy of Konservasi Indonesia