Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Scuba diving industry and the value of coral reef

by Charles Roring in Manokwari of West Papua - Indonesia


scuba-diving-exhibition.JPGScuba diving and coral reef are two terms that always have close relation. Most of the dive centers are located near coral reef. We can see them in Sinai of Egypt, Great Barrier Reef of Australia, Bunaken, Raja Ampat and Cendrawasih Bay of Indonesia and many marine tourist destinations around the world.


Although coral reef is important for marine tourism, its value is more. It plays a very important role in marine ecosystem. Coral reefs are home to millions of fish. They provide food for both the marine animal and human being. They do the photosynthesis thus absorbing carbon dioxide.


Therefore, the development of marine tourism must not jeopardize the existence of coral reef along the coastal region and its supported environment such as mangrove forest. Beach hotels must treat their wastes before discharging them. Fishermen, most importantly the modern ones, must be trained to practice sustainable fishing techniques. The use of poison, explosive and bottom net has to be banned by the government.


Every year, the number of scuba divers grows well. This is seen as market opportunities by owners of beach hotels and dive centers. Running a dive center needs expensive investment. Dive operators tend to invite as many divers as possible to reach their selling target. It is important for the marine park management board to limit the number of dives in certain coral reef that has been saturated. This is needed to minimize unnecessary pressures on marine ecosystem so that it can thrive and develop well.


As the source of food for human being, coral reef is important not only for the divers but also for the fishermen. When more diving centers are opened in certain location of coral reef region, they will have to respect the traditional fishing communities living in the region. Efforts on marine conservation should provide rooms for fishermen to continue fishing sustainably. It means that not all the area of the coral reef will be categorized as "No Take Zone" area.


If properly and professionally managed, scuba diving industry can get maximum benefit from the existence of coral reef without jeopardizing the interest of local fishing communities.


Also read: scuba diving and fishing communities

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Diving In Milne Bay of Papua New Guinea

Diving in the Pacific islands has been a dream of every professional diver around the world. The tropical waters of Pacific islands have a lot of beautiful and pristine coral reefs. In the Easter Indonesia, there are diving sites in Banda islands, Raja Ampat islands, Bunaken islands, Cendrawasih bay. At the north of West Papua, divers can enjoy the clear water and colorful coral reef of Palau, together with numerous shipwrecks from US Navy and Imperial Japanese Navy.



tawali-diving-resort.jpg


In Papua New Guinea, Milne bay is my recommendation. This is one of the best kept secrets diving sites which recreational scuba divers should visit. If you haven't visited this diving site, I suggest you to put it on your list. The coral reef there is unspoiled and full of various marine animals.


Besides enjoying the beauty of the underwater world, you can also see the unique life and culture of Papuan coastal villagers who catch fish using traditional fishing gear. They also practice certain fishing method that is interesting to see. Why don't you escape for a while from your daily routine and fly to Tawali resort? You will not regret diving and enjoying the nature of Papua New Guinea. Once you have visited the region, you will feel that you have to comeback again next time. by Charles Roring

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

What if I could not afford to scuba dive this year?

by Charles Roring in Manokwari of West Papua - Indonesia



boat-and-beach-hotel.jpgWell this is a question every scuba diver may ask during today's economic downturn. Beach hotels in tropical region such as Bali, Manado, or Palau islands or Phuket Thailand try hard to promote their tour and diving packages to tourists from around the world. The competition is tougher this year as the number of scuba divers is decreasing due to the economic slow down in many parts of the world.


This trend, if I have to see it from positive point of view, is good for the coral reef condition. Fewer dives mean fewer pressures to the coral reef and the marine animals. I don't mean that I reject diving. But I have to say that not many diving enthusiasts will embark on a plan for a trip to the Pacific islands this year.


This will be a hard time for diving resorts. They need to lower their overhead spending, reduce the number of employees and even had to close temporarily - I don't know for sure.


Diving is seen as the backbone of many island countries in the Pacific region besides fishery. If they receive fewer divers this year, they will face economic hardships.


Actually, divers who cannot afford summer diving in the Pacific islands of Palau, Papua New Guinea or West Papua this year can support the local diving communities through many other ways. For instance, they can pay or buy entrance ticket through the internet which is only around 20 dollars. The money will be used by the marine park management board to do some conservation projects that involve the local villagers. Diving resorts can use this quiet time by making underwater film depicting the beauty of the coral reef in their region and sell it in the form of DVD at major bookstores or video stores in big cities around the world. I see that this might be a silly idea but producing film or movie for educational purposes about underwater world of coral reef will give bigger income to the diving resorts.


