Nur Yasmin, Jakarta – Benoa Bay in Bali has been declared a maritime conservation area by Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti, an official said on Tuesday. The decision by the minister has also put an end to a reclamation project inside the bay area that has drawn years of criticism from the public.
The minister took the decision after lengthy discussions with local communities and the provincial government, according to Brahmantya Poerwadi, the director general of maritime area management at Susi's ministry.
The decision was delivered as a ministerial decree dated Oct. 4, Brahmantya told a press conference in Jakarta.
The ministerial decree was issued in accordance with a previous presidential decree on urban landscape development in Denpasar, Badung, Gianyar and Tabanan in Bali, he said.
Benoa Bay has been designated as a conservation area to protect it from ecological damages, Brahmantya said.
"The conservation area in Benoa Bay covers a total of 1,243.41 hectares, divided into a main zone and a limited-use zone. In both zones, [reclamation] activities are not allowed," he said.
A presidential decree is being drafted to provide a stronger legal basis for the conservation. It will include Benoa Bay as one of the government's "national strategic areas."
The presidential decree is expected to be issued early next year, Brahmantya said.
The reclamation project was begun in 2012 to allow investors to develop a tourist resort and a racing circuit, but it has since been met by growing resistance from local residents and environmental activists.
Bali's Udayana University released a study in 2013 recommending an immediate halt to the reclamation project.