Fardah Antara 28 Mar 16;
Jakarta (Antara News)- With over 17 thousand islands, Indonesia is the largest and most varied archipelago on Earth and spans over 5,000 equatorial kilometres between Asia and Australia.
Its total coastline extends over 80,000 km, close to one third of the Earths circumference at the equator.
So, it is not surprising if Indonesian waters have an exceptionally high whale and dolphin diversity.
Twenty nine different cetacean species inhabit these waters, several of which are rare and endangered, according to APEX Environmental, an environmental organization with extensive expertise in oceanic whale and dolphin surveys, and cetacean ecology research.
More than one third of all known whales and dolphins species worldwide can be found in Indonesian waters, according to APEX, whose Indonesian Oceanic Cetacean Program (IOCP) has conducted research in Bunaken, Tua Marine Park and Sangihe Talaud in North Sulawesi, and Komodo National Park in East Nusa Tenggara (NTT).
Indonesias tropical cetaceans include Spinner, Spotted, Indo-pacific Bottlenose, Frasers and Rough-toothed Dolphins, as well as Melon-headed, False Killer, Pygmy Killer Whales and Edens Whale.
NTTs traditional whale hunting community in Lamalera, on the south coast of the island of Lembata, and Lamakera in neighbouring Solor, are the most famous and last two remaining Indonesian whaling communities.
The people in Lamalera hunt sperm whale and orca. The hunters have religious taboos that ensure that they use every part of the animal. About half of the catch is kept in the village; the rest is traded in local markets, using barter system.
The only species of whale which is not hunted is the blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus), because according to local folklore, the blue whale once rescued a family in Lamalera and is considered holy.
The whale-hunts are carried out in a traditional manner, with bamboo spears and using small wooden outriggers, 10-12 m long and 2 m wide, constructed without nails and with sails woven from palm fronds.
The animals are killed by the harpooner leaping onto the back of the animal from the boat to drive in the harpoon.
The World Wildlife Fund has carried out surveys in the village to determine that the limited hunting does not endanger world whale stocks or other endangered species.
Given the fact that East Nusa Tenggara has a huge potential to develop whale watching tourism, the government is planning to promote whale-watching tourism internationally.
"As long as I know, the province has 10 species of whale. Please do me a favor and promote it," Safri Burhanuddin, deputy of the Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs, said in Kupang, NTT, recently.
Various species of whale and the unique traditions and culture in the province could woo tourists, he said.
He instructed the local maritime and fishery office to monitor the best locations and time for whale watching activities.
East Nusa Tenggara Governor Frans Lebu Raya has lauded the plan to promote whale migration sites to boost tourist arrivals in the province.
"We have urged a whale researcher from Australia to map the whale migration route and schedule," the governor noted, and made a reference to Benjamin Kahn, a cetacean researcher and director of the Coral Triangle Oceanic Cetacean Program for APEX Environmental.
Kahn is an Adjunct Research Fellow in the Centre of Marine Science and Technology at Curtin University in Perth, Western Australia.
The scientist first worked with Oceanic Society in 2015 aboard "Raja Ampat: Snorkeling and Whale Watching expedition."
Benjamin Kahns research showed that whales migrate from the Australian waters to the NTT waters, especially to the Lamalera waters, where the fishermen hunt these species, he explained.
However, the research conducted by Kahn has yet to reveal precisely when the whales migrated from other sites to the Indonesian waters, the governor said.
"Whale migration will be a new tourist attraction in order to realize the potential of NTT as a tourist province," Raya stated.
The provincial administration needed to intensify its promotional activities to introduce this unique tourism attraction, the governor emphasized.
He suggested that an international seminar on whale fishing during the hunting season, which takes place from May to October, be organized as a promotional event.
Besides NTT, Raja Ampat Islands located in West Papua Province is also an amazing site to watch whales and dolphins.
Oceanic Society has planned another unique cruise experience that combines high-tech whale watching with snorkeling Raja Ampats outstanding marine ecosystems in February 2017.
"Weve teamed up with local experts to bring you this top-notch marine wildlife cruise. Oceanic Society travelers will gain 20+ years of local knowledge as we partner with the experts of the Pindito, one of the original live-aboard ships of Raja Ampat. This program is tailor made to offer our guests unrivaled opportunity to locate and possibly snorkel with whales and dolphins, including orcas, pilot whales, sperm whales, Brydes whales and more," the Oceanic society said on its website. ***1***
Indonesia steps up marine tourism promotions
Andi Abdussalam Antara 28 Mar 16;
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Being the worlds largest island country with over 17 thousands islands and 54,716 kilometer coastal lines, Indonesia is rich in beautiful isles, beaches and such underwater resources as coral reefs, fish and other sea biota.
These potential resources are scattered in various regions across the country, offering greatest chances for the government to tap their commercial benefit through tourism development.