Many governments support the protection of coral reef since they know that every kilometer of coral reef can provide up to 15 ton of sustainable harvestable fish. Indonesia as the largest archipelago in the world is lack of educational materials that are needed to teach school students and public society about the conservation of coral reef.


I strongly believe that although the economic downturn has also affected the scuba diving industry in many countries, there are still many possibilities for the resort owners and professional divers to make money from the underwater world without having to destroy any single coral at all.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Planula larvae


planula-larvae.jpgPlanula larvae is the Latin name of baby coral. Coral reproduce either asexually and sexually. Coral species are hermaphrodites. It means they are both male and female. They can produce eggs and sperm. In sexual reproduction, sperm swims into the mouth of a polyp containing an egg and fertilizes it internally. The young polyp or planula larvae grows within the polyp. The maturing of planula larvae is called brooding.


Every year, colonies of coral reef release "fertilized eggs" into the sea. These eggs then grow and become baby coral which will be carried away by ocean current to far away places. If they land on hard surface rock or substrate they will grow well.


Majority of the coral reproduction occur in sea water. During this process, polyps release or eject eggs and sperm into the sea. The sperm will fertilize the eggs externally, i.e. outside the polyps.


Experienced scuba divers and marine biologist like to watch the event of how the coral polyps eject eggs and sperm into the ocean. This happens once a year.


Japanese National TV station used to broadcast this event as an educational program to elementary and secondary school students in Okinawa islands.


The showing of coral spawning on TV brings positive impacts. Japanese people and those who were watching the program could understand and appreciate the importance of coral reef to the environment and livelihood of mankind. sun-coral.jpg


On the average, one kilometer of healthy coral reef can produce 15 ton fish which can be caught or harvested sustainably. Coral reef is an important source of food not only to marine animals but also to human being. Therefore, it is important for all of us to participate in the protection and conservation of coral reef. by Charles Roring in Manokwari West Papua Indonesia

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Scuba divers need to support the sustainable fishing practices

by Charles Roring, Manokwari, West Papua

Scuba diving has always been considered as an environmentally friendly tourism industry. Tourist divers who experience underwater world for the first time will be amazed with the beauty of the coral reef and various types of fish moving around them.

a-diving-resort.JPG

The fish that are abundant in coral reef are often caught by local traditional fishermen. They then sell the fish at the nearby market. If well managed, both the diving and traditional fishing can exist side by side without any conflicts of interest.

To realize this condition, owners of diving resorts and marine park management board must find a solution that the local fishermen can accept.

All the area of coral reef in certain region cannot be put in what is called as "NO TAKE ZONE." For conservation purposes, there has to be that kind of zone. BUT an area of limited fishing or sustainable fishing should be delineated in a coral reef region for the fishermen to the their fishing activities.

fish-trap-safe-for-coral-reef.JPG

Traditional fishermen have applied a number of sustainable fishing methods. One of them is the use of fish-trap. In the pacific region, fish traps are placed among the coral reef to catch fish. These fish traps are safer than the modern method of bottom trawling.

The above photograph shows typical fish traps which fishermen in Mansinam island of Manokwari, West Papua use to catch coral fish. I support the use of this traditional fishing equipment. It is mainly made of bamboo or rattan.

If necessary, resort owners and marine park management board can allocate certain budget, collected from the entrance fee charged to the tourists, for the production of fish traps. This will discourage the application of blast fishing and help the fishmen keep the coral reef environment in safe condition.

I strongly believe that the traditional fishing communities can live side by side with the scuba diving operators in mutual cooperation.

Scuba diving in times of financial crisis

During the economic down turn, scuba diving is still possible to be done if we know how to do it efficiently, i.e. without having to spend a lot of money. Diving enthusiasts can try to explore new dive sites in their country if they think that the air fare to dive sites with pristine coral reef in the Pacific region is unaffordable. There are still a lot of unexplored diving sites in the world. Sometimes, we do not realize that some of them are located not far from our home.



DSC05185.JPG


If you insist that you want to dive in the Pacific islands such as the Raja Ampat islands and Cendrawasih Marine National Park in West Papua, you can still do that with minimum cost. Before flying to West Papua, contact other divers in your mailing list whether they want to join you in your trip. Going diving together in a group of ten to twenty people will help you save a lot of money both in transportation and accommodation costs.


When you travel alone, it is better to bring fewer diving equipment. You can rent diving bottles, BCD (buoyancy control device), wet suit, and mask in the diving resort that you stay. But you need to ask the resort owner if they have dive gear that is suitable to your body size and whether it is still in good condition.



DSC05319.JPG


Renting diving gear is cheaper than bringing your own during a long trip. The cost for extra luggage is increasing right now.


