Environmental troubles in North Sulawesi pt. 2: rubbish and “land reclamation” in the Bunaken area

Environmental troubles in North Sulawesi pt. 2: rubbish and “land reclamation” in the Bunaken area

Land Reclamation in Manado

Plastic floating everywhere, “land reclamations”, intensive fishing, lot of divers: is that a correct management of a National Reserve?

Bunaken is a worldwide top diving destination and I’m very lucky to work here having the possibility to dive here everyday. Coral walls are astonishing and the biodiversity of species reach probably the top in the world.

Bunaken is surviving despite Manado government. Plastic garbage floating on the water is reaching alarming levels. Bags, bottles, shoes, even diapers float on the surface, especially after the weekend where local people go on the beach and let every kind of garbage on the sea. And despite that, the local government publicizes Manado as “Kota Ecowisata” – ecotourism city. Sometimes is really embarrassing diving and emerging in the middle of a garbage deposit.

Second aspect of the management of the area: the “Land Reclamation” (see the photo). All the big shopping centers in Manado are located on land reclamation areas: the older Megamall, the newer Manado Town Square (Mantos) and a third one, already bankrupted, with no shops inside. Tons and tons of concrete and coastline destruction and corals and biodiversity lost forever. Recently, an huge project of land reclamation in Kalasey, just on the south of Manado, has been blocked but after a large parte of the work has been done. Apparently there was something illegal in the permission, moreover the “environmental expert” of the project declared that just 7 species of fish live in the area. Maybe he’s just been visiting the local restaurants.

Of course, it is not finished, many other projects along the coast are “reclaiming land” despite there is a lot of unused land in the internal part. Even the building of a new aquarium (is that so necessary? is there not a real aquarium already underwater, that everybody can visit with a mask and a snorkel?) will be on artificial land.

Of course I understand that for local people fishing activity is a matter of life or death. But a shift towards an eco-compatible activity should be encouraged by the government. Already some fishermen start selling t-shirts (horribles, who’s the designer of this stuff?) to diver’s boat, and maybe they make more money with that that with the fish they capture. All the marine reserves worldwide (at least, the good ones, see the Medas Islands in Spain) are no-fishing areas.

Of course divers can do their part in increasing the environmental damage. The problems I found in Lembeh are present even here: people touching animals, moving, crashing on the wall.. The environmental conscience of many countries is absolutely absent, we have to be more firm and establish severe rules that should be followed. It should start from dive resort’s manager and owners. Money is money but it doesn’t mean that we have to allow customers do what they want.



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