Indonesia: A New Hope for Seribu Island’s Reefs

Provided by Silvianita Timotius, Idris, Mikael Prastowo, and Estradivari, The Indonesian Coral Reef Foundation (Yayasan TERANGI)

Pulau Seribu is a group of 105 islands off of Jakarta, Indonesia and is one of the few coral reef ecosystems that lie in close proximity to a capital city. Jakarta is home to more than 8.5 million people and is currently the 12th largest city in the world. The District Administration of Seribu Islands manages 80 percent the archipelago, while the remaining 20 percent falls within the Seribu Islands Marine National Park. The ecosystem is includes 193 coral species,1 174 reef fish species, and important hawksbill turtle nesting sites. Coral reefs, through fishing, tourism, and aquaculture, play a vital role in the region’s economy.

While proximity to the capital city brings economic benefits to the islands, it can also create ecological problems. Since the 1970s this valuable ecosystem has been threatened by destructive fishing methods such as blast and poison fishing and trawling,2 as well as pollution from solid waste, heavy metal, oil, and sediment. In addition, bleaching events in 1983 and 1998 resulted in 50 to 90 percent coral mortality.3

In response to these impacts, in 2002 the District Administration, Seribu Islands Marine Park, community members, and NGOs started developing management measures to assist reef recovery. Measures included implementing coral transplantation programs, installing fish aggregation devices to move fishing pressure from the reefs,4 and encouraging non-destructive fishing techniques. Indirect measures involved efforts to create alternative livelihoods for the community through substitute aquacultures, community-based ecotourism, and increased environmental education and awareness. Community stakeholder associations were introduced to represent key groups such as eco-tourism operators, ornamental fish harvesters, aquaculture, and the youth science club.

Since 2002, there have been signs of reef recovery. Based on surveys carried out by the Indonesian Coral Reef Foundation (TERANGI) in 2007, average coral cover reached up to 30 percent5, which is an improvement over a 1995 survey showing 17 percent cover.6 In addition, ornamental fish species that had previously disappeared before 2000 due to overharvesting were observed on the reef. These management measures, implemented over the last nine years, encourage optimism for threatened reefs worldwide.

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  1. Moll, H. & Suharsono. Distribution, Diversity and Abundance of Reef Corals in Jakarta Bay and Kepulauan Seribu. Human induced damaged to coral reefs: Results of regional UNESCO (COMAR) workshop with advanced training. UNESCO reports in Marine Science 40, 112-125 (1986). 
  2. Ongkosongo, O. S. R. Some Harmful Stresses to the Seribu Coral Reefs, Indonesia in Proceedings of Mab-Comar Regional Workshop on Coral Reef Ecosystems: Their Management Practices and Research/Training Needs, 4 -7 March 1986 (ed S. Soemodihardjo) (UNESCO: MAB-COMAR and Indonesian Institute of Science, 1986).
  3. Brown, B. E. S. Damage and Recovery of Coral Reefs Affected by El Nino Related Seawater Warming in the Thousand Islands, Indonesia. Coral Reefs 8, 163 – 170 (1990); Warwick, R. M., K. R. Clarke & Suharsono. A Statistical Analysis of Coral Community Responses to the 1982-83 El Nino in the Thousand Islands, Indonesia. Coral Reefs 8, 171-179 (1990).
  4. Sudin Perikanan dan Kelautan Kabupaten Administratif Kepulauan Seribu. Budidaya Dan Pelestarian Perairan Kepulauan Seribu Dki Jakarta. (Sudin Perikanan dan Kelautan Kabupaten Adminstratif Kepulauan Seribu, Jakarta, 2008).
  5. Terumbu Karang Jakarta: Pengamatan Jangka Panjang Terumbu Karang Kepulauan Seribu (2004-2005). (Yayasan TERANGI, Jakarta, 2007).
  6. DeVantier, L. et al. Status of Coral Communities of Pulau Seribu, 1985-1995 in Contending with Global Change. Study No. 10. Proceedings of the Coral Reef Evaluation Workshop Pulau Seribu, Jakarta, Indonesia 11-20 September 1995 (ed S. Soemodihardjo) (UNESCO, 1998).
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