|The Bali team before the training (thanks to Sanur Beach Hotel for letting us using the pool)|
The Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry established a task force to address incidents of stranded sea mammals.
Tony Ruchimat, ministry director for conservation area and fish species, said establishing the network was crucial to speed up the rescue of stranded sea mammals and to ensure species were handled correctly.
“Based on previous incidents, fifteen percent of stranded sea mammals were found alive and could be saved. However, sluggish and inappropriate responses could cause the rescue effort to fail,” he said during his presentation at a two-day workshop to establish the taskforce.
“Therefore, we need a network or task force, as well as commitment from the related stakeholders to enhance rescue efforts.”
Members of the task force include individuals from the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry, Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry, the marine police, navy, as well as NGOs, dive operators, life guards, marine experts, research agencies, university and volunteers.
Bali is the first province in Indonesia to establish such a taskforce. After Bali, the ministry will set up similar taskforces in West Java, East Nusa Tenggara and East Kalimantan. The provinces were deemed priorities because of the frequency of incidents and species present.
Tony explained that the task force would optimize efforts to rescue the stranded sea mammals and return them alive and minimize the impact of disease spread by bacteria found in decomposing carcass.
“Establishing a taskforce is one of our programs to save stranded sea mammals this year, in addition to creating rescue guidelines, conducting regular training and strengthening coordination with related institutions.”
According to data from whalestrandingindonesia.com as quoted by the ministry, the species of 25 percent of the stranded sea mammals had not yet been identified.
The most common species found were irawaddy dolphin, sperm whale and short-finned pilot whale.
Putu Liza Kusuma Mustika, a Bali-based cetologist, said during her presentation that incidents of stranded animals were an indication of inappropriate marine management.
“Inappropriate marine management [can be] caused by unsustainable human activities,” she said, adding that further examination is needed to understand the reason of the incident, whether the sea mammals are found dead or alive.
Between 1987 and 2013, there were 203 recorded cases of stranded sea mammals in Indonesian waters.
The most frequent incidents were in East Kalimantan (96 incidents), followed by Bali (37), West Papua (12), and West Java (11). In Bali, many incidents occurred along the southern coast of the island, including in Badung, Denpasar, Gianyar, and Tabanan.
A previous workshop about the rescue of stranded sea mammals held in Bali had recommended that efforts should involve desa pekraman (customary villages) located on the island’s coast, as well as incorporating this issue in awig-awig adat (customary law).
The workshop also recommended that this campaign should be ongoing, Bali should draft its own standard operational procedures on handling stranded sea mammals and the island should identify where the most incidents occurred.