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Evaluating Coastal Water Quality: Unveiling the Impact of Marine Debris on Bali's Shorelines

The issue of waste has become a common occurrence for the people of Bali, especially for coastal communities who have often heard the term "Sea Trash Harvest." In early 2021, this trash harvest occurred again on several beaches, including one of them being Kuta Beach. Starting from the morning, more than 100 people, including vendors and service providers on this beach, had spread out to sweep trash along Kuta Beach. Meanwhile, several heavy equipment were also operated to transport the piles of tens of tons of marine debris.



Marine debris, whether it's debris washed ashore or not, mostly consists of plastic waste, and almost all of it is packaging produced domestically. Not a few of this waste has been seen in the sea for a long time because the color and writing have faded, even starting to deteriorate. This waste has a significant impact on the preservation of marine ecosystems. Furthermore, a photojournalist in Bali once posted a heartbreaking photo where a turtle died among piles of trash on Kuta Beach on December 31, 2020, just before the New Year's Eve.


According to the Environmental and Sanitation Agency of Badung Regency, there are at least 12 points on the south coast of Bali, precisely in the Badung Regency area, that are affected by marine debris. The 12 beaches that receive debris are Cemagi Beach, Seseh Beach, Canggu Beach, Berawa Beach, Batu Belig Beach, Petitenget Beach, Batu Bolong Beach, Legian Beach, Kuta Beach, Kedonganan Beach, German Beach, and Jimbaran Beach.



Recognizing this issue, the Westerlaken Alliance Indonesia Foundation, through its Marine Environment program, initiated research with a focus on examining the quality of seawater. The examination aims to identify the presence of pathogenic bacteria in seawater. The examination commenced from January 2022 until December 2023, during which a total of 89 seawater samples were collected from Peti Tenget Beach and 28 seawater samples from Batu Bolong Beach. The results of the examination revealed that, bacteriologically, seawater from both beaches did not meet the standards set forth in Governor Regulation No. 16 of 2016 concerning the Environmental Quality Standards and Criteria for Environmental Damage in Seawater Quality for Marine Biota, Tourism, and Recreation.



The initiative of the Westerlaken Alliance Indonesia Foundation in conducting this seawater quality examination is very important. The examination of seawater quality is not just a technical step, but also a real effort to preserve the sustainability of marine ecosystems, which are increasingly threatened by plastic pollution. The Westerlaken Alliance Indonesia Foundation hopes to continue conducting seawater examinations to provide information on the quality of seawater across all beaches in Bali. Good seawater quality conditions can serve as standards for establishing Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in a region, thus providing valuable information for establishing rehabilitation centers without altering habitats, such as the floating cages (seapens) owned by the Westerlaken Alliance Indonesia Foundation.


For the community, it is also hoped that they will become wiser in disposing of waste. Do not litter, especially plastic waste, on beaches or in the sea. Seawater contaminated by plastic waste not only poses a threat to marine life but also affects the balance of the ecosystem as a whole.



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