Many dive resorts now have websites which display underwater pictures of the coral reef which you might want to dive on. Visit the website and contact the resort owner the best time to dive in the area. The weather in your country might be different from the weather in your diving destination country. It is definitely clear that diving during dry season in countries such as Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Fiji will give you the best diving experience. These countries are located near the equator, diving during rainy season is not recommended. The visibility is very low due to the run of natural debris from the rivers closer to the coral reef.



DSC04230.JPG


When you have got all the necessary information for your next dive trip, you can begin your journey anytime you want. by Charles Roring in Manokwari West Papua - Indonesia

Coral Bleaching and Global Warming

Scuba divers and marine biologists observed that the global coral bleaching event had taken place between 1997 and 1998. During this time sixteen percent of the coral population died. Coral bleaching is caused global warming.


Human activities that burn fossil fuels produce large amount of CO2 emissions and other green house gases that increase the temperature of the earth.



DSC04231.jpg


Coral bleaching does not only affect the scuba diving and marine tourism activities but also the whole world population. Coral is the source of food for fish. When corals die, many marine species will also die. So, the loss of healthy coral reef will also affect the fishing community around the world.


To stop the corals from bleaching, we must stop the global warming. It is not an easy task to be done. Reducing or stopping the global warming is the responsibility of everyone. Actions have to be taken in all such levels as governmental, industrial, domestic and even individual. The success of these actions lies on the changing of lifestyle.


Every concerned citizen can play his or her part in saving the coral reef environment. When going to the supermarket, shoppers can choose not to take plastic bag given by shop assistant. Instead, they can bring their own bags from home. They can also go to work by public transportation or riding bicycles. In addition, every concerned citizen can participate in beach clean up activities.


Large industries that produce huge amount of green house gas emissions must not only solve this problem by buying carbon credit from carbon reduction projects. They must seriously take actions that are aimed at reducing CO2 and its equivalent emissions.



DSC05301.jpg


Diving resorts as the major player in marine tourism industry can play a leading role in cleaning up the beach and underwater environment. Resort and hotel owners need to organize regular beach clean up in their area as part of their corporate social responsibility programs.


The reduction of green house gas emissions will help restore the coral reef condition that is important to the marine environment and to mankind. by Charles Roring in Manokwari of West Papua - Indonesia.

Coral Reef and Beach Clean Up Activity

Coral reef that is located near coastal town and cities always face destructions due to the marine pollution. On shore human activities that produce domestic and industrial wastes often end-up at sea and damage the coral reef ecology.



DSC04874.JPG


To minimize the destruction of coral reef, scuba diving communities frequently voluntarily conduct under water clean up. As a matter of fact the cleaning up of coral reef is not only the responsibility of divers. Everybody who is concern about the environment can participate in this campaign.


It is understandable that the cleaning up of coral reef that is located more than three meters underwater has to be handled by diving professionals who have the skills and expertise to do works underwater. However, there is still a lot of garbage scattered along the beach. City or town dwellers can organize the cleaning up events every two or three months. When doing the clean up, volunteers should not step on or touch coral. They should also not harass marine fish that live among the corals.


After collecting the wastes, they need to sort them into containers according to the categories of the wastes. These wastes can then be recycled, incinerated, or buried in locations that will not harm the marine environment anymore.


Those who are involved in marine tourism activities can play a leading role in the cleaning up of the beach. Marine tourism operators are the ones who will be directly affected if the beach is polluted.



coral-reef.jpg


Coral reef is important to the marine environment. So far there are 93,000 coral reef species which have already been identified. Some experts have even predicted that there are more than 3 million reef species.


Regular beach clean up will not only bring positive impacts to the coral reef ecology but also to the whole environment. by Charles Roring in West Papua Indonesia

What city dwellers can do to protect coral reef

Protecting coral reef is not only the task of scuba divers but also everyone. The destruction of coral reef is now going on very fast.


The degradation of sea water quality to human activities living in big cities play a significant role. Scuba diving only causes very little destruction to the coral reef compared to the city dweller activities. Every day city dwellers throw plastic and metal garbage to the streets. During the rainy days, they flow to the river and then to the sea. Upon arriving at sea, the garbage covers the sea grass and coral reef which are the place where fish and other sea animals live and feed.



DSC05245.JPG


In addition, the rapid growth of population in big cities increases the consumption of food including fish. Marine fishing industry use more modern equipment to catch fish in larger quantity. Often to catch fish at the bottom of the sea, the modern fishing fleet applies the bottom trawling method that causes massive destruction of coral reef.


Other activities from city dwellers that bring more pressure to the coral reef is the construction of housings along the coastal area that creates solid and liquid wastes. These wastes flow or are dumped at sea. As a result coral reef environment located near the coastal housing or tourist centers suffer severe damages and most likely unrecoverable.



