A flood of tourists at North Sulawesi’s Bunaken marine park are taking a toll on the park’s main attraction: the coral reefs.
Unregulated snorkeling and an overwhelming amount of waste have damaged much of the park’s coral reefs, Boyke Toloh, of the Bunakan National Park Management Council, said on Monday. Boyke, who didn’t have any figures, explained that the park’s coral reefs had deteriorated significantly in the past decade.
“Bunaken National Park ten years ago was like Raja Ampat in Papua today,” Boyke said. “It was clean and its charm drew much attention. But now, the more tourists come to Bunaken, the more they impact the environment.”
Boyke blamed both tourists and unscrupulous tour operators on the damage.
“Visitors and operators of boats carrying tourists have abandoned the principal of sustainability,” Boyke said.
The boat operators transporting tourists from South Sulawesi’s Manado to Bunaken Island should have reminded passengers not to dump their garbage overboard and not to step on the coral reef when they snorkel, Boyke said.
“They no longer remember to do so,” he said. “This is despite
the fact that Bunaken Island’s main commodity is its coral reefs.”
The island received an average 13,000 visitors a year, including 10,000 foreign visitors, with the high season running from May to June.