Jakarta (Antara News) - The Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries and Food Security (CTI-CFF), a partnership of six countries formed in 2007, finally has a permanent secretariat in Manado, North Sulawesi, Indonesia.

The permanent secretariat, called the CTI Center, was the creation of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyonos commitment to the preservation of coral reefs in the region, Indonesian Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Sharief Cicip Sutardjo said when accompanying Vice President Boediono on a tour of the CTI Center compound.

During the tour, Vice President Boediono expressed his optimism that the CTI Center would be useful for carrying out coordination, facilitation, and collaboration among the six member countries of CTI: Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Timor Leste, Papua New Guinea, and the Solomon Islands.

Built on an area of 1.5 hectares and located at the Grand Kawanua International City, Manado, the CTI Center is expected to become a center for the studies of coral reef preservation efforts.

North Sulawesi Governor Sinyo Harry Sarundajang expressed his hope that with the presence of the CTI Center, the North Sulawesi provincial capital city of Manado would be recognized as the worlds capital of coral reefs.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, as the initiator of the CTI establishment, is scheduled to officially inaugurate the CTI Center in the near future.

Another coral-related icon of Manado is the Bunaken National Marine Park, which was formally established in 1991. The marine park, which is one of the worlds best-known marine parks, covers an area of 89,065 hectares, 97 percent of which is covered by sparkling clear and warm tropical water.

The waters of Bunaken National Marine Park harbor contain some of the highest levels of biodiversity in the world. The park has seven of the eight species of giant clams that exist in the world, as well as some 70 types of coral.

Manado is located in a strategic area, which is in the middle of the Coral Triangle region, and is home to more than 76 percent of all known coral species, 53 percent of the worlds coral reefs, and over 37 percent of coral reef fish species.

The CTI-CFF is primarily aimed at addressing the urgent threats facing the coastal and marine resources of one of the most biologically diverse and ecologically rich regions on earth.

The World Economic Forums Global Agenda Council on Governance for Sustainability, in the April 2014 edition of its monthly newsletter called Green Light, cited the CTI-CFF as a "model of success."

In the foreword, James Bacchus, the Councils Chairman, referred to the Initiative as "an exceptional example of a bottom-up approach to governing environmental issues."

The report included an interview with Naoko Ishii, the chief executive officer and chair of the Global Environment Facility (GEF), who identified a number of key features of the CTI-CFF as being essential to programs involving diverse stakeholders. Among the key features are political commitment, multi-stakeholder involvement, concrete programs, and private sector involvement.

Previously, in September 2012, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was bestowed with the first-ever "Valuing Nature Award" for leadership in recognizing the importance of natural resources and working to conserve them.

The award was presented by The Nature Conservancy, World Resources Institute and WWF - three leading global environmental and conservation organizations, specifically to recognize Yudhoyonos initiative to establish the multilateral CTI in 2007.

Marine Protected Area System

Following up on a consensus statement at the 12th International Coral Reef Symposium (ICRS) held in 2012 in Cairns, Queensland, Australia, Manado hosted the World Coral Reef Conference (WCRC) 2014, from April 13-17, 2014, organized by Indonesia, CTI-CFF and donor countries.

The WCRC was as a follow up to the World Ocean Conference (WOC) and the Coral Triangle Initiatives (CTI) summit, which was also held in Manado in 2009, that issues a Declaration of Manado, aimed at protecting and preserving coral reefs.

Some members of the CTI-CFF, during a workshop held as part of the WCRC, officially forged a framework for the Coral Triangle Marine Protected Area System (CTMPAS) and an action plan, in an effort to foster better marine and coastal area management and protection.

The CTMPAS is expected to ensure the prosperity of the coastal area communities by providing substantial economic benefits for people who live and depend on the natural resources in the region, the organizing committee of the conference said in a recent statement.

"This is in accordance with one of the establishments visions of creating CTMPAS new income and livelihood and making it more adequate, as well as providing a source of food for the community based on water resources, while preserving diversity of its biological resources," the secretary general of the Indonesian Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries and the chairman of the IRS (Interim Regional Secretariat/Interim Regional Secretariat) of CTI-CFF, Sjarief Widjaja, said.

Technically, CTMPAS will provide greater benefit to the community, both socially and economically, by increasing education opportunities, encouraging alternative livelihoods, helping develop culture and forging a better quality of life, as well as the active participation of the communities to manage and conserve the marine resources.

The CTMPAS is scheduled to be fully launched in 2020 in all of the member countries of the CTI-CFF. Each member of the CTI-CFF state has its own methods of management in running CTMPAS, which is in accordance with its bio-ecology, society, economy and culture, as well as the governance of its Marine Conservation Area, Sjarief added.

The Marine Protected Area (MPA) is a coastal marine area where the activities of the people who live and depend on the available resources in the region are managed and organized for the purpose of improving their lives and the welfare of their communities, as well as to ensure the conservation of biodiversity and culture that have developed in it.

The six CTI-CFF countries recently nominated 13 of their most important marine protected areas (MPAs) to the Coral Triangle Marine Protected Area System (CTMPAS). The nominated MPAs were Anambas Islands Marine Recreational Park, Wakatobi National Park, Pangumbahan Marine Turtle Park, and Savu Sea National Marine Park (Indonesia); Turtle Islands Park and Tun Mustapha Park (Malaysia); Kulungi Locally-Managed Marine Area (LMMA), Lolobau LMMA, and Tarobi LMMA (PNG); Tubbataha Reef National Park and Turtle Islands Wildlife Sanctuary (The Philippines); Zinoa Marine Conservation Area (the Solomon Islands); and Nino Konis Santana National Park (Timor Leste).

The CTMPAS is being developed as part of the six countries commitment under the CTI-CFF Regional Plan of Action for 2010-2020. Its launch is a major milestone after five years of work by the countries and their development partners, including the U.S. Agency for International Development, U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, The Nature Conservancy (TNC), World Wildlife Fund and Conservation International.

"There are nearly 2,000 MPAs at various levels of management effectiveness scattered across the Coral Triangle, and their benefits are fairly well recognized by all six countries. Individually, these countries are making some headway in increasing the benefits of marine and coastal protection over large areas within their boundaries," said Dr. Alan White, a senior scientist at TNC.

"But there is growing realization that current efforts are not sufficient to address issues related to, for example, protecting economically important trans-boundary species, and that regional cooperation is the next critical step to ensuring sustained benefits from these shared resources," he stated, as quoted in the official website of CTI-CFF in April 2014.

Reporter: Fardah
Editor: Fardah Assegaf
Copyright © ANTARA 2014