Tomini Gulf Affected by Damage: Central Sulawesi
Tomini Gulf is one of the biggest bays in Indonesia, bordering 13 regencies in the Gorontalo and Central Sulawesi provinces. The bay hosts 56 islands — called the Togean Islands — which are spread over 90 kilometers at the center of Tomini gulf.
Among them are six big islands including Batulada, Talatakoh, Togean, Una-Una, Waleabahi and Waleakodi. The others include beautiful, small islands surrounding the six larger ones and all are continually visited by European tourists.
Based on a biodiversity zone division, Tomini Gulf is located in the Wallacea zone — which is historically separate from Asian and Australian continents. The name Wallacea is after the English researcher Alfred Russel Wallace, who explored eastern Indonesia in 1854-1862.
The bay is famous for its underwater beauty and is perceived as a heaven for divers — it’s said to be a home to many coral reefs and various colorful species of fish. But as always, it is the imposement of humans that has ‘overloaded’ this precious area and put it in peril as Ruslan Sangadji continues to explain:
Parigi Moutong Regent Longky Djanggola said recently that in 2003 former president Megawati Soekarnoputri declared Tomini Gulf the gate of “Mina Bahari”.
Parigi said the gulf area was a mainstay for increasing state income, as well as for providing more jobs for local people.
The Sulawesi Regional Development Cooperation Office, or Badan Kerjasama Pembangunan Regional (BKPRS), reported however that some gulfs in Sulawesi, including Tomini Gulf, had been damaged by excessive development.
The damaged areas reported included coral reefs, mangrove forests and the banks of rivers that emptied into the Tomini Gulf.
The most obvious damage could be found in Togean Island National Park in Tojo Una-Una regency, Central Sulawesi, said the BKPRS.
Data from the provincial planning board indicated 8.7 percent of coral reefs, 4.6 percent of algae and 5.11 percent of mangrove forests had been damaged.
Tojo Una-Una Regent Damsik Ladjalani said the damage was caused by illegal fishing and local habits that included throwing garbage into the sea.
And he said this was despite efforts by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), which has declared Tomini Gulf one of world’s treasures in need of protection because it has valuable marine assets.
The Central Sulawesi administration reported the local sea produced about 330,000 tons of fish each year, of which 214,000 tons was processed annually.
Fishermen seek pelagis fish, tuna and oil (cakalang) fish, along with shrimp, seaweed, sea cucumbers and pearls.