Amid the uproar over the controversial plan for the reclamation and development of Benoa Bay, Conservation International ( CI ) Indonesia has come up with a proposal to develop the area into a significant water conservation site.
Together with Badung regional administration, customary villages, the private sector and local fishermengroups, CI Indonesia have designated Benoa Bay as a site for conservation.
Made Iwan Dewantama, program manager for water conservation at CI Indonesia, said on Wednesday that Benoa Bay was a vulnerable area.
According to CI Indonesia's research, any reclamation process would badly affect the marine ecosystem in the bay and threaten residential areas around it.
The research was conducted from the perspectives of hydrology, oceanography and marine biodiversity.
Dewantama, one of the researchers, further elaborated that the possible environmental impact of reclamation at Benoa Bay would depend on the size of the reclaimed area, the reclamation method and the implementation of the reclamation project.
In theory, reclamation at Benoa Bay would trigger excessive flooding in the hinterland and low-lying areas as it would prevent river water from flowing into the open sea. The possible backwater phenomenon would affect areas such as Ngurah Rai International Airport in Tuban, Dewa Ruci underpass, Sanur Kauh, Suwung Kangin, Pemogan, Pesanggaran and Benoa Bay areas.
The proposed conservation designation for Benoa Bay was crucial to maintain a balanced ecosystem in Bali.
'We encourage the Badung regent and his administration to immediately designate Benoa Bay as a water conservation site,' he said.
The site would be divided into three zoning areas ' a main area, sustainable fishing area, and a tourism area. In the main area, no activities would be allowed except for research and scientific studies.
'The zoning areas would be decided in a meeting involving all stakeholders, including the local fishermen,' he stated.
In fact, Benoa Bay has already been designated a conservation site under a presidential decree on the Sarbagita ( Denpasar, Badung, Gianyar and Tabanan ) area.
Making Benoa Bay a water conservation site was considered a comprehensive, visionary and sustainable policy to protect and preserve Bali's coastal areas and small islets.
'In the context of marine and coastal conservation, Benoa Bay possesses a very high and strategic conservation value,' Dewantama said.