However, the waters of Bunaken, the worlds most beautiful marine park and home to diverse marine biota and coral reefs, continue to be littered and polluted by waste due to irresponsible human activities.
Pollution in the waters of Bunaken is currently drawing the attention of both domestic and foreign tourists who visit the marine park; hence, this should be a common concern for the local government, stakeholders, and the entire community in the city of Manado.
Formally established in 1991 and among the first of Indonesias growing system of marine parks, the Bunaken National Marine Park administratively belongs to the municipality of Manado, the center of the North Sulawesi provincial administration.
The park covers a total surface area of 890.65 square kilometers, 97 percent of which is overlain by sparkling clear and warm tropical waters.
The remaining three percent of the parks area is terrestrial, including the five islands of Bunaken, Manado Tua, Mantehage, Nain, and Siladen. Although each of these islands has a unique characteristic, it is the aquatic ecosystem that attracts most naturalists.
Hence, North Sulawesi Governor Olly Dondokambey reiterated that he did not want the waters of Bunaken to be constantly polluted by garbage as it would have a negative impact on the number of tourist arrivals.
Therefore, the governor has recently declared "Save Bunaken" and "Beach Cleaning Movement" in a bid to save the Bunaken waters from trash pollution.
"The declaration of Save Bunaken and Beach Cleaning Movement is the commitment of the governor and vice governor to develop marine tourism in Bunaken, North Sulawesi," Dondokambey remarked.
Save Bunaken and Beach Cleaning Movement will be conducted every month, and this initiative is expected to encourage the local community to play an active role in reducing pollution in the Bunaken waters and maintaining the cleanliness of the shoreline.
Involving members of the Military and Police as well as NGOs working in the field of environment, the initiative will comprise activities such as mangrove planting, beach cleaning, clean environment awareness campaign in the coastal region, and coral reef rehabilitation and transplantation.
The members of the Military and Police are also concerned about the initiative to maintain cleanliness at sea, especially given that Bunaken is a premier marine resort in Sulawesi and Indonesia.
The Military and Police will work together with the Manado municipality and North Sulawesi provincial administration to support the Save Bunaken Movement.
In addition, entrepreneurs working in Manados tourism sector are expected to support the local governments strategy to tackle the littering of garbage in the waters of the Bunaken National Marine Park.
The entrepreneurs must lend support to tackle the garbage problem that has been threatening the underwater beauty of the Bunaken marine park.
The garbage strewn across the waters of Bunaken comes not only from Manado city but also from outside, such as from the Bangka Island in North Minahasa.
Moreover, the tourism entrepreneurs in the city of Manado need to support the local government in handling the garbage as it directly and indirectly affects their businesses.
The issue of garbage pollution has frequently been raised by both domestic and foreign tourists who came to enjoy the underwater beauty of Bunaken.
Bunaken offers some of Indonesias most famous diving sites and draws scuba divers from across the world. In addition to Bunaken itself, a rather featureless banana-shaped island, the national park includes the neighboring islands of Manado Tua, a distinctive cone-shaped extinct volcano, Siladen, Montehagen, Nain, and Nain Kecil. A boat ride from Manado to Bunaken takes some 45 to 60 minutes.
Bunaken is part of the Bunaken National Marine Park, which has some of the richest marine biodiversity in the world. Scuba diving attracts numerous visitors to the island.
The waters of the Bunaken National Marine Park are extremely deep in Manado Bay but are clear, with visibility up to a depth of 40 meters and placid temperatures ranging between 27 and 29 degrees Celsius.
Seven of the eight species of giant clams in the world are found in the Bunaken National Marine Park, which has some 70 genera of corals, compared to a mere 10 in Hawaii.
Although the exact number of fish species is unknown, it may be slightly higher than that in the Philippines, where 2.5 thousand species, or nearly 70 percent of all fish species known to the Indo-western Pacific, are found in Bunaken.
The Bunaken National Park lies in the center of the Coral Triangle, which includes nearly six million square miles of ocean and coastal waters in Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific.
In addition, Bunaken Island alone has a total area of 89,065 hectares, with 22 villages and a population of 40 thousand people, most of whom also sell various souvenirs, and traditional culinary specialties and beverages.
The Bunaken National Park represents Indonesias tropical water ecosystems comprising mangrove forests, seagrass, coral reefs, and land or coastal ecosystems.