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1 . Indonesia     Indonesia
Indonesia is the world’s largest coral reef nation, with over 50 000 square kilometers of reefs (17 percent of the world total), extending nearly 5 000 kilometers from east to west, and harboring over 17000 islands (including rocks and sandbanks). It touches on both the Indian and Pacific Oceans as well as many seas, including the Andaman, Java, South China, Sulawesi, Banda and Arafura Seas. This same country has a vast array of coral reefs, many poorly described or completely unknown, while it completely straddles the region with the greatest reef biodiversity in the world. For the purposes of this account the physical and biological descriptions are subdivided into a number of geographic sub-units, however human and socio-economic issues are considered together for the entire country.

Despite the vast area of the Indonesian Archipelago and the lack of detailed information about its reef communities, the majority of its coastal area is already heavily utilized, particularly in the west, and considerable areas are under increasing stress from human activities. About 6 000 of Indonesia’s islands are inhabited, and marine and coastal resources and activities generate 25 percent of the country’s gross domestic product. One study along the west coast of Lombok made a detailed assessment of coral reef value, particularly looking at fisheries production, but also at tourism, mariculture, ornamental trade and other resources. The estimated value of the reefs in the area was US$5 800 per hectare. This same coastline was utilized by 7 100 fishermen and over 35 percent of
their fish catch came from coral reefs.

Fisheries are a major activity, and it has been estimated that 60 percent of protein consumption is derived from fisheries. About 90 percent of all fisheries are artisanal, with products for local consumption or for sale in local markets. Unfortunately overfishing is widespread and is almost continuous in all regions from Sulawesi westwards. In addition a number of destructive fishing practices, blast and cyanide fishing amongst them, are employed in all areas, including many remote reefs and atolls. Blast fishing, in particular, is having an extremely detrimental effect across the country. Although illegal since 1985, few places have escaped it, even in protected areas. The total cost of this fishery to the country, in terms of long-term fishery losses and loss of tourist income, has been estimated at US$3 billion over the 20 years from 1999. Indonesia is the largest supplier of live food fish to the Asian markets with large vessels operating among the more remote reefs, and mostly using cyanide (although illegal since 1995). Muro-ami fishing has significant impacts in a number of areas, including Kepulauan Seribu. This involves the use of large nets and large groups of fishers, often children, who swim with poles or rocks on ropes and smash the reef surface to frighten fish up into the nets. The impacts of trawling on submerged reef systems are less well known, in part because the location and extent of these reefs is unknown.

Collection of fish and corals for export in the ornamental and aquarium trade is considerable. Indonesia is the world’s largest exporter of corals under the regulations of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Reaching well over 1 000 tons of coral per year in the early 1990s and now exporting around 500 tons per year, Indonesia has provided approximately 41 percent of all coral exports worldwide since 1985. These exports are relatively low on a unit-area basis because of the very large coral reef area in the country, but they may have localized impacts.

Coastal development causes considerable problems, particularly in the western half of the country. Extensive deforestation has greatly exacerbated the natural influences of freshwater and sediment discharge on reef growth and condition, and these impacts are continually expanding to new areas. Urban and industrial pollution is widespread, entering coastal areas through rivers and discharge pipes. In 1998 it was reported that there was no sewage treatment plant in any major coastal city. Agricultural development is leading to increased inputs of nutrients and chemicals, and their effects are now widely apparent. In a gradient across the Spermonde Archipelago, for example, there is a rapid decline in biodiversity and coral cover closely linked with proximity to the highly polluted coastline approaching Makassar. Coral cover at 68 kilometers distance from the town is over 65 percent, dropping to 14 percent at 1.3 kilometers. Mangroves have been widely removed, often for the development of shrimp ponds, but also for commercial woodchip or pulp production, or due to general overexploitation by growing coastal populations. Coral mining is also common, with corals being used for various purposes including building (houses, road foundations, sea walls and jetties), to lime production (for mortar), and decorative use both within the country and for export.

Tourism is now important in many areas, and is itself responsible for a range of problems, particularly associated with the developments on small coral cays. Impacts include land reclamation, dredging of lagoons and mangrove clearance. A large number of the islands in Kepulauan Seribu have been modified in this way. At the same time tourism provides an alternate income source and may lead to the reduction of fishing pressures in some locations. Although there are many protected areas in Indonesia, they do not provide a good network for the vast area of reefs, nor do they yet reach the 300 000 square kilometer goal set by the government for 2000. Most of the existing sites lack comprehensive management and, in many, their conservation value is reported to be rapidly deteriorating.
Source: Spalding, M.D., C. Ravilious and E.P. Green , 2001 , World Atlas of Coral Reefs . Prepared at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre. University of California Press,Berkeley,USA.421p. (See Document)

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