Sunday, March 13, 2022

Threat to Coral Reef

Indonesia has got one of the largest coral reefs in the world. This tropical forest of the ocean is the source of food, study of science, tourist attractions and a very important element of marine environment.

The rapid growth of population in this country has raised the demand for seafood. Fishermen catch fish, shrimp, crabs  to meet this demand. Unfortunately, there are those who still use destructive methods to harvest these marine resources. They use bottom trawling net, explosives, and chemicals that are harmful to marine ecosystem. 

Red and Black Anemonefish in Manokwari - a snorkeling photo
Coral Reef in Manokwari

On land, rapid growth of coastal cities and towns in this country has given more pressures to marine environment. 

I have seen the increasing number of wastes that flows to the sea during rainy days. The transparent plastic wastes are eaten by turtles. They consider them as jellyfish. Many of them end up in coral reef areas. They block sunlight from reaching the surface of the corals. Sunlight is needed by coral reef to carry out photosynthesis. Coral reef needs crystal clear water to function properly. When soil sediment, and plastic wastes cover coral reef areas, they will kill them. This, as a whole, threaten the existence of other marine animals that depend of coral reef as their source of food and as their homes. 

Filter marine creatures such as bivalves, sea cucumber, and various kinds of small fish have been excessively exploited from coral reef. This weakens the ability of coral reef to clean and restore itself from all the above wastes.

snorkeling photo from Raja Ampat
Marine Life in Raja Ampat

Damages in food chains and food web will bring catastrophic effect not only on the marine environment but also on human life. Fishermen cannot catch fish in the nearby waters. They need to go further in order to find fish. This means that they need to spend more fuel and build bigger boat without any assurance that they will be able to harvest more fish in distant seas. 

There are a lot of things that we need to do to preserve coral reef. 

  • Strict rules on the protection of coral reefs have to be enforced in order to prevent all kinds of destructive fishing activities from operating in coral reef areas. 
  • Ships and boats that pass over coral reef areas must not dispose wastes and other harmful substances to this precious environment. 
  • All operators of recreational boats must avoid throwing their anchors on the reefs.
  • Certain coral reef sites have to be fully protected under the schemes of No Take Zone or Marine Protected Areas. They will function as fish factory, natural laboratory for scientific study and as important supports for coastal and sea environment.

snorkeling photo from coral reef of Indonesia
Marine Life in Waigeo island of Raja Ampat

Because all the marine organisms are inter-connected, they way we manage our marine resources determine our future. If we can sustainably manage and protect our marine enviroment, we can harvest fish for ever. If we ignore the importance of preserving our marine environment, we may lose it forever.  by Charles Roring

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