Makassar (ANTARA) - The Makassar Naval Base (Lantamal VI) and the coastal city's seaport authorities have collaborated to clean up marine debris littering the sea waters around the port's area by implementing a labor-intensive program.

"We share a similar vision to tackle the menace of marine litter, which has become a serious problem for many developing countries, including Indonesia," Colonel Suratun, a senior officer at the main naval base, told ANTARA in Makassar on Thursday.

In addition to the labor-intensive program, the naval base and seaport authorities are training community groups to serve as supervisors to monitor the cleanup efforts, he revealed.

Suratun emphasized that the waste problem remains a serious threat to developing countries, such as Indonesia.
"The growing population and consumption patterns of urban and rural communities have contributed to the rise of this waste problem," he pointed out.

This problem was also attributed to the low public awareness of the importance of proper handling of waste. Hence, as part of their responsibility to keep the Makassar Seaport area clean, the labor-intensive program was implemented, he remarked.

The cleanup efforts will not merely be focused on the marine debris around Makassar Seaport but also the waste found in rivers, he revealed.

The menace of marine debris has continued to plague Indonesia over the past decades. Last year, the country had borne witness to a grim reality, with the recent death of a sperm whale after ingesting almost six kilograms of plastic waste.

The news of the ill-fated sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus), whose carcass washed ashore on Kapota Isle, Wakatobi District, Southeast Sulawesi Province, on November 19, 2018, had grabbed the attention of several mainstream media within and outside the country.

This environmental tragedy, widely published and broadcast by the world's reputable news media, such as Associated Press, CNN, The Guardian, and National Geographic, is a glaring reminder of the fact that plastic waste has become a serious menace for Indonesia.

The marine debris has not just threatened the existence of Indonesia's marine life but it has also tarnished the image of its tourism industry.

In February 2016, Kuta Beach in the Indonesian resort island of Bali, for instance, had come under the glare of the local and global media for the varied trash washed up ashore this popular beach.

The image of unclean Kuta Beach was published by various print and electronic media, including "," which used the photograph for an article written by Thomas Wright, a PhD student of Australia's University of Queensland, dated 5/9/2017.

Wright pointed out that Indonesia was recorded as one of the world's main contributors to marine plastic pollution due to its polluted rivers and streams, which distributed some 200 thousand tons of plastic to the ocean every year.

Reporting by Muh. Hasanuddin, Rahmad Nasution

Translator: Rahmad Nasution
Editor: Gusti Nur Cahya Aryani
Copyright © ANTARA 2019