News Feature - Time for central, local governments to maintain Raja Ampat`s cleanliness

News Feature  -  Time for central, local governments to maintain Raja Ampat`s cleanliness

Vice Presidential candidate Ma'ruf Amin and his wife Wury Estu Handayani in Raja Ampat, Papua, Thursday (Nov 22, 2018). (Special)

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Raja Ampat has 553 coral reef species, constituting 75 percent of the world`s coral reef biodiversity, and over a thousand coral fish species along with terrestrial forests that serve as habitats for numerous unique birds.

Hence, the cleanliness of its sea should be maintained, so that Raja Ampat, the popular tourist destination in the Eastern province of Indonesia, is able to attract more tourists.

It is time for the central and local governments to continue to maintain its cleanliness, though practically, it is no longer polluted with plastic wastes that may endanger the existence of some one thousand coral fish species in that sea.

Recently, Raja Ampat District Head Abdul Faris Umlati said the government and local community were highly committed to maintaining the cleanliness of the sea to support sustainable tourism.

The Raja Ampat Sea is scenic and popular among tourists, so it must be protected mainly from plastic waste that can damage the underwater ecosystem, Umlati noted in Waisai recently as quoted by Antara.

According to Umlati, one of the efforts of the regional government to maintain the cleanliness of the sea is to campaign for the use of refillable tumblers or bottled water, so that people reduce the use of plastic bottles.

In Umlati`s view, if all people of Raja Ampat opt for tumblers, then the use of plastic bottles will consequently reduce, and the amount of plastic waste generated too will decrease.

Apart from the community, tourists visiting Raja Ampat are also encouraged to use tumblers if they are active in the waters or in local tourist destinations.

Thus, the amount of generated plastic waste, especially bottled mineral water, will decrease, thereby keeping the sea of Raja Ampat clean.

Not only local governments, but conservation institutions operating in Raja Ampat are also encouraging local communities to maintain the cleanliness of the sea and to reduce the use of plastic.

"Tourism stakeholders in Raja Ampat are also committed to maintaining the cleanliness of the sea, so that the underwater beauty of Raja Ampat remains sustainable and can be enjoyed by the future generations," he stated.

To ensure the success of the national movement to clear the sea of garbage, Raja Ampat District, West Papua Province, in collaboration with the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, involved hundreds of divers from various institutions and government and private institutions to clean the Raja Ampat Sea of garbage and spiny stars.

The clean sea action titled "Clean up the sea, remove spiny starfish in the sea at 73 locations along the entire Indonesian coast" was held in Waisai-Kota Raja Ampat Port.

In addition to the Waisai Port, as the entrance to Raja Ampat, similar activities were also conducted in two tourist attractions in Raja Ampat: Saunek Mondey Island and Arborek Island, Meonsmanswar District, Raja Ampat.

Raja Ampat District, through the Raja Ampat Tourism Service Head Yusdi Lamatenggo, explained that sea-cleaning activities were a national action to clean the Indonesian sea of garbage.

This activity is a real action to care for the sea in commemoration of the 73rd Anniversary of the Independence of the Republic of Indonesia.

Lamatenggo explained that this activity was not only conducted in Raja Ampat but also in 72 other coastal points in Indonesia, ranging from Sabang to Merauke.

"Raja Ampat is the last point of the sea-cleaning action in the framework of this year`s Indonesian Independence Proclamation. This movement aims to support the national movement to clean the sea. Why, to instill our love for the sea," Lamatenggo noted.

According to Lamatenggo, maintaining sea cleanliness is not only the responsibility of the government but also of all components of society.

Indonesia is the largest contributor of marine waste in the world.

"If left unchecked, the sea will be full of garbage. In fact, Hasanuddin University research indicates that fish in eastern Indonesia contain a lot of microplastic," Lamatenggo remarked after giving directions for divers.

This sea-cleaning activity is supported by several institutions, such as Raja Ampat`s Proportional Diving Diving Club, which is a gathering of resort, hotel, and homestay entrepreneurs in Raja Ampat, Non-Governmental Organization communities, such as Conservation International, Association of Diving Tourism Entrepreneurs of the Republic of Indonesia (Gahawisri), and the Raja Ampat car club.

After approximately an hour at the sea floor of Waisai Port, Raja Ampat divers managed to retrieve vast quantities of various types of garbage in their respective plastic bags. Furthermore, the garbage will be disposed at the final disposal site.

"I hope people can see this. This sea is not a rubbish place. Let us respect the sea together. The sea is our shared future. Moreover, Raja Ampat is a world-class tourist destination, and it is hoped that people can maintain the beauty of our beloved nature," he stated.
Editing by Rahmad Nasution