Most problems the Indonesian marine environment faces are quite comparable to what we face in East Africa. But one that is different and urgent to solve is (plastic) marine pollution. The waste management system is often absent and the public awareness low. People dump their garbage in huge quantities along the roads, in nature and the river beds. From there it flushes straight into the ocean with the first rains. Plastic in the Indonesian waters is not an exception, it is a rule. After China, Indonesia is the 2nd biggest marine polluter worldwide.
Several areas in Indonesia are still suffering from the dynamite fishing practices back in the days. Loose rubble in the shallows falls down the slopes, damaging healthy reefs below. These rather tangible problems can be addressed with special techniques we like to deploy soon in collaboration with one or more local NGOs. We are planning to start these activities end of 2021/beginning 2022.
Raja Ampat is an isolated pearl in West Papua that got more attention in the dive community the last 20 years due to its extreme beauty and high marine biodiversity. First waves of tourism often have a positive impact on marine conservation. A good example is the ban of the shark finning business that was big in Raja Ampat until 10 years ago. Now the area is declared a sanctuary for sharks and rays and catching them is prohibited. Marine park entrance fees help protecting the marine park and home stays provide alternative income from fishing. But more tourism has a turning point, eventually it means more fishing and more destruction of the reef by divers, anchors and pollution. More development of the area also creates more sedimentation, erosion due to logging and again, more pollution. By being present by starting community-based coral restoration projects and awareness campaigns, we can keep a close eye on the developments and help out when necessary.
On Gili Air in Lombok we set up a first (pilot) coral farm in collaboration with Gili Shark Conservation in January 2021. Gili Air has suffered a lot from the 2018 earthquake. Tourism and overfishing are current threats. There is a lot of coral rubble on the sea floor - partly due to the 2018 earthquake, partly due to the continuous anchoring of boats including tourist operators on the south side of the island. Since the loose rubble moves with the currents, it prevents coral larvae to settle, leaving several sites like a graveyard for decades or maybe forever. Gili Shark Conservation and other NGOs have deployed several steel domes on the sea floor trying to stabilize the rubble. On the steel domes corals are transplanted, thus creating a new reef system. To assure a continuous supply of these juvenile corals, we started the farm on the east side of Gili Air where anchoring is prohibited. We started with a small pilot farm and trained the team in the farming and out-planting process. A project with the support of Oceans5 Dive Resort.