Fri, 24 Nov 2000

Ministry set to work on marine tourism mapping

JAKARTA (JP): The directorate of sea territory at the Ministry of Maritime and Fishery Affairs is set to work on marine tourism mapping as part of the preparations for regional autonomy in January.

"We'll probably begin the project next year. All these years we have not had such a map and never been really aware of the real marine resources we have," Sea Territory Director Col. Aji Sularso told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.

The map would be important in providing detailed information on potential tourism sites and marine resources such as coral reef areas for diving and fishing grounds, Aji said.

"So far only the Seribu Islands have a complete map of its habitat, flora and fauna and marine resources," he said.

The ministry has been working on the mapping of land and sea borders in relation to the implementation of regional autonomy, he said.

"It is urgent that we have a nation-wide chart as soon as possible to identify the marine resources and anticipate possible disputes over natural assets between regions," Aji said.

Indonesians have always been told that the largest archipelagic country has the world's longest shore line of 88,000 kilometers, he said.

"But the majority of the people don't know what it means and what to do with the resources. We're sitting on a giant gold mine here. Marine tourism is one of the fields that has not been properly managed due to years of the government's land-oriented vision," he said.

On the issue of sea zoning under regional autonomy, the officer reiterated that sea borders are only tools to mark a region's periphery.

"The sea border is an imaginative line. It only functions in an administrative manner but it is not meant to be used by the regions to claim their sea zones.

"Even with regional autonomy, all Indonesians are free to fish or to make a living within the country's territory as long as they do not damage the sea environment," Aji asserted.


On Wednesday, marine ecologist Ngurah N. Wiadnyana said in Purwokerto, Central Java, that the exploitation of marine resources had the potential to cause conflicts between fishermen.

"Conflicts among fishermen living in neighboring regencies could erupt unless the regency administrations arrange the operation of everything clearly before the regional autonomy law is implemented next year," Wiadnyana said on the sidelines of a seminar on the conservation of Segara Anakan Strait in Cilacap.

The seminar took place at the Hendral Soedirman University campus in Purwokerto.

"It is clear that each regency has its own water territory, however determining sea border lines is technically not that easy," he said. "It is impossible to divide the water into lots."

He said that administratively regencies were entitled to exploit the sea up to four miles off the shoreline, and 12 miles for the provinces. "In practice the fishermen will find it difficult to be aware of the border limits."

"Clear regulations and good cooperation among the regencies will make the fishermen aware that the sea is theirs following regional autonomy," he said.

The government has outlined nine fishery zones ahead of regional autonomy -- the Strait of Malacca zone, the South China Sea zone, the Strait of Makassar zone, the Banda Sea zone, the Arafura zone, the Luktumini and Seram zones in Maluku, the North Pacific and the Indian Ocean zones. (45/edt/sur)