Now there is a Floating Coral Reef Restoration Demonstration

  • A large pontoon was used as a floating coral reef restoration demonstration plot in the Nusa Penida Marine Conservation Area (KKP) initiated by the Coral Triangle Center (CTC), UPTD KK Bali, Mission Blue and Quicksilver Cruise Bali.
  • This pontoon floating on a stretch of coral reef has become a kind of educational and recreational center for studying coral restoration techniques, from taking seeds to monitoring them.
  • The Coral Reef Restoration Demonstration Location will start in January 2024 and spans 30,980 square meters with an additional 1,000 square meters to the east of the Quicksilver Mega Ponton.
  • Currently, the condition of the corals in the Nusa Penida KKP is considered to be 60% good, and the rest is being targeted for restoration due to the impact of increased tourist activity on the islands which can be accessed in about a 45 minute crossing from Sanur Harbor.

Usually the location for coral reef demonstrations or demonstration plots is on land or the coast. Now there is a demonstration plot in the middle of the sea because it is located on a large pontoon belonging to a marine tourism company.

Various stages of restoration such as taking coral seeds, temporary storage, installation on structures, and lowering them to the seabed become more efficient. Not only that, education and monitoring can also be easily followed by snorkeling or diving. The equipment is also available on the pontoon.

This location was introduced earlier this year by a number of initiating parties. The Coral Triangle Center (CTC), together with the KK Bali Regional Technical Management Unit (UPTD) in collaboration with Mission Blue and Quicksilver Cruise Bali, have established a large-scale coral restoration demonstration site aimed at rehabilitating coral reefs.

Located near the port of Toya Pakeh, Nusa Penida, the determination of the Coral Reef Restoration Demonstration Location begins in January 2024. This location stretches over an area of ​​30,980 square meters with an additional 1,000 square meters to the east of the Quicksilver Mega Ponton.

A number of media were invited to visit on Thursday (01/02/2024) to the demonstration plot location, to coincide with restoration program activities involving dozens of school students and divers in Nusa Penida. In this restoration, it is planned to remove around 400 reef stars with 6,000 coral fragments installed over an area of ​​240 square meters.

Preparations were seen by taking the seeds in one of the locations which resembled a pool but was part of the sea at the pontoon location by a number of volunteer divers. Other assistants such as the CTC team and student volunteers prepared seed tubs, gloves, spider web-shaped structures made of iron that had been smeared with sand, tie cables for tying, and others.

One of the instructors brought a structure on a table and explained how to tie coral to the students who were involved in coral reef restoration. It is recommended that one structure contain only 15 corals so that growth is better and the maintenance process is easier. Within 10 minutes, these students nodded in understanding and were ready to tie the structure.

Each group can complete 3-5 structures in less than an hour. Coral cannot be left outside its habitat for long, therefore, in a short time the entire structure was transported quite easily onto a rubber boat which took it to the drop-off point. The divers are ready at the point to place them on the seabed.

The entire structure was connected to each other with iron stakes and large tie ropes, thus forming a new stretch of spider web. When looking at this process from the surface with a snorkel, it appears that they work quickly because they have shared tasks. Around it there are structures of various shapes covered with new recruit coral, for example fishdomes, statues, tables, and others.

A new stretch of Reef Stars structure appears on the seabed, some of which contains broken coral and gravel. This gravel surface is considered to be useful in making the structure stronger against the current.

The increase in maritime activity in the Nusa Penida marine conservation area also has negative impacts, especially without education and supervision. There have been a number of cases of coral destruction in these waters which are famous for Manta Rays and Mola-mola. For example, there is a pontoon boat that throws anchor, then damages a stretch of coral because the anchor moves with the current. There are also tourists stepping on coral when taking part in the Seawalk tour, walking in the sea while feeding fish and acts of vandalism, destroying coral reefs.

Tourist visits to Nusa Penida continue to increase, along with the presence of a number of new ports and more crossing schedules. If in previous years there were only 2-3 scheduled departures per day, now there are almost every hour. Tourists who only use sea transportation modes such as boats or phinisi ships can easily go back and forth from several tourist attraction locations such as Tanjung Benoa, Nusa Dua, Sanur, and others.

Restoration method

There are three types of coral that are used as seeds, the most common being Acropora. The method used is the Mars Assisted Reef Restoration System or MARRS at this location. This transplant method has a structure called Reef Star which is shaped like a star or spider web and is believed to be more stable and well connected. This method has been tested at several other points in Nusa Penida.

