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Comprehensive efforts needed to save coral reefs: Indonesia expert

By Cundoko Aprilianto (Xinhua)

10:52, September 22, 2011

JAKARTA, Sept. 21 (Xinhua) -- Comprehensive efforts are needed to save coral reefs as their living compound is prone to environmental damage, an Indonesian expert told Xinhua in an exclusive interview on Tuesday.

Nurul Dhewani Mirah Sjafrie, coordinator of Coral Reef Information and Training Center (CRITC) for western Indonesia at the Indonesian Science Institute, the government think-tank institution, said that currently only more than five percent of coral reefs in Indonesia are in "excellent condition."

"Based on monitoring of the thousands of observation stations we have, the rest are in damage, bad and moderate condition," Sjafrie said in her office.

She said that it is not impossible to increase the number as long as all people are aware of the importance to save coral reefs.

"People should be aware that coral reefs live in sea with warm enough temperature of 18-25 Celsius degree with certain level of brightness, among others. If the requirements are fulfilled, we can see coral reef growing safely," said Sjafrie.

She also said it needs upstream-to-downstream arrangement to support the efforts.

"For example, in western Indonesia, we have many big rivers. If illegal logging practice keeps continuing, it will cause sedimentation in the sea. It means there is a decreasing quality. So, coral reef salvation is not only conducted in ocean," Sjafrie said.

She also expressed concern that many people dump garbage in rivers.

"They throw their garbage in plastic bags. For plastic only, it takes 100 years to be completely decomposed. Let's say 10-15 percent of our people do the malpractice everyday, you can imagine how many garbage entering the sea," she said.

Sjafrie said that the key to guard coral reef sustainability is in human habit.

"Coral reef destruction could be caused by nature such as tsunami, earthquake, crown torn (Acanthaster plancii) that consumes coral reefs. But the biggest factor is human with their destructive fishing using bombs," she said.

According to Sjafrie, people do the practice with three causes, namely ignorance, needs and greed.

She added that efforts have been conducted by the government, private sector and non governmental organizations (NGOs) to save coral reefs.

"We have a program called the CORMAP of Coral Reef Rehabilitation and Management Program. The government uses instrument of National Program of People Empowerment while NGOs do their part. If we could combine the actions, we could reach the same goal," she said.

She added that the government train people to be productive by providing skills and in the same time, her organization and NGOs socialize and campaign the importance of coral reefs.

"When people have better jobs and activities and they are equipped with the awareness, they will do positive thing and stop destroying the sea," Sjafrie said.

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