Rising sea temperatures
bad news for seaweed farmers

Seaweed farmers in Nusa Penida and Nusa Lembongan islands, Bali, are suffering from changing sea conditions as a result of climate change.

Community development group Kalimajari, which assists seaweed farmers in Nusa Penida, said sea temperatures had increased by between 2 and 3 degrees Celsius in the last two years, causing the outbreak of a disease locally known as ice-ice, a condition that causes seaweed to decay.

"Farmers have been complaining about sea temperatures getting hotter, and have found the outbreak occurs every planting cycle," I Gusti Agung Ayu Widiastuti, from Kalimajari, told a seminar on adaptation to climate change in coastal areas, in Sanur, Bali, on Tuesday.

She said the extreme changes in sea conditions had depleted stocks of Euchema seaweed, previously the most profitable species for farmers.

Seaweed production decreased from 500 tons in 2007 to 200 tons in 2008.

Seaweed farming is the main livelihood of people on the two islands. Normally, they earn between Rp 1.5 million and 2 million each harvest period, but now they struggle to make ends meet.

Armi Susandi from the National Council on Climate Change (DNPI) predicted that by 2100, 115 out of 18,000 islands in Indonesia would be submerged, rendering 800,000 homeless.

The DNPI also forecasted that 287 out of 5,345 square kilometers of Bali would be submerged by 2020. The total submerged area would double to 557 square kilometers by 2080.

"This will cause changes to fishery and agricultural patterns, and will badly influence the tourist sector," Armi said.

The DNPI is the country's focal point on climate change issues, it was set up under a Presidential decree and was tasked to coordinate policies and efforts to deal with climate change.

As the DNPI's executive chairman is no longer Rachmat Witoelar, many expressed doubt about the effectiveness of the council to tackle climate issues.

Rachmat, however brushed away the doubts saying there would be no changes in the council's role in dealing with climate change.

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