Tue, 16 Aug 1994

RI needs to protect coastal ecosystems from destruction

JAKARTA (JP): Poor management and coordination between government agencies are the main reasons for the difficulties in determining who should be responsible for the problems occurring along the coastal regions.

Participants in a one-day forum on how to prevent the destruction of coastal and marine ecosystems, yesterday, said that only through clear coordination could there be a stricter enforcement of the law.

The forum, which was attended by members of government agencies, NGOs and the private sector, felt that there had to be more cooperation between each of their organizations to achieve an optimum result.

"However, we have to remove all feelings of hostility between us before we can start any sort of cooperation," said Surna T. Djajadiningrat, third secretary to the State Minister of Environment overseeing Operations Coordination.

Overlapping authority in the coastal regions between the Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Forestry, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Armed Forces and local (city and provincial) authorities often occurs in this region, as there is currently no clear distribution of authority there.

In other instances, however, parts of the regions are not overseen by any of them and are left unattended, making them prey to illegal fishing and man-made environmental destruction.

As a result of the poor coastal resources management, coral reefs and fish in various parts of Indonesia, which were once extremely rich in variety, have been destroyed by poisonous fishing, explosives, pollution and a lack of environmental consciousness.

Research conducted by the Office of the State Minister of Environment revealed that, as of last year, only seven percent of Indonesia's coral reefs were in satisfactory condition. Thirty three percent were categorized as average, 14 percent were in critical condition and 46 percent were completely destroyed.

State Minister of Environment Sarwono Kusumaatmadja, who opened the forum yesterday, said his office was considering prohibiting the export and trade of a certain expensive species of reef fish commonly known as the Napoleon fish. "The way they are captured is very cruel as divers use potassium to stun them and reefs are destroyed to catch the fish," he said.

Sarwono said that good coordination could only be achieved if Indonesia abandoned its tradition of managing marine environment on an administrative basis instead of good, reliable information.

Surna said the source of environmental destruction was in fact the poverty which still existed among the community of fishermen.


Conservation should not only be done for the sake of conservation itself but also to alleviate poverty in these communities, he said. "We have the strategy and the policy, the question is how do we implement it?" he asked. He added that without definite guidelines, there would be no improvement.

Yesterday, Sarwono also launched Indonesia's Sustainable Development Network which is sponsored by the United Nations Development Program.

Surna, a member of the SDN's Steering Committee explained that the network is made up of four nodes: the government, NGOs, businessmen and a university body.

"These four are expected to interact and disseminate information concerning the environment to their respective fields as well as to the public," he said.

UNDP Resident Representative C. Jan Kamp said the UNDP has sponsored US$138,000 for the network's operation, for 18 months. The network was expected to become independent afterwards, he said.(pwn)