07/09/2008, 00.00
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Coral reefs survive tsunami, endangered by pollution

One of the most picturesque marine areas along Indonesia’s coastline could disappear as a result of indiscriminate fishing and pollution. An environmentalist with the country’s Wildlife Conservation Society calls for greater co-ordination between national and local authorities and tighter enforcement of conservation policies.
Jakarta (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Despite surviving the devastating 2004 tsunami, coral reefs around the Indonesian province of Aceh are facing a different threat from pollution and reef fishing. Human activities like unrestrained fishing and the dumping of toxic waste are threatening the survival one of the most picturesque nature reserve areas in the country.

Scientists and environmentalists have raised the alarm after analysing the state of the coral reefs in the wake of the 2004 tsunami. They found that there was no change in Aceh's coral cover directly following the tsunami; never the less, the province’s reefs were in poor shape from decades of net and blast fishing and from ocean pollution.

For Indonesia's Wildlife Conservation Society's Yudi Herdiana, damage to the reef is mainly man-made.

“The damage from the tsunami is quite patchy, the damaged reef in some particular areas is mainly caused by previous human activities such as dynamite fishing or net fishing,” he said.

Pollution from the provincial capital, Banda Aceh, is also another major factor.

Two management programmes, a province-run scheme and one managed by the central government, are in place, but for Dr Herdiana there is need for better co-ordination between Indonesia's national and local conservation authorities, the creation of more marine protected areas, and tighter enforcement of conservation policies.

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