The Jakarta Post
The Gulf of Tomini, which will play host to two international maritime events later this year, continues to suffer from environmental destruction due to illegal fishing and the absence of law enforcement.
Tomini, which is bounded by three provinces in Sulawesi Island, has suffered mightily from dynamite fishing and trawl-net fishing. Environmental activists have reported that in Pohuwato regency in Gorontalo, fishermen still employed the destructive method to ensure larger catches.
According to Nilmawati of Destructive Fishing Watch (DFW) Indonesia, while fishermen in Lemito and Popayato said dynamite fishing net them at least 700 kilograms of fish per day and trawl-netting 200 kilograms of fish per trip, fish populations were steadily declining.
'Bombings destroy corals, which function as reproduction sites for fish,' Nilmawati said Wednesday.
Fishermen who used more environmentally friendly tools like fishing rods or spears, meanwhile, catch less than 70 kilograms of fish each day.
According to DFW research, satellite imaging revealed a massive reduction in the coral coverage in waters off Lemito, one of the best and most important coral reefs in the world.
In 1990, coral coverage was recorded over 883,620 hectares off Lemito. In 2014, the reef had been reduced by 134 hectares.
Nilmawati said the situation would deteriorate further if nothing was done. 'Coral growth is very slow. We are only seeing around a centimeter of growth each year,' she said.
The two international maritime events, the Sail Tomini and the Boalemo Festival, are expected to boost protection efforts by local administrations and raise awareness among fishermen, specifically by providing a solution for dynamite fishing.
The Gulf of Tomini is known as a center of marine diversity, home to 819 species of reef fish. Based on 2007 data, 4 million people make a living from the gulf.
Ansar Akuba, an environmental activist in Tomini, said that the economic drivers of dynamic fishing were exacerbated by the lack of monitoring by law enforcers.
The annual Sail Indonesia event in Tomini, scheduled to be held in Central Sulawesi on Sept. 18-20, aims to accelerate economic growth and developing marine tourism in Indonesia.
The central government expects Sail Tomini 2015 to benefit the regions in many ways, especially in the tourism and hospitality sectors.
According to government data, domestic and international tourists to the province rose by 10.53 percent during the fourth quarter of the year compared to the same quarter last year. The sail is expected to help increase the number of travelers to the province by the in the third quarter of 2015.
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