The Coral Triangle Center, or CTC, was founded in 2010, by a small group of dedicated people who are committed to protecting coral reefs. Growing from five to 35 staff in the years since, the team focuses on using a combination of traditional knowledge systems, and modern science-based approaches to promote marine conservation and conserve coral reefs across the region. The CTC executive director Rili Djohani says her team is passionate about their projects, and are busy educating others on how to join in their conservation efforts to safeguard the future of coral reefs, and coastal communities everywhere.
CTC’s main aim is to support Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), designated areas of ocean that are given protected status, where human activity is restricted and marine ecosystems are safeguarded. CTC's MPA sites are carefully chosen, with several key factors in mind, including the biodiversity of the area, the commitment of the local community, and the feasibility of establishing a project there. They helped to establish and manage the Nusa Penida MPA, and facilitate practical training sessions on marine life and sustainable marine conservation at their learning site on the island.
Climate change and coral bleaching are amongst the biggest threats that the reefs are facing - reef ecosystems can take years to heal once bleaching occurs, and many will never recover. Destructive fishing practices, overfishing, and dynamite or cyanide fishing are also huge problems, as well as the hazards of pollution, plastics and poorly managed rubbish and waste. The team at CTC also say that the growth in tourism in regional areas throughout Indonesia, without proper means to manage the influx of tourists, is also a big worry for the health of marine ecosystems. Luckily, awareness of these issues is growing globally, through the work of groups like the CTC and their partnership programs such as Green Fins certification, which provides training and support for responsible dive operators to become environmentally friendly. Together they are educating people on how to be responsible tourists, and prevent the oceans from being destroyed.
The CTC are pioneering programs to bring marine conservation to the forefront, by providing experiential training to as many people as they can reach. Their goal is to work with communities to build resilient networks that are active in preserving their marine environment. They hope to make marine conversation more mainstream, and to inspire those around them to actively participate in their community and conservation efforts. As a training provider, they offer 26 training modules that can be taken over three to five days, or shorter, half-day courses to learn all about marine life, MPA management and caring for coastal ecosystems. The modules are based around practical, interactive and hands-on learning, which is the most effective way to create lasting impact and change.
The focus of their new Center for Marine Conservation in Sanur is on interactive learning for adults and children, and engaging with the community through art, science and culture to better care for their marine environments. “We’re focused on an interactive approach, and with the Center we try to reach out more to the larger public, for people who are just interested to learn more” says Rili. They have also set up a marine themed ‘Escape Room’ for people to come and enjoy while learning about the underwater world of Indonesia, as well as other fun learning activities for the local community and tourists. Their Center is also home to Bali’s deepest dive pool, and they are now launching a Coral Dive School to train people in scientific diving.
Over the last year, the CTC has engaged with over 5000 people, and their goal is to bring at least 300 visitors per day through their Center in Sanur. They are also hopeful that increasing tourist numbers can positively play a role in regional conservation efforts. Tourists can take part in education programs and fun activities at their Center, donate to the cause, participate in the ‘adopt-a-coral’ program, and spread the conservation message globally.
Last year, one of their successful projects involved a collection and reuse program in the Arafura Sea, which saw local teams collecting ‘ghost nets’ – fishing nets that have been left behind in the ocean. These ghost nets pose a significant threat to marine life, and are an unnecessary hazard in the waterways. Once the nets were collected they were then cleaned and shipped to Slovenia, where they were recycled into nylon products, such as carpets and clothing. This program was then rolled out to other communities in the area, who are now cleaning the ocean of ghost nets, as well as creating an income stream by selling the cleaned and reclaimed nets.
This is an example of the positive work that the CTC are doing to protect the future of marine ecosystems and coastal communities throughout Indonesia, that will hopefully have a ripple effect felt around the world.