The MARRS method is said to be quite effective in increasing the number of natural coral recruits, is easy to lower to the seabed, and costs less to construct. However, CTC Marine Conservation Advisor, Marthen Welly, reminded that the application must comply with standards. MAARS was introduced by a chocolate company through its environmental social program and has trained a number of parties so that it can be replicated anywhere. Especially if the seabed is suitable.

The demonstration location in Toya Pakeh is said to be suitable for large-scale restoration efforts. For example, the depth ranges between 3-4 meters, the location is near the beach, making it easier to access nearby facilities, and the large pontoon location can accommodate many educational and recreational activities.

Over the past few years, coral reefs along the Toya Pakeh area have experienced widespread coral damage caused by strong waves, disease, coral bleaching, and other human activities. An ecological assessment carried out by the CTC in 2023 found that despite the damage, the site is an ideal place for restoration.

For example, there are healthy corals that can be used for restoration and can be easily accessed through diving or swimming. During the survey, herbivorous fish were also identified, including parrotfish and sandbar fish.

Marthen said that his party was preparing a mechanism for accessing this coral reef restoration demonstration for the parties. For example, you can contact UPTD KKP Bali Province or CTC. They will coordinate with the pontoon manager and volunteer team to prepare the program.

Extra diving for students

As the divers lowered the structure and tied it down, a number of students learned to snorkel around the pontoon. Some of these high school students cannot swim. It's no wonder some people scream in fear while studying even though they are wearing a life jacket .

Oka, an English teacher who accompanies students in various environmental activities, admits that this is one of the challenges for local children in Nusa Penida. Therefore, he welcomes various programs that encourage children to love the sea. One of them is a new diving extra-curricular at his school, SMAN 1 Nusa Penida. Supported by a dive center which provides trainers and facilities for free.

“There are still very few people interested in divers. We will only have extra diving collaborations with dive operators in 2023 . "We plan to create a maritime syllabus so that children love and learn about its assets," said Oka. He also often includes environmental issues in English material. He hopes that this demonstration plot will become the school's second lab.

One of the students who is very enthusiastic about swimming and using the pontoon is Komang Juwita, a class 11 girl. She is still afraid to take part in extra diving because she has heard of bad incidents. He himself has loved swimming since he was a child because he once helped his family become seaweed farmers in Nusa Lembongan.

Efforts to provide access to education and facilities such as snorkeling equipment can encourage their love of the sea. However, it needs to be subsidized. The opportunity exists because there are a number of tourist levies on land and sea in the Nusa Penida Marine Conservation Area (KKP).

Head of the Nusa Penida KKP UPTD, Nengah Sugiarta, said that currently his party is still having difficulty collecting marine tourism levies from tourists. Online application is not yet optimal. Currently the levy is IDR 100 thousand per person for foreign tourists and IDR 10 thousand for domestic tourists. As of January, the value is IDR 134 million. “There are many who escaped. "It's very difficult to collect directly," he said when meeting tour operators or groups of tourists directly.

Land-based levies are easier because they are port-based. Land levies are collected by the Regency Government, while sea levies are collected by the KKP UPT due to differences in authority.

Restoration collaboration

A number of other restoration projects in Nusa Penida have also been carried out by various communities, using different methods, and established in varying topographic locations. Coral reefs.

In early 2021, Coral Triangle Center (CTC) merged with Mars, Inc. to form a Coral Reef Restoration Task Force. Currently including representatives from CTC, Mars, Bali Blue Harmony and People and Nature Consulting International, the Task Force's mission is to build capacity for coral reef restoration and resilience-based management in marine protected areas (MPAs) across Indonesia.

In the future, representation is intended to expand to include other restoration practitioners as well as potential collaboration with governments, experts, and other key stakeholders. The project is supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies' Vibrant Oceans Initiative and Mission Blue.

Coral reefs in the Nusa Penida KKP support 296 species of coral and 576 species of fish. This location is an important habitat for marine megafauna, such as manta rays and sunfish. Region.

From the results of CTC mapping, 60% of the coral conditions in the Nusa Penida KKP are considered good, the remaining 40% are targeted for restoration. “Morale is high but there is no scientific guidance and monitoring. We want to create a demonstration plot restoration area that meets standards as a place for learning. In the future, Nusa Penida can become a place for global learning. "Because this area is suitable for restoration," said Marthen.

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