There is one reason why Indonesia is often called “Emerald of The Equator”. Its maritime attractions make this country one. You can find them in places like: Bunaken (North Sulawesi), Labuan Bajo (East Nusa Tenggara), Wakatobi (Southeast Sulawesi), and Raja Ampat (West Papua).
Surely, almost everyone in the world has heard of Raja Ampat, but why is it the reason for Indonesia to be called “Emerald of The Equator”? Why does this tourist attraction need proper management as part of the West Papuan ecological welfare?
About Raja Ampat
First of all, who does not know Raja Ampat? It is located in the most western part of West Papua and consists of the four biggest islands called Waigeo, Batanta, Salawati, and Misool. There are also 1,847 smaller islands around them.
Snorkeling and diving fans around the world must know this place. According to the Nature Conservancy and Conservation International, about 75% of coral species live underwater. There are also about 1,318 types of fish, 699 types of Mollusca, and 537 coral reefs.
It is where you get to go diving and see pygmy seahorses, batfish, and mermaids. There are plenty of diving spots you can go to, from Kabuli Passage around the Arborek Island Harbour, Sauwandarek, Yenbuba, Friwen Wall, and many more. Still, underwater beauty is not the only that you can enjoy here.
You can also go climbing to the top of the hill. You get to look down and enjoy the heavenly scenery below. You enjoy the clear blue water and the lush green scenery on the islands around you. Of course, you will need some serious physical strength to reach the top of the hill. It is tiring but worth the trip.
Why Raja Ampat Needs Proper Management For West Papuan Ecological Welfare
Also related to the climate change issue, an ecological-economical balance is crucial to support the welfare of West Papuans. There has been cooperation between countries with the same issues to establish strategic cooperation and investment based on the ‘blue economy.’
The blue economy is the concept of developing the world economy with sustainable principles. The sustainable principles include using ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs. At the same time, all parties involved in the blue economy are responsible for preserving the overall ocean ecosystem’s health.
Seychelles is one island country that Indonesia has been working with regarding this. According to Sakti Wahyu Trenggono, the minister for Indonesian Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Seychelles is a blue economy pioneer. This African country has already developed a program for the blue bond sovereignty to fulfill the improvements of its maritime tourism.
On their official site, the World Bank states that blue bond is an instrument of debt issued for increased investment for projects that benefit and are eco-friendly based on marine life and the ocean itself.
Since the pandemic, there has been a suggestion to turn Raja Ampat into a more private tourist attraction. This place of four famous islands and the small ones is much better for anything but mass tourism. It does not mean it is off-limits to the world. There still have to be some restrictions, like the number of visitors allowed per month and the health protocols everyone should follow.
As one of the reasons Indonesia has been called “Emerald of The Equator”, Raja Ampat needs more proper management. With the policy emphasizing “the ecological-economical” balance, the green of nature in West Papua will be more preserved. Natural sources are more sustainable.
Climate change has been a serious issue for the world. It is about time that we all did something more for Mother Earth.