DSC04870.JPG


To restore the condition of coral reef, campaigns against marine pollution should be done. City dwellers can begin with such activities as beach clean up. These can be organized in cooperation with marine environmentalists or water sport associations in every coastal cities or towns.


The beach clean up can also be expanded into another educational activity which aims at providing information to city dwellers about how important the coral reef is to the environment. This can be done by broadcasting films about sea life on TVs or publishing articles about coral reef and the sea on local news paper.


City dwellers can also be asked to sort their domestic wastes so that they can easily be recycled instead of being end up at sea. Supermarkets and department store can also participate in coral reef awareness campaign by not providing plastic bags to shoppers or by giving discounts to shoppers who prefer to bring their own bags when shopping.


With more participation from city dwellers in coral reef awareness campaigns, we can hope that in the future the condition of coral reef will be better and able to revitalize the marine life again. written by Charles Roring in West Papua, Indonesia

Thursday, January 15, 2009

A good book for home owner, designer and builder


I just downloaded a book tonight. Its title is Your Green Home - A Guide to Planning a Healthy, Environmentally Friendly New Home.


The phrase new home is not intended only to newly built house but to any house which needs to be re-constructed or modified to be a green home.


I am planning to build my own house and I have been looking for information that is related to sustainable house construction. When I was surfing the e-book websites, I found this book. I haven't read all the pages of the book but I can say that the content is suitable for my needs.


The followings are the topics discussed in the book:



YOUR GREEN HOME


Table of Contents



CHAPTER 1: So YouWant to Build a Green Home


CHAPTER 2: Finding the Help You Need
CHAPTER 3: Where to Build

CHAPTER 4: General Issues in House Design

CHAPTER 5: The Structural Building System
CHAPTER 6: Energy Efficient Design

CHAPTER 7: Making Use of Renewable Energy

CHAPTER 8: Materials and Products for Green Building
CHAPTER 9: Creating a Safe Indoor Environment
CHAPTER 10: Respecting and ConservingWater

CHAPTER 11: Dealing with ConstructionWaste

CHAPTER 12: Landscaping and Plantings
CHAPTER 13: Costs of Building Green
CHAPTER 14: Living in Your Green Home

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Steps in Building a House

Suppose that you plan to build a house this year. The first thing that you need to do is buying a land. The house should be constructed according to the condition of the land.


When you have known the size of the land, and its contour the next step is making the house plan. There are a number of technical drawings which you and designer need to make for constructing the house. Some of them are floor plan, foundation plan, roof plan, ceiling plan, front and side elevations. You also need to have such drawings as electrical and pipe installations for your house.DSC00401.JPG


A floor plan can tell us the size of each room, the number of tiles and also the height of a floor compared to other floor in different rooms.


The foundation plan can tell us the length of the foundation which is important for the calculation of stones, sand, and steel rod materials for the house foundation.


When they are being made, make sure that the house materials that you are going to use are the natural ones. Avoid using materials that are not produced locally. Sometimes, people use pre-fabricated materials because its price is cheaper or stronger. For instance, pre-pressed wall is stronger and lighter than the brick wall that is constructed manually. Failing to plan is planning to fail. So, if you want your house to be comfortable and safe to live, plan it well before building it. by Charles Roring in Manokwari, Indonesia

Light and Air Circulation Requirements for Tropical House

by Charles Roring in Manokwari West Papua, Indonesia


Having a good and comfortable house has been the dream of every family. A house is a place where a family lives and rests. A house is a construction that protects a family from rain, snow, excessive sun light and cold.



wooden-house-sonder-minahasa.JPG


A good house must meet certain technical requirements stipulated by such standards as ISO, DIN, JIS or SNI. As a guide, for instance the minimum requirement for light for a room according to SNI is 20% of the floor area. It means if the size of a bedroom is 4m x 4m = 16 m2 then the window area should at least be 20% x 16 m2 = 3.2 m2. Usually a living room needs more light than a bedroom.


Besides having enough light, a house also needs enough air circulation. This is very important for tropical houses which are always exposed to warm temperature and high humidity. For houses, the openings for air circulation should be at least 5% from the floor area. For office buildings which accommodate more people during work hours, the openings should be at least 10%. In tropical region, people like to construct the walls higher to make to house cooler.


In Indonesia a good house does not only need sufficient light and air circulation but also strength to withstand earthquakes. When people in big cities use steel bars to strengthen their buildings, villagers prefer to use wood and bamboo. These materials can easily be found in remote regions in affordable prices. For hundreds of years wooden houses have protected the buildings from collapse during the earthquakes. Earthquakes happen in Indonesia nearly every year because this country is located in a ring of fire area. I will discuss more about this matter in another article.