Sea Level Rise Impacts on the Maritime Sector in Indonesia


As the largest archipelago nation in the world, Indonesia is one of the countries that are most vulnerable to the negative impacts of climate change. Generally, the global climate change model has predicted that Indonesia will experience an increase in temperature, intensity of rainfall that will increase the risk of floods and droughts, and extended dry seasons. The impact of climate change will among others take the following forms: extended dry seasons, floods, increased frequency of extreme climate occurrences, that affect community health and sources of living, degrade biodiversity, and instability of the economy. Impacts are already noted in ports and ship channels due to rising sea levels and changed erosion and sedimentation patterns.

The largest threats of climate change in Indonesia are the increase of sea surface temperature, changes in the intensity and patterns of rainfalls, and the increase of the sea surface level. For Indonesia, sea level rise is an issue that is too important to be denied. Sea level rise will change not just the environment but also the whole socioeconomic face of the country. As the world’s largest archipelagic state, Indonesia has 17,449 islands with over 81,000 kilometers of coastline. The coastline of Indonesia is highly populated because around 220 million Indonesians reside within 100 km of the coast, and of these over 150 million people rely on marine resources for their livelihoods. All activities in the coastal and ocean, such as marine transportation, offshore industry, naval industry, resource extraction, fish cultivation and tourism become an important part of Indonesian economy grow.

At least, there are 3 impacts of sea level rise in Indonesia. First, sea level rise will inundate coastal zones due to increased volume of the seawater and the melting of polar ice caps. Second, sea level rise will reduce farming and coastal livelihoods and affect fish and prawn production. Third, the warming of ocean water will affect marine biodiversity. A survey in the Bali Barat National Park found that a majority of coral reefs were in poor condition. More than half of the degradation was due to coral bleaching.

According to an expert from Reef Check Foundation Indonesia, damage to coral reefs could affect various critical aspects of human life and should not be viewed as merely a loss of marine biodiversity. Coral reef damage also greatly affects food security, income, the stability of the whole ecosystem, and could increase the threat of coastal disasters. Coral reefs support the lives of many people in various sectors. It contributes some US$1.22 million to the fishery sector and $212 million to Indonesia’s marine tourism industry.

Under President Joko Widodo, this issue has become important thing as one of priorities for his governance. After officially being declared winner of the president election, President Joko Widodo confirmed that Indonesia’s rich maritime resources would be the focus and foundation of future development in Indonesia. With at least 60 percent of Indonesia’s population living along the coastline, focusing development in this area should help to improve lives and strengthen Indonesia’s position as a rising economic powerhouse.

However, in recent decades, the story of Indonesia’s management of natural resources has been one dominated by degradation and increased threats. For example, in 2009 and 2010, coral reefs in Aceh to Papua were struck by a sudden rise in sea temperature and new diseases.


Indonesia will be the biggest loser if meaningful actions are not taken to manage the impact of sea level rise. Indonesian oceans are the richest in the world and could lose the varieties of coral reefs, fish production will decrease to around 30 percent, and will lose islands to the rising sea level and could create extreme weather events along the 81,000 kilometers of Indonesia coastline.

It all means income for fishermen will be seriously impacted. Indonesia has the second-largest number of fishermen in the world and they are one of the most marginalized communities. It also means that area such as Bali, Komodo, Raja Ampat, Wakatobi, Bunaken, Weh and many more places will lose their income from tourism. In fact, as much as 25 percent of national gross domestic product (GDP) is derived from activities located on or near the nation’s coastline.

Therefore, at least, three priority areas could be considered by all environment and marine stakeholders in relation to block the impact of sea level rise in Indonesia. First, undertaking inadequate and ineffective enforcement of existing laws. In the context of the maritime policy, the government could promote the use of integrative port surveillance systems and aerial drones to address the problem of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

Second, the 2012 National Action Plan for Climate Change Adaptation could be used as a guideline which provides a path to address and mitigate the effects of climate change across all sectors in their development agendas. The action plan should be integrated into all levels of government, from national and ministerial level, to provincial, district and village levels, as a tool for harmonization and operationalization of all documents related to climate change.

Third, strengthening cooperation with other countries to protect the vast coral ecosystem through The Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI). This initiative seeks to manage fishing better, protect coastlines and species and improve communities’ resiliency in dealing with climate change.

Indonesia is highly vulnerable to climate change impacts such as rising sea levels and inevitable need adaptation to the climate change. Confronting the threat of rising seal level, it is necessary to seek the international society to stick together to combat global climate change. To tackle the present challenge, it’s essential to optimize the current energy consuming structures so as to adapt to the climate change.

#sesparlu 55



Andres G. Spyrou, Global Climate Change and the Shipping Industry, New York: Universe Inc, 2010.

Hannah Fo ̈rster, Till Sterzel, Christian A. Pape, Marta Moneo-Lain, Insa Niemeyer, Rizaldi Boer, Ju ̈rgen P. Kropp, Sea level rise in Indonesia: on adaptation priorities in the agricultural sector, Springer-Verlag 2011

John Vidal, Maritime economy: the brave blue world, Vision-Fresh Perspectives from Dubai, October 2012.

Republic of Indonesia, National Action Plan for Climate Change Adaptation (RAN-API), Ministry of National Development Planning/National Development Planning Agency (BAPPENAS), November 2013

Shinji Kaneko,Masato Kawanishi, Climate Change Policies and Challenges in Indonesia, Tokyo: Springer 2016.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s