The Status of Coral Reefs’ Anthropogenic Stressors in Indonesia 2019

Written by Audrey Himantono

Sep 24th, 2020

Following our previous blog post on the 2019 Indonesian Coral Reef Status , this blog post is all about highlighting the importance of minimizing the anthropogenic stressors that are still widespread in 2019.

Anthropogenic Stressors

The anthropogenic stressors in Indonesia include land-based pollution, coastal development and tourism, blast fishing and mining. As we can see in these figures, coastal development and tourism is the one factor that is present throughout the Indonesian archipelago. Land-based pollution and mining activities are only present in small regions. However, these are all factors linked to economic development and more or less linked to providing work to the local community – so this is a bit harder to minimize.

Blast fishing, on the other hand, is easy to avoid. This is fishing done through bombs, and many other techniques for fishing are widely available that are more sustainable. If the locals use different fishing techniques, it won’t have such a negative side-effect on the coral reefs. Even though blast fishing has become less widespread over time, there are still regions that use it to this day, as seen in the figure. These include North Sumatra, South Sulawesi, East Nusa Tenggara, Maluku and Papua. With proper education and training of the locals, we would therefore be able to minimize this anthropogenic stressors – which is one of the areas Biorock Indonesia involves itself in.

Along with climate changes, anthropogenic factors have become the main causes of coral reef degradations. Due to the higher sea temperature, mass bleaching have occurred and recovery is slow. Bleaching events also used to be rare, but the time between these severe events has diminished steadily. This is then exacerbated when anthropogenic stressors also occur at the same time. The NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information shows 2019 to be the third warmest year on record as well. It is thus crucial that we try to minimize the anthropogenic stressors as much as we can – as this more so within our scope of control.


Importance of Indonesia’s Coral Reefs

Global importance

It has been estimated that the total area of coral reefs in Indonesia are about 51,000 km2. This estimate is 18% of the world’s coral reefs, and 51% of the region’s coral reefs. Preserving the Indonesian reefs and minimizing anthropogenic effects locally might therefore have a big global effect.

Global Coral Reefs



Diversity and endemic species

Indonesian coral reefs are also among the most diverse in terms of animals and plants. More than 480 species of hard coral have been recorded in eastern Indonesia, which is approximately 60% of the total worlds’ coral species that have been recorded to date. There are more than 1,650 coral reef fish species in eastern Indonesia as well – and these coral reefs help to support one of the largest fisheries in the world. If the reefs were to degrade, these fish would have no home to nest and feed and die out. On top of that, there are also some endemic coral species in the region – meaning that these species are native to the region and cannot be found anywhere else in the world. In Lombok it’s the Acropora suharsonoi, Bali has the Euphyllia baliensis, Makassar has Indophyllia macassarensis, and the Togian Islands have the Isopora Togianensis. This diversity and presence of endemic species makes it even more important to preserve these Indonesian coral reefs.


State of the locations of endemic species

In the previous blog post, we saw the overall average health of the reefs in Indonesia, as well as regions grouped by West, Central, and East. Though this is important, it’s not representative of all the regions since it is an average. In particular, it is important to look at the home locations of the endemic species.

In this table, we can see that Lombok, Bali and Makassar have around half of all the reefs in poor health – significantly higher than the Indonesian average. Makassar also has a very low percentage in good health of only 8%, again a very significant difference from the Indonesian average. Lombok and Bali are quite similar to the average with good health around 22% and excellent health around 6%. The Togian Islands are quite interesting, as they have no reefs in poor nor excellent health but only in fair and good health. This is not concerning as the reefs are doing quite okay in that case. It is worth paying extra attention to Lombok, Bali, and Makassar as many reefs are in poor health – and endemic species need to be preserved as well.


So as a main takeaway of this blog post: during 2019, Indonesia still had a lot of anthropogenic factors contributing to the degradation of its coral reefs – which have a global importance for the environment and marine life. We must act now in educating and empowering the locals to change their behaviours to avoid more damage. Help support this cause by getting involved, donating, or simply staying in touch with us via social media!


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Johan, O., Budiyanto, A., Dzumalek, A. R., & Sulha, S. (2020). The Status of Indonesian Coral Reefs 2019. Research Center for Oceanography.

Yudiarso, Permana. (2019). State of the Coral Triangle: Indonesia; Chapter Climate Change.

Burke, Lauretta & Selig, Elizabeth & Spalding, Mark & authors, other & McManus, John. (2002). Reefs at Risk in South East Asia.

Gaskill, Melissa. (2019). The Current State of Coral Reefs.

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