Is COVID-19 Good for Nature and Raja Ampat?

  • April 15, 2020

There is no doubt that COVID-19 gives nature and Raja Ampat waters a break from human activity. It is good in that sense so nature can recover. However, our changing lives bring on new threats for nature. Plastic pollution and lack of control in remote areas have to be considered. We need to be mindful of our consumption behavior for nature to really benefit from this break. Our advocacy for conservation should be louder than ever now, so we can all have amazing dives in Raja Ampat again.

Non-Biodegradable Items

First of all, the consumption of masks and gloves have increased immensely due to Coronavirus. We understand that this is necessary. The disposal procedures for these items though, are still a work in progress in most parts of the world. Even in developed countries, heaps of improperly discarded gloves and masks is a common sight. We know that these will all eventually end up in our oceans, causing more damage to our marine life.

Packaging and Plastic Waste

Masks and gloves are not the only non-biodegradable items that suddenly creeped into our lives after COVID-19, in Raja Ampat and anywhere in the world. We observe the use of plastic packaging has drastically increased giving a false sense of security to consumers. In Raja Ampat, seasonal currents bring in plastic waste from other islands, even other countries. The density and amount of plastic waste is never significant in Raja Ampat. But we sometimes observe plastic packaging of products that don’t even exist in Indonesia.

Less Monitoring

With all the dive operators and hotels ceasing operation, the eyes on our reefs are significantly reduced. A handful of non-government organizations are still active in these areas and do their best to guard the oceans. Papua Explorers Foundation is located in Dampier Strait in Raja Ampat. It is monitoring the activity in the area. Also, we continue to work on the conservation projects in addition to supporting the local community.  But we are not sure what is going on in other parts of the oceans. Lack of control and tourism activity may leave the scene to illegal fishing. One way to fight this is to consume fish and seafood from reliable and sustainable sources only. It is also important to support the conservation of Raja Ampat. To find out how you can support, click here.

Summary COVID-19 in Raja Ampat and Nature in General

Although COVID-19 looks like a break from human activity that the nature much needed, it may not be so blissful if we are not careful about our consumption behavior. We invite everyone to be more mindful about their consumption habits and limit the use of plastic as much as possible. Dispose of plastic gloves and face masks properly and consume sustainably caught fish and seafood if you still prefer to consume these. Please keep thinking about the marine life that will suffer from all that waste and discard plastic waste according to your council guidelines. Good days will come and we will all dive in our beautiful Raja Ampat again. So let’s all ensure that the footprint of COVID-19 days is minimal on marine life.

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