The Jakarta Post, Monday, June 11 2012
Coral Triangle Day promotes marine conservation
Cleanup: Local students participate in a beach cleanup activity held in Kedonganan to celebrate the Coral Triangle Day. BD/Anggara Mahendra
The first-ever Coral Triangle Day was celebrated in several locations around the Coral Triangle region, including Bali, on Saturday to raise awareness of the importance of marine conservation in the area with the highest marine biodiversity on earth.
This celebration brought together individuals, organizations and establishments from different parts of the region to promote the importance of oceans through varied activities, including beach clean-ups, sustainable seafood dinners, educational exhibitions, a marine-themed bazaar and carnival, and beach parties.
In Seminyak, award-winning chef Bobby Chinn took part with the rest of the region in celebrating the day by preparing sumptuous dishes using responsibly caught seafood in selected restaurants.
“Today is about celebrating the wonders of our oceans and what individuals can do to help protect it. As a chef, I would like to do my part by helping raise awareness on the importance of patronizing responsibly caught seafood and the many creative ways to enjoy them,” Chinn said.
In Kedonganan village, where the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) with its partners from Udayana University, the village’s local organization and some other institutions held a full-day celebration, Chinn visited the kitchens of 24 seafood restaurants located along the coast to discuss with the chefs and give tips on responsibly caught seafood. He called on the restaurant managements to be aware of how their suppliers caught the fish.
“I’m here for a good cause, not only for food, but for our future. We have to use more sustainable fish, and I want you to let the owners know that their businesses will do better when they know what they should serve and what fish are endangered, because if it runs out, we don’t have much more left,” he told a manager in one of the restaurants, while showing WWF’s list of the status of sea species.
Overfishing and destructive fishing are among the most pressing issues facing the Coral Triangle, which contains more than 3,000 species of reef fish. This region is also a nursery ground and migratory pathway for commercially valuable tuna species such as yellowfin, bigeye and skipjack, producing almost a fifth of the total global tuna catch.
However, impacts arising from overfishing and the use of destructive fishing practices have posed major challenges to the sustainability of Coral Triangle resources, on which more than 120 million people depend for food and livelihoods. Increasing demand for seafood from growing markets in Asia, North America and Europe are depleting the Coral Triangle’s fish stocks and heavily impacting its fragile marine ecosystems.
“Fish are being taken out of the seas faster than they can be replenished, and with highly destructive means. This is why we all need to be more conscious of the seafood on our plates and start asking questions on where they came from and how they were caught,” Bobby said.
Covering all or parts of the seas of six countries Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Timor Leste the Coral Triangle is the earth’s center of marine life, which hosts 76 percent of the world’s coral species and 37 percent of the world’s reef fish species, and shelters thousands of whales, dolphins, rays, sharks, as well as six of the world’s seven species of marine turtles.
Tragically, coastal development, destructive fishing, overfishing, unsustainable tourism and climate change are taking a heavy toll and, if left unchecked, will cause the collapse of this world’s most remarkable coral reef ecosystem.
“The marine ecosystem has a carrying capacity. We need to ensure that marine species are used sustainably, in a way that prevents their population from being depleted. Tourism and coastal development should also take this carrying capacity into account,” said Efransjah, CEO of WWF Indonesia.
In Sanur, the Coral Triangle Center (CTC) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) also joined hundreds of individuals and partners in this celebration across the region, by hosting a marine conservation education day in an open house event in CTC’s office. They invited school children aged 8–15 years old to learn about the importance of healthy seas with marine scientists.
CTC executive director Rili Djohani said that the center was happy to open its door to the young generation. “We believe that capacity building should start with the young, an important investment to ensure that future generations safeguard their rich marine life for sustainable benefits,” she said, adding that the activity would also instill pride in being the custodians of the Coral Triangle.
By: Desy Nurhayati