Synergy among ministries crucial to addressing marine pollution

Synergy among ministries crucial to addressing marine pollution

waste in West Nusa Tenggara waters. (ANTARA FOTO/Ahmad Subaidi)

Jakarta  (ANTARA News) - Three sea turtles were found dead some 150 meters off Pari Island, Seribu (One Thousand) Islands District, Jakarta, Nov 27, apparently due to plastic litter and oil spill, Jakarta Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA) stated.

The turtles were covered in mucus, and plastic litter was found in their mouths and front claws, Chief of Conservation Section of the BKSDA Office in Hajarta Ida Harwati testified.

Earlier, on Nov 19, a carcass of a 9.5-meter-long sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus) was discovered by local fishermen, as it was washed ashore the Kapota Isle, Wakatobi District, Southeast Sulawesi.

Researchers of the Wakatobi Fisheries and Maritime Community Academy were shocked to find 5.9 kilograms of plastic waste in the whale`s stomach, including flip-flops and 115 drinking cups.

Globally, thousands of marine animals were killed by plastic wastes in ocean. Every year, some one-third of the marine biota, including coral reefs and also seabirds, die owing to plastic wastes that end up in the ocean.

This situation is a matter of grave concern, considering that coral reefs play a major role in protecting the coast from erosion, coastal flooding, and other destructive events caused by the sea water phenomena. Coral reefs also offer food and shelter for the growth for various marine biota.

A low turtle population is also concerning since sea turtles play a crucial role in the ecosystem by keeping the wetlands and rivers clean.

According to the WWF Indonesia`s official website, four of the six species of sea turtles -- green turtles (Chelonia mydas), "belimbing" or leatherback turtles (Dermochelys coriacea), "sisik" or hawksbill turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata), and "lekang" or olive Ripley turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea) -- lay their eggs on Indonesian beaches.

The WWF Indonesia further noted that the Indonesian waters are also the most important migratory route of sea turtles at the crossroads of the Pacific and Indian Oceans.

Indonesia is known as one of the major producers of plastic waste. Disposable plastic bags, plastic straws, styrofoam, and plastic bottles are widely used in the oil-producing country and the world`s largest archipelagic nation, with a population of some 260 million.

In Seribu Islands, for instance, most of its waters are polluted with trash, including plastic wastes coming from industries and households in Jakarta.

Chief of the Environment Office of Seribu Islands District Yusen Hardiman said recently that the agency got rid of 40 tons of marine litter.

To reduce plastic waste, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti recently called to put a stop to single-use plastic products in order to help the government achieve its target of reducing 70 percent of plastic waste in the ocean by 2025.

"I call on the ladies and gentlemen to stop the usage of single-use plastic products," she noted.

If plastic waste is not reduced, there would be more plastic waste than fish in the ocean by 2030, she cautioned.

Pudjiastuti expressed concern that Indonesia is the second-largest contributor of plastic waste in ocean.

"The sea must be protected because it is a legacy, not our own. It is a legacy from our great grandma to us. Since it is a legacy, we must pass it down to our grandchildren," the minister noted.

Indonesia`s coastal line is the second-longest in the world after that of Canada, and if it is managed properly, it could improve the livelihood of the Indonesian people.

"Oceans constitute 70 percent of the world, while 70 percent of Indonesian territory comprises oceans in addition to rivers and lakes. Over 80 percent, nearly 85 percent of Indonesian territory is water. Hence, water should be the source of life for all of us," she remarked.

The ocean must be preserved since the livelihoods of several people rely on it.

For ocean preservation, the public must reduce the use of plastic, such as plastic bags, straws, and plastic cups, which could pollute the environment and kill ocean animals.

Vice President M. Jusuf Kalla had stated on November 23, 2018, that the government planned to reduce plastic use by applying disincentive and imposing sanction.

The ongoing deliberation to reduce plastic waste also concerned technology and plastic use reduction stages, according to Kalla.

Meanwhile, an NGO activist has urged the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry (KKP) and relevant ministries to establish synergy to address the problem of plastic waste in the Nusantara Ocean.

"The (KKP) should synergize with the Environmental Affairs and Forestry Ministry, Trade Ministry, and Industry Ministry to ensure that existing regulations are optimally implemented and familiarized among the public," Abdul Halim, executive director of the Maritime Study Center for Humanity, had stated on November 29, 2018.

The ministry should also establish cooperation with industries to draft a road map to reduce plastic waste, he added.

He further suggested that the government should also offer incentives to industries applying plastic-free trade or business innovation.

It takes more than 500 years to degrade plastic. Plastic use should therefore be reduced in order to prevent plastic waste from polluting the ocean.
 

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