Minister lays cornerstone for construction of Marine Conservation School

Wakatobi, SE Sulawesi (ANTARA News) - Marine Affairs and Fisheries Minister Fade Muhammad laid the first cornerstone for the construction of a School for Marine Conservation (SMC) here Saturday.

The management of marine conservation area as a genetic source and biodiversity which can become food source, should be the responsibility of both the government and the public, Minister Fadel said in his remarks.

"Wakatobi is one of the national marine parks which has been inaugurated in 1996, with a total area of 1,39 million hectares. Thanks to its biodiversity and rich coral reef, the area has been given the highest priority position in the Indonesian marine conservation," he said.

The national park has 25 clusters of coral reef, 600-km long coastal line, 112 species of coral reef from 13 families, and 93 species of fish.

The planned school is expected to become a benchmark of similar marine schools in Indonesia, and will have three departments, namely Conservation Management, Biodiversity, and Ocean Engineering.

SMC would be able to accommodate 400 students, around 2,000 training course participants, and have 50 lecturers, the minister said.

Indonesia is one of the world`s largest maritime countries with about 5.8 million square kilometers of marine territory. It is the biggest archipelagic country in the world, with around 70% of its territory is water and has 17,480 islands.

The government plans to increase the nation`s marine conservation area to 20 million hectares by 2020, from the present 13.5 million hectares.

"To manage the marine conservation area properly and accountably, the nation will need competent and professional human resources. By 2020, some 5,000 personnel will be needed to managed the conservation area," he said.

Also present in the first cornerstone laying ceremony were Coordinating Minister for People`s Welfare Agung Laksono, Southeast Sulawesi Governor Nur Alam, and Wakatobi District Head Hugua.(*)