Diving and snorkeling contribute to coral reef damage according to research by the Bogor Institute of Agriculture (IPB).
The study, conducted at Panggang Island in the Thousand Islands regency between April and June 2013, found that diving and snorkeling in the area had destroyed 7.57 percent and 8.2 percent of coral reefs per year, respectively due to divers or snorkelers who kicked, stepped on, touched or took the coral.
WWF Indonesia marine and fisheries campaign coordinator Dwi Aryo Tjiptohandono said that the main cause of damage to the reefs was the amateur divers’ inability to float and irresponsible divers who took coral for souvenirs.
According to a recent report by kompas.com, vandalized coral reefs were also found in Raja Ampat in West Papua. An Australian who lives in the area, Doug Meikle, uploaded three photographs on Stay Raja Ampat’s Facebook account, which showed three areas of damage.
Meikle said that this vandalism was not the only thing that was destroying Raja Ampat’s coral reefs. Live-aboard anchors were said to be responsible as well. “[The live-aboard anchors] are even worse than the vandalism,” he said.
The head of the underwater tourism acceleration program, Cipto Aji Gunawan, said that the Tourism Ministry would revoke the license of dive operators who were involved in damaging the reefs.