I very much endorse this program ..."
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The Indonesian Navys Marine Corps successfully concluded the "Save Our Littoral Life" movement of planting one million coral reefs to mark the 70th anniversary of Indonesias independence on August 17.

"I very much endorse this program because it is in line with our strategic policy of transforming Indonesia into a global maritime axis," President Jokowi said, while officially launching the "Save Our Littoral Life" program during a teleconference from the State Palace in Jakarta on August 15.

He said he believed that the coral reef planting campaign had helped support the governments maritime axis program.

The video teleconference was broadcast live in three cities, notably Sabang (Aceh Province), to represent western Indonesia; Manado (North Sulawesi Province) for Central Indonesia; and in Ambon (Maluku Province) for eastern Indonesia.

Simultaneously, coral reef planting activities were carried out at Gapang beach in Sabang on the Weh Island, Aceh Province in western Indonesia; at the Malayang beach in Manado (North Sulawesi) for central Indonesia; and in Ambon, Maluku Province, for eastern Indonesia, on August 15.

Under the "Save Our Littoral Life" campaign, the Marine Corps had set a target of planting one million coral reefs over an area of 100 hectares spread across 51 locations, and through 243 planting sites. The re-planting program began in May 2015.

Jokowi said two-thirds of Indonesian territory comprised of waters that must be protected and preserved because they had natural resource potential that could promise a better future and prosperity for the public.

"Underwater vegetation, particularly coral reef and its ecosystem, must be protected and preserved, because coral reefs act as a habitat for various fish, where they play, look for food, and reproduce," he said.

The President urged people across the nation to share the responsibility of protecting and preserving the marine ecosystem as a source of life and foreign exchange for the state in the future.

In Ambon, Maluku Governor Said Assagaff, local officials and 200 divers consisting of marines and marine lovers, planted coral reefs on the Tapal Kuda beach in Ambon Bay, Maluku, on August 15.

"I am very proud that I could experience diving in Ambon waters, along with some marines and the diving community. Ambon had been selected as one of the three cities for the save coral reef program, which was broadcast live by SCTV," the governor stated.

Ambon has a number of beautiful diving spots and coral reefs are significant assets of Ambons marine tourism industry.

The coral reef planting activity in Ambon was carried out 9.5 meters to 14 meters deep underwater. The marines also released fingerlings in the waters.

Local fishermen aboard some 100 traditional boats, which were decorated, among other things with the national red-and-white flags, also took part in the "Save Our Littoral Life" in Ambon. They played traditional musical instruments to encourage the divers.

The Commander of the Fleet Defense IX battalion in Ambon, Marine Major Trio Frederamsy Sumantri, said a total of 125,000 coral reefs were be planted in Ambon.

"The process will continue. We will communicate with the University of Pattimura, the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), and the maritime affairs and fisheries office in Ambon, to restore the damaged coral reefs," Major Trio remarked.

On Aceh Provinces Weh Island, some 200 Marine Corps divers planted coral reefs across 1.2 hectares in Sabang, the Commander of the Infantry Battalion-8, Major Gede Edy Supryadi, said in Sabang.

Sabang was chosen as the location for the program because most of its coral reefs were damaged during the deadly 2004 tsunami.

Supryadi also expressed hope that the replanting of the coral reefs would help boost marine tourism in Aceh.

Moreover, the Marine Corps held an underwater flag hoisting ceremony on August 17, with Rear Admiral Taufiqoerrachman officiating as the inspector and Lieutenant Colonel Sulaksana acting as the Commander.

In Manado, some 500 divers, mostly marines and local inhabitants, planted coral reefs and released five thousand grouper fingerlings at the Malalayang beach.

In the East Java Province, the marines planted some 10 thousand coral reefs out of 17 thousand, in waters 15 meters deep near the Sine beach, Tulungagung.

In Jayapura, Papua, 8,000 coral reefs were planted by 70 divers in the Yos Sudarso waters, near an empty isle in Youtefa Bay, at a depth of seven meters.

"The marines have planted some 10,136 coral reefs in Papua and the West Papua province," Lt. Col. Sunardi said.

Indonesia remains the global center of marine biodiversity in the world, with its diverse marine ecosystem that includes more than 500 species of coral, and at least 3,000 species of fish.

From May to July 2015, the Marine Corps had planted some 400,000 coral reefs over an area of 30 hectares at a number of beaches, including the Labuhan beach in Lamongan, the Bama beach in Sidoarjo, and near the Pramuka isle on Seribu Islands, as well as along the coasts of Kelapa Rapet, Klaura, Ketapang, Kelagian, and Lembing.

Editor: Priyambodo RH
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