Friday, September 10, 2004

Tapping of groundwater harm tank fish: Expert

Source: The Jakarta Post

Theresia Sufa, The Jakarta Post, Bogor

A researcher with the Bogor Institute of Agriculture (IPB) has expressed concern that the condition at the Ornamental Fish Breeding and Marketing Center in Cibinong, Bogor regency, could be deteriorated due to the exploitation of groundwater in Cibinong and Ciseeng districts by industries.

"Groundwater in both districts is an invaluable treasure for researchers like me. The water has the ideal acidity to breed ornamental fish and if we dig to a certain depth in the area, we can find coral," IPB's water ecosystem expert Joko Purwanto said on Wednesday, on the sidelines of a seminar on "Improving Maritime Potential through Science, Technology and Agribusiness".

The Rp 18.5 billion (around US$2 million) ornamental fish complex, which was inaugurated by President Megawati Soekarnoputri in March, can accommodate fish from about 3,000 breeders and traders in Greater Jakarta. It will also function as a research and grading station, to select and improve the quality of the fish before they are exported to countries around the world.

According to the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, the complex could increase the value of Indonesian ornamental fish export to US$50 million per year, from $15 million last year.

Indonesia captures only 7.5 percent of the total world market for ornamental fish. This is low, considering the country is home to 4,500 types of ornamental fish -- more than half of the estimated total of about 8,000 species. About 300 species have been identified and named, while around 50 have been bred and commercialized.

Joko further said that groundwater exploitation by the factories could have endangered the environment. "We should have realized that the use of groundwater must be limited to minimize environmental damage."

He added that Bogor should have learned from Jakarta, where seawater had intruded into groundwater wells on the northern coast up to Jl. Thamrin, Central Jakarta.

Joko called on the regency's environmental management agency to regulate the use of groundwater, enforce the regulation and impose sanctions on any violators.