Indonesia is world’s second-biggest plastic waste contributor

Markus Makur The Jakarta Post 8 Jun 16;

Souvenirs: Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti ( left ) inspects model Komodo dragons sold at the Komodo National Park in West Manggarai regency, East Nusa Tenggara.( JP/Markus Makur )

Indonesia produces 260 million tons of plastic waste a year, making it the second-biggest contributor of plastic waste in the world after China, a minister says.

Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti said Indonesian waters would be full of plastic waste in the future if fishermen continued to dump garbage into the sea and urbanites did the same in rivers.

“Garbage dumped into rivers across Indonesia ends up in the sea and piles up. When it gets caught on reefs, fish and shrimp will definitely not lay eggs there,” Susi told a gathering of hundreds of fishermen in Labuan Bajo subdistrict, Komodo district, West Manggarai regency, Flores Island, East Nusa Tenggara ( NTT ), on Monday.

Susi expressed admiration for the natural beauty of Flores Island on land in the sea and the friendliness of its people. Yet despite the natural beauty, there was a problem with plastic waste that was not being managed properly.

She said she had arrived at Komodo Airport on Sunday and had the chance to observe West Manggarai regency from the air in a helicopter.

“I saw so much plastic garbage on Labuan Bajo waters. West Manggarai should indeed act as a good example in plastic waste management,” said Susi, adding that a regency bylaw on fines for dumping garbage recklessly was urgently needed in the regency to prevent people from littering.

Susi said garbage in the Komodo National Park had to be managed properly because it was visited by thousands of domestic and foreign tourists, including those arriving on cruise ships, to see Komodo dragons.

“I admire Flores Island and the magical Komodo. Yet, the tourism and fishery sectors have to work in synergy,” the minister said.

Dahlan, a local fisherman, said local people managed plastic waste on West Manggarai waters. He said locals had eventually stopped dumping waste into the sea and rivers, while a number of non-governmental organizations and the regency administration trained people on how to manage plastic waste properly.

“We have been trained to manage plastic waste and frequently remind people to leave behind the bad habit of littering,” he said.

Asma, a local fish employer, said West Manggarai was rich in marine resources, with fishermen in the regency catching fish from January to December.

“What the minister said is very useful for the sustainability of marine resources in West Manggarai,” said Asma, expressing gratitude that she could directly speak to Minister Susi, whom she had previously only seen on television.

Nurhayati, a local creative economy practitioner, said plastic waste had long been in the spotlight and discussed by both local and foreign visitors, as well as ministries in Jakarta and local institutions. Still, people remained oblivious to the need to discard of rubbish properly.

“Plastic waste can always be seen on West Manggarai waters and rivers both in urban and rural areas. Multi-party cooperation is needed to deal with plastic waste,” she said.

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