The declaration of the Savu Sea, located in East Nusa Tenggara, as a marine protected area (MPA) has yet to be followed up with sufficient facilities to increase the monitoring of illegal and destructive fishing in the area. East Nusa Tenggara Governor Frans Lebu Raya said the main obstacle to providing proper boats for patrolling the 3.5-million-hectare body of water was a limited budget.
“The Savu Sea is vast. We usually cooperate with the Water Police and the Navy to monitor the area once a month or once every three months,” he told The Jakarta Post after the launching of the Savu Sea Marine National Park, at the Sintesa Peninsula Hotel here Wednesday. The event was also attended by regents from East Nusa Tenggara and singers Andre Hehanusa and Dewi Gita.
Frans said the province had received a patrol boat from the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry, but it was not suitable for use in the open sea. Another challenge, he went on, would be to attract investors to develop downstream fisheries businesses, such as canning factories, that would create job opportunities and raise the income of coastal residents.
He added his administration was developing seaweed farming to raise fishermen’s capacity building and win them over to the idea of the MPA. Hirmen Syofyanto, the Nature Conservancy’s (TNC) Savu Sea project leader, concurred there was lack of funding to monitor the area, said to be the largest MPA in the coral triangle bounded by Malaysia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Timor Leste and Indonesia.
The Savu Sea is estimated to be home to at least 500 species of coral and more than 300 fish species, as well as to the blue whale, sperm whale and four of the existing seven species of sea turtles. “Illegal and destructive fishing practices are still widespread in the Savu Sea. The fishermen, both foreign and local, use bombs and cyanide,” Hirmen said, adding the current level of monitoring was very low.
He said TNC, one of several NGOs involved in the Savu Sea project, only joined the project last December, and was still at the preparatory stage, including on structural management and the establishing of a valid database of the biophysics of the sea and the local economy of residents. Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Freddy Numberi said the launching of the Savu Sea Marine National Park represented the implementation of Indonesia’s MPA National Plan of Action within the framework of the Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI) on Coral Reefs, Fisheries and Food Security.
“We’re taking action now to safeguard our fish stocks, our coral reefs, our rich marine life and coastal resources,” he said in his opening speech, adding the government would focus on efforts to ensure the MPAs were managed well in the years to come. He said by establishing the Savu Sea as an MPA, the country’s target to reach 10 million hectares of area by 2010 had been met and surpassed.
Savu Sea Facts
. Located in the coral triangle
. Consists of 3.5 million hectares of waters encompassing two marine areas
. Covers 151 coastal villages in 10 regencies
. Directly affects 25,625 households
. Confirmed natural habitat for 14 species of cetaceans
. Home to hawksbill turtles, green turtles, leatherback turtles and Olive Ridley turtles
Source: The Jakarta Post – May 14, 2009. Article by Indah Setiawati