Ecosistem in Raja Ampat Must Be Conserved
Raja Ampat Regency in West Papua has beautiful natural scenery, also a stretch of coral reefs and famous marine biota to foreign countries. This area is also a habitat for rare birds, such as king cockatoos and yellow crested, red parrots, maleo, and paradise.
Raja Ampat is a newly created regency from Sorong Regency, and officially became an autonomous region on April 12, 2003. The capital is Waisai, which is on Waigeo Island. The marine district which has 610 islands is rich in flora and fauna, and natural resources. However, the ecosystem is threatened with damage because of the rampant mining exploitation that does not care about the environment.
This district has an area of 46,292 km2 with a population of 27,071 inhabitants. About 85 percent of the area is ocean, only around 6,000 km2 is land. There are only four large islands, namely Misool, Salawati, Batanta, and Waigeo. Of the 610 islands, only 35 are inhabited.
As an archipelago, the only inter-island transportation and supporting community activities is sea transportation. To reach Waisai from Jakarta and other cities must first go to Sorong City by airplane, then continue to use motorboats for 2-3 hours.
In eastern Indonesia, Raja Ampat is included in the work area of the Coral Reef Rehabilitation and Management Program. Other areas are Selayar, and Pangkajene Kepulauan, South Sulawesi, Buton, Wakatobi, Southeast Sulawesi, Biak Numfor, Papua, and Sikka, East Nusa Tenggara.
The Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) conducted an ecological baseline study to obtain basic ecological data at the location in 2006. Data obtained was then evaluated by the funders (World Bank) who then suggested adding additional observation locations in the district this, along with the addition of villages, work areas, and socio-economic activities.
From the results of the coral baseline study, megabentos biota and reef fish in the waters of Raja Ampat, among others, it was concluded, the coral conditions in this region were in the category of poor to moderate. Almost all locations found traces of bombings to catch reef fish.
In these waters there are many reef fish. Of the 29 tribes of reef fish, six of them have the lowest abundance of individuals (each of six individuals per hectare), namely aulostomidae carcharhinidae, cirrithidae, lethirinidae, muraenidae, and tetraodontidae.
The potential of marine and coastal resources of Raja Ampat is quite abundant. The expanse of coral reefs in this area is very broad and rich in various types of fish, as well as other marine biota. This area also has a very beautiful beach and has the potential to be developed as a tourism asset.
The land area of Raja Ampat Regency also stores the potential of natural resources in the form of plantation crops, such as coconut, chocolate, and sago palm, even mining. The waters in South Waigeo District, West Waigeo, and Raja Ampat Regency are generally rich in potential marine resources of high economic value, so they are catching areas for fishermen from various regions, even from Thailand and the Philippines. These waters are vulnerable to the use of destructive types of fishing gear, such as trawling, bombs, and potassium poisons.
This area is rich in mining, especially nickel. Many companies get exploitation permits for a dozen years. Nickel is exported to a number of countries. Some areas have been polluted with the residual sand, so sea water becomes cloudy and causes coral damage and destroys other ecosystems, including various types of fish and shrimp.
Management of natural resource potential, especially marine resources in the waters of South Waigeo and West Waigeo is closely related to the socio-economic conditions of the population.
The life of the population is very dependent on the utilization of the potential of marine resources, although natural resources on land can be developed.
The LIPI study revealed that the income of residents in three villages in the District of South Waigeo and West Waigeo showed that the income of the population was relatively high, the average household income was around Rp 1 million and per capita Rp 280,000.
Household income from service activities reaches around Rp 954,000 and per capita Rp 254,000. The influence of the season on fishermen’s income is quite significant as seen from the difference in seasons. Fishermen’s income in the strong wave season has fallen dramatically to only one-fifth of revenue in the weak wave season.
In addition to the threat of environmental damage, all parties must also pay attention to the livelihoods and welfare of the local population