Indonesia kicks off year-long campaign to save the ocean

Indonesia’s Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries is holding the Bulan Cinta Laut (Love the ocean month) (BCL) to campaign for the protection of marine resources.  To kick the event off in the Mandeh area, Pesisir Selatan Regency, West Sumatra, the authority has organized an underwater photography and videography tournament from August 17 to 19.  

The tournament is also a celebration of the 77th anniversary of the independence of the Republic of Indonesia, as well as to launch the BCL nationally in October. On the first day, there will be a flag ceremony held underwater.  The year-long BCL will run in a different region for one month each.

The minister of maritime affairs and fisheries, Sakti Wahyu Trenggono, initiated the Blue Economy Program, of which BCL is part of.

Special assistant to the minister Doni Ismanto on August 6 said: “The tournament in Mandeh aims to bring together all stakeholders to bring the message of the importance of protecting ocean diversity to a wider public.  Mandeh is a suitable venue as it is beautiful and is home to the MV Boelongan Nederland, which sank during World War II.  Under the Blue Economy Program, we want to educate the public that it is possible to earn a living from the ocean while preserving marine diversity.”

The governor of West Sumatra, Buya Mahyeldi, and Regent of Pesisir Selatan Rusma Yul Anwar gave their full support for the event.  They said the event could promote Mandeh as a tourist region while highlighting the various problems the ocean is facing, especially plastics waste and other trash.

The director-general of marine spatial management, Victor Gustaaf Manoppo, said that there is high concern with regards to the lack of proper waste management.  On a scale of 0 to 1 for the Environmental Indifference Behavior Index, 1 being the highest, Indonesia scored 0.72.

Manoppo said: “This means that our level of disregard for waste management is quite high. This lack of awareness and disregard for proper waste management is what triggers and accelerates the flow of garbage into the sea.” 

He added that besides harming the marine species, plastics waste in the form of microplastics, which is a risk to human health, is also being consumed by humans through the food chain.  The national government cannot protect the ocean alone, he said, and will need the cooperation of the public and all other stakeholders, including local governments, NGOs, and the business industry.  Ultimately, he hoped that protecting the ocean can become a way of life, a habit and a culture for all Indonesians.

Photo credit: iStock/ Irfan Fuadi

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