Swimming through a mesmerizing view of coral reefs that flourish in the Indonesian ocean is indeed every diver’s dream. Sitting at the epicenter of the Coral Triangle Area, Indonesia possesses over 580 species of corals, which make up 75% of our global marine biodiversity. Due to its 51,000 km2 area of coastlines and warm tropical climate, Indonesian sites managed to prevail as one of the world’s favorite all-year-round diving destinations. Oftentimes, the economic development of tiny islands in Indonesia is dependent heavily on the marine tourism industry, generating income from attracting thousands of tourists per year. However, apart from improving the welfare of coastal communities, these crowded visitors can take a toll on our marine ecosystem if not properly regulated.
To maximize the effort of its marine development, the Indonesian government has enacted seven pillars of regulation to pursue its vision to become the World’s Maritime Axis, as stated in Presidential Regulation No. 16 of 2017 about Indonesian Marine Regulation. One of the pillars is Managements of Marine Space and Protections of Marine Environment, which highlights the point that safety and sustainability should always be our principles while enjoying the beauty of reefs and other sea creatures. Therefore, even though all divers and snorkelers around the world are warmly invited to explore Indonesian breath-taking sea sceneries, they are also urged to develop reef-friendly etiquettes that are necessary to protect our biodiversity from the undesired impacts of marine tourism.
1. Perform proper diving or snorkeling protocols
Practice before diving into the marine environment to ensure that we understand how to regulate our breathing, stay afloat, and navigate the changes in water pressure and ocean’s current under sea level. Several prominent skills can be refined by having a proper diver’s training, including stability, buoyancy, trim, balance, and propulsion.
2. Make sure all supporting equipment is secure and safe for the environment
Take out any harmful material or chemical products when entering the sea to protect ourselves and the ecosystem. Use the right type and size of personal protective equipment (PPE) which complies with the standards. Apply a sunscreen product with the right amount of SPF and free from chemicals on the ‘HEL LIST’.
3. Maintain a safe distance from the ecosystem
Keeping our distance can protect the reef from any residual water current and sand flow from our movements. Stay away and be cautious when swimming near shallow areas to minimize possible physical impacts on the reef.
4. Avoid any physical contact with coral reefs and other marine life
As tempting as it may be, keep away from the urge to touch, brush, or collect any part of sea creatures. Do not stand or rest on corals, and do not feed or catch other animals without professional assistance. Refrain from provoking any aggressive behavior of the wildlife, as they can either harm us or harmed by us through forceful contact.
Despite the occasional campaign to promote these etiquettes, visitors in the field often need to be constantly guided and reminded to perform ocean-friendly behaviors for protecting our marine ecosystem. Hence, CarbonEthics strongly believes in promoting continuous and sustainable education through a community-based conservation model, placing Indonesian coastal communities as the front gate of our coral reef conservation. Even though preventive and precautionary measures are already in place, we are still conducting initiatives to actively restore and repair damaged environments from either human activities or natural courses, by promoting the Carbon Offset and Carbon Eco Trip programs.
“Menata Ruang Laut Indonesia” Book by The Coordinating Ministry for Maritime and Investment Republic of Indonesia, 2021.
“Reef Etiquette” Article on Florida Keys National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Website. https://floridakeys.noaa.gov/onthewater/etiquette_text.html
“Diver’s Training” Article on The Global Underwater Explorers Website. https://www.gue.com/diver-training
“Protect Land+Sea Certification” Article on Haereticus Environmental Laboratory Website. https://haereticus-lab.org/protect-land-sea-certification-3/