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Should Reclamation Activities Damage Coral Reefs?

The coastal reclamation activity carried out by PT TJ Silfanus on Minanga Beach, Malalayang 1 Barat Village, Malalayang District, Manado City, North Sulawesi Province drew strong protests from the local community.

Protests were made, because there was damage to coral reefs during the ongoing reclamation activities. In fact, the beach area is claimed by the community as part of the customary law area that has been passed down from generation to generation.

The adverse impacts that have arisen have actually been reported to the directly authorized State agencies. However, until now, the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (KKP) has yet to provide a response regarding this matter.

The People’s Coalition for Fisheries Justice (KIARA), which participated in overseeing the case, revealed that the reclamation activities were carried out for projects to build hotels and other supporting facilities.

Apart from the KKP, the authority in the area is the Ministry of Environment and Forestry (KLHK). However, to this day the state agency has not yet provided any response regarding the adverse impacts arising from reclamation on the Minanga coast.

For KIARA, the absence of a response from the KKP and KLHK is enough to explain that there are other considerations that they must take care of. The suspicion was narrowed down to investment activities that are worth not a little.

Together with the Minanga coastal community, KIARA oversees the pressure on the KKP and the Ministry of Environment and Forestry to take action on the destruction of the coast and ecosystems in coastal waters. Once was not enough, requests were made officially twice, namely on 16 and 17 January 2023.

However, as of 5 February 2023 there has been no firm action taken by the KKP and the Ministry of Environment and Forestry. This absence of response implies that the two institutions allowed the destruction to occur.

This fact is getting stronger, because six residents who were arrested and detained by the Manado City Police (Polresta) as a result of protests over reclamation activities, are still languishing behind bars. In fact, they are fighting for the coastal communities of Minanga.

Secretary General of KIARA Susan Herawati urged PT TJ Silfanus to immediately stop the landfilling activity on Minanga’s beaches and waters. Bearing in mind, these activities fall into the category of criminal offenses.

The violation occurred because the reclamation activity was contrary to and violated Article 35 of Law Number 1 of 2014 jo. Law 27/2007 concerning Management of Coastal Zone and Small Islands.

“KKP and KLHK must immediately act in saving the sustainability of the Minangan waters ecosystem and the people who depend on Minanga waters, as mandated by the constitution,” he explained earlier this week in Jakarta.

There is a need for immediate action, because the coast, sea and land of Minanga is a unit that cannot be seen separately in spatial management by the indigenous Bantik community and other local communities.

Along the coast, Susan Herawati said that de facto it was a management area used by the indigenous Bantik community. Apart from that, it is also used by traditional fishermen as a fishing settlement, and as a location for processing fish catches by fishermen and fisherwomen.

Marine biota

Meanwhile, in the coastal waters of Minanga, KIARA considers that it is a gathering place for coastal and coastal ecosystems such as fringing reefs , as well as clam mollusk marine biota ( Tridacna gigas ).

In addition, there are also sea kingfish whose populations are included in the list of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) with Vulnerable status , due to the small population and slow growth. If this continues, the threat of extinction cannot be avoided.

Both the clam and the sea king fish have been designated as protected animals through Government Regulation No. 7 of 1999 concerning the Preservation of Plant and Animal Species. More specifically, sea king fish is also protected by the Minister of Environment and Forestry Regulation No 106 of 2018.

Although there has been no official response from the KKP, the agency led by Sakti Wahyu Trenggono at the same time released a statement stating that they had stopped two reclamation projects being carried out in the Riau Archipelago Province.

This termination must be carried out, because the two reclamation projects owned by PT BSSTEC and PT MPP have not yet obtained the documents for reclamation permits and approval for conformity of marine space utilization activities (PKKPRL).

The Director General of Maritime and Fishery Resources Supervision (PSDKP) of the KKP Adin Nurawaluddin explained that the KKP was still looking for preliminary evidence of the case. If sufficient preliminary evidence is found that business actors deliberately ignore all business licensing provisions, they will be subject to administrative sanctions.

“Every business actor who utilizes space from coastal waters must be equipped with PKKPRL,” he said in Batam last weekend.

PT BSSTEC has started stockpiling land for reclamation since November 10, 2022. Meanwhile, PT MPP has started reclamation activities at coastal locations even earlier, since September 2, 2022 to be precise.

Based on findings in the field, Adin Nurawaluddin concluded that the two companies had violated the rules and were subject to sanctions referring to Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Regulation No. 31 of 2021 concerning Imposition of Administrative Sanctions.

“Both companies will be subject to government coercion sanctions for further investigation,” he said.

He revealed that the firm step of the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries in stopping this project temporarily was a manifestation of the Ministry’s seriousness in succeeding one of the five blue economy priority programs, namely the sustainable management of coasts and small islands.

Minister of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Sakti Wahyu Trenggono on various previous occasions has always campaigned that the MMAF has a strong commitment to restoring ocean health and accelerating a sustainable marine economy.

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