Therefore, according to Hari Untoro Dradjat expert staff for maritime affairs of the Tourism Ministry, the government is intensifying the development of tourism in various regions.
He said in Denpasar, Bali on Tuesday (March 22) that the government now focuses the development of its tourism in the regions.
"In the tourist resort island of Bali alone, there are 16 tourism regions, five special tourism areas and 151 tourist destinations," Dradjat told a seminar on tourism in Denpasar on Tuesday.
Thus, the government which has set a target to attract 12 million foreign tourist arrivals this year and 20 million by 2019, is also intensively promoting its tourism, particularly marine tourism, through various activities such as festivals, expositions, yacht-sail races and others.
It is admitted that Indonesia is best for its undersea world with various beautiful diving destinations such as Raja Ampat in West Papua; Bunaken in Manado (North Sulawesi); Lembeh Bitung in Lombok (West Nusa Tenggara/NTB); Labuan Bajo in East Nusa Tenggara (NTT); Wangi-Wangi, Kaledupa, Tomia and Binongko in Wakatobi (Southeast Sulawesi); and Morotai as well as Halmahera in Ambon (Maluku).
Indonesia has thousands of places of this kind that are scattered across the country from Sabang in Aceh Province to Marauke in Papua Province.
The government therefore, is also active in promoting the countrys tourism through its "Wonderful Indonesia" logo in various parts of the world such as in Europe and Australia. Apart from that, exhibitions and festivals are also held at home.
In West Sumatra, for example, the government will organize a festival on Mentawai Island.
With regard to this event, Tourism Minister Arief Yahya invited the public to visit Mentawai Enchantment Festival 2016 to be held on April 19 to 21.
"The visitors can enjoy traditional food and marine tourism on Mentawai Islands, West Sumatra," Arief Yahya said in Jakarta on Sunday. Mentawai is known for its best surfing point. Many international surfing competitions are held in Mentawai each year.
There are two spots of wave namely Lances Right and Macaronies. The two points are recorded as the 10th best in the world for surfers. Mentawai Islands have pristine beaches with sun baked sands and has consistently been a popular surfing destination.
There are about 73 surf spots in Mentawai with 49 of them offering exclusive locations. In addition to surfing spots, there are also 33 diving locations and 38 fishing areas.
"Please look for wonderful Indonesia in Mentawai," the minister said.
The festival will display art and cultural exhibitions, nautical activities, traditional dances, food, and many others. It will be centered on Mapaddegat Beach, District of North Sipora, West Sumatra.
In efforts to attract more visitors, both domestic and foreign tourists, a marine tourism expo will be organized in Jakarta. The Tourism Ministry supports the organizing of the event.
The event is described as the countrys biggest marine adventure tourism exhibition, themed with: "Deep & Extreme Indonesia 2016". It will be held at the Jakarta Convention Center, from March 31 to April 3, 2016.
"The Tourism Ministry supports the organizing of the event. Lets explore the beauty of Indonesias underwater world," Tourism Destination Development Deputy of the Tourism Ministry Dadang Rizki said in Jakarta on Sunday.
Organized since ten years ago, the exhibition is the biggest and most complete of its kind held in the country. It explores marine tourism markets in various regions to be developed into world best diving tourist destinations.
Dadang explained that the Indonesian underwater world is host to various coral reefs which serve as habitat for more than 2,000 fish species and various sea biota.
Different fish species such as wrasse, dansel, trigger, sweetlip and unicorn are all can be found there. There are also various big fish species such as tuna, marlin, hammer head sharks, sailfish, yellowfin tuna, barracuda, dolphin and whales.
Various tourism operators and diving organizers, government organizations, tourism promotion boards and travel bureaus will take part in the exhibition.
The operators and diving organizers will display diving operator ship and various diving accessories, and other water sport devices. They will also exhibit underwater photography equipment.
Promotions through various activities at home and abroad are organized to demonstrate that Indonesia has huge marine potential that serves as the pillar of the countrys tourism.
Therefore, maritime expert Raymond Lesmana suggested that the government should develop the pillars of the marine tourism in order to attract more foreign tourists.
"The government should develop the pillars to enable its tourism to development progressively," remarked Raymond in Mandurah, West Australia, on March 22.
He made the statement when he became a speaker during the promotion event of "Wonderful Indonesia for Yachter Community Australia 2016" organized by the Tourism Ministry.
The promotion event was attended by Indonesian Consul General to West Australia Ade Padmo Sarwono, Head of the Asia Pacific Marketing Affairs of the Tourism Ministry Adella Raung and members of Yachter Community from the Mandurah Offshore Fishing and Sailing Club Inc.
Raymond said the government should carry out the pillars of the marine tourism sector namely national policy (Presidential regulation among others) which provides visa-free facility to foreign tourists, local government support to the national policy, making use of the momentum of marine tourism agenda, improvement of tourism infrastructure and of human resources.(*)
Fardah Antara 28 Mar 16;