Communities stand up to protect ocean
The provincial Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Agency stated that public participation in ocean conservation initiatives had continued to blossom.
As of 2013, the agency identified up to 47 community-based organizations that actively implemented programs to protect and conserve the marine ecosystem in their respective regions.
The presence of these organizations had driven down destructive fishing practices, which for decades had been a constant threat to the island’s coral reefs and fish population. Destructive fishing practices included the use of poison and explosives, as well as trawl nets.
“Cases of using explosives to kill fish have dropped significantly,” the agency’s monitoring chief, Yohanes Bangkit, said Monday.
He attributed this drop to the existence of the community-based organizations.
For instance, the waters of Gerokgak in Buleleng used to have a high number of destructive fishing cases until the establishment of the pecalang segara (guardians of the sea) by the local communities and tourist industry in the area.
Members of the pecalang segara conduct routine patrols to intercept fishing boats suspected of stealing coral or fishing using poison and explosives. The organization was clearly inspired by the existing pecalang, selected adult males appointed by the influential desa pekraman (customary village) as both security officers and enforcers of traditional law.
Environmental organizations had also sprouted up in other regions. To date, there were nine organizations in Jembrana, seven in Buleleng and the rest were in Badung, Tabanan and Klungkung. Jembrana and Buleleng boasted the highest number of organizations due to two facts: both have a significant length of coastline and a sizable population of fishermen.
The rising number of environmental, community-based organizations, Yohanes pointed out, was also caused by the emergence of the ocean as an important asset in the lucrative tourist industry.
“An increasing number of locals now involved in ecotourism are watersports operators. These activities need an intact and well-preserved ocean ecosystem and they have to ensure this in order to maintain the operation of those businesses.”
A decorative fish protection area in Tejakula, Buleleng, and mangrove conservation area in Nusa Lembongan were two examples of initiatives launched by locals to increase their respective areas’ tourism “value”.
The existence of these organizations would prove vital for the success of the island’s administration in coping with ecological damage.
The Bali Rapid Marine Assessment Program (RAP) in 2011 showed that human activities had inflicted damage on coral reefs in Ceningan channel, Ped, Sanur, Pasir Putih beach in Karangasem, Gilimanuk Bay, and Klatakan beach in Jembrana. The coral reefs in Sanur and Klatakan also showed damage caused by trash.