Antara / Irwansyah Putra / The Jakarta Post

Indonesia - Why Effective Marine Protected Areas Matter

Indonesia is the largest archipelagic nation in the world with 17,504 islands, a coastline of 108,000 kilometers, and 15.8 percent (27,255 square km) of the world’s coral reefs.

Its economy and food security for the majority of its 270 million people are closely linked to marine and coastal resources. Currently, around 70 percent of the country’s protein sources come from fish, and nearly 20 percent of the gross domestic product comes from fisheries and other marine-related industries, according to the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry.

Indonesia’s most diverse and rich marine life can be found in its eastern region, in the heart of the Coral Triangle, a vast tropical marine area including the waters of several nearby countries. The Coral Triangle houses nearly 600 reef building corals and over 2,000 species of reef fish, making it a true marine biodiversity hotspot.

To provide for its citizens and protect the globally significant biodiversity found in Indonesian waters, the nation must strengthen the sustainable management of its valuable marine resources.

While the government prioritizes conserving and managing its marine resources, the process is complicated and requires an indepth understanding by those responsible in government and its partners for it to succeed. There is progress toward effective marine conservation in Indonesia but much more needs to be done given existing threats to fisheries and the pending threat of climate change to marine habitats.

The coastal habitats in Indonesia are being exploited beyond their capacity from overfishing by more fishers using more efficient fishing gears, and coral reefs are being damaged from illegal and destructive fishing methods. These habitat losses are caused by lack of protection and management, which require planning and implementation of marine protected areas (MPAs) and other measures.

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