The reefs need help

We are anchored just off a spectacular reef and did several dives right under the boat. The coral formations here are breathtaking and we are seeing some fish, albeit small.

Indonesia is the tale of too many people trying to live off the sea. The population is huge; estimates exceed 200 million on a chain of small islands. There is really no industry and the sea just cannot support the population yet there is not much being done to stop the over fishing. One of the most alarming practices is the dynamiting of the pristine coral reefs to kill every fish in the area. Evidence of this can be seen everywhere. We hear the government is taking strong action to stop it and, if caught, the penalties are severe.

I talked to our dive guide, a well educated young doctor, who had a real interest in solutions. We discussed programs I have worked on in the states for conservation. Indonesia is a real challenge but the rewards would be big and fast if the devastation can be reversed. You have to wonder how desperate for food you would have to be to destroy any chance of every being able to fish in an area again and killing every living thing in your own back yard.

On our side, we all wished we could use mooring buoys here rather than anchor. There is simply no place to anchor that is not on coral. I am going to contact a foundation that works on moorings for dive sites and see if they have any interest. A few well placed moorings would bring many more cruising boats, each of which is an economic boom to these remote villages so desperate for income.

Indonesia is ground zero for marine preservation. The situation is tragic, the will to change is here with a few good souls, the need is immediate and the rewards would be big.