Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The impact of marine tourism to local communities and coral reef environment

A crew of MV Kasuari Pasifik IV was throwing wastes into the sea
The rapid development of marine tourism brings positive and negative impacts to local communities as well as coral reef environment. The need to generate revenues and create jobs from the available natural resources has influenced maritime countries in the Pacific to develop marine tourism. This lucrative business slowly changes the economic pattern of the local communities from subsistence farming and fishing to service economy. The shifts to the service economy bring a lot of changes to the lifestyle, culture and customs of the local people.
The pace of living which was relatively slow in traditional fishing villages has now turned into a faster one. The introduction of modern airstrip, luxurious hotels and motorized vehicles will directly change the lifestyle of the traditional villagers who might previously not know all these modern lifestyles. They will have to adapt to these changes.
Also the fish that they catch from nearby coral will not only become their food but commodities that people in tourism industry need. Traditional fishermen might be tempted to apply irresponsible fishing techniques in order to catch as many fish as possible to meet the demand of the market. They will also have in their mind the need to live a modern life having motorcycles, speedboats, refrigerators, TV and mobile phones. Coral reef as their only natural resources will have to bear additional burdens both from scuba diving industry and irresponsible fishing as well as coastal reclamation.
Coral reef is similar to rainforest. It is like Amazon jungle. Coral reef is the natural habitat of various kinds of species of marine creatures including fish, urchins, sea star, and a lot more.
The presence of marine tourism also changes economic livelihood of the surrounding environment. Wastes produced by the activities of tourists and people who work in hotels, diving centers and boats have to be properly treated so that they will not pollute the environment particularly the coral reef. In addition, the development of airstrip, jetties, hotels, and resorts a long the coastal region will consume construction materials such as stony corals, sand and wood which are available in the region. It is therefore important to inform the hotel owners not to destroy corals in the shallow waters for the purpose of the construction. If properly managed and informed, the negative impact of marine tourism can be minimized. by Charles Roring in Manokwari of West Papua - Indonesia

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