Indonesia is the world’s largest archipelago made up of more than 17,000 islands with 81,000 kilometres of coastline, 4000 hectares of mangrove forest and over 51,000 square kilometres of coral reefs. Its unique marine and coastal environments make it a top destination for millions of tourists each year and rich resource for local fishing industries.
As part of the Coral Triangle, which spans across Malaysia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Timor Leste and the Solomon Islands, Indonesia has some of the most diverse marine environments in the world with over 3,000 fish species, home to six out of the seven marine turtle species and important environments for marine mammals including dugongs, whales and dolphins.
Currently, over 40% of Indonesia’s reefs are lost or seriously damaged and its marine environments are under threat from over-fishing, damaging fishing techniques, and pollution. This area has been and still remains the primary focus of many global and local conservation efforts to help protect and mitigate the marine and coastal environments from these effects but there is still a long road ahead.
Organisations, like JARI, are helping to implement long-term strategies for the protection of Indonesia’s marine and coastal environments at a local, regional and national level in order to ensure that these areas of ecological and environmental importance can be protected for future generations.
East Lombok & West Sumbawa
Alas Strait lies between Eastern Lombok Island and Western Sumbawa Island in the province of West Nusa Tenggara. For decades, the ocean and 14 small islands around Alas Strait have sustained coastal communities with locals relying on these rich waters for food such as fish, shells and sea cucumbers. Due to fishing techniques such as dynamite and cyanide fishing, as well as tourists inadvertently destroying the reef while enjoying the beauty of the area, these waters have suffered considerable damage.
In 2004, the local government of East Lombok took a step to conserve and protect the marine environment and biodiversity of the small islands in East Lombok by introducing two marine parks. These marine parks aim to protect the areas surrounding Gili Lawang, Gili Sulat and Gili Petagan off the north-east coast of Lombok.
Today, Alas Strait is still under considerable threat from irresponsible tourism and unsustainable fishing practices, yet many new threats are arising, which must be mitigated to ensure that they are not detrimental to the health of this beautiful marine and coastal environment.