DOCK Komodo: Providing Safe Diving and Biodiversity Protection
What is DOCK?
Labuan Bajo, home to one of the Scuba Republic’s three shops, is an ever-growing town. The town’s main income comes from tourism and the dive industry. Due to the recent expansion of Labuan Bajo’s dive industry, there was a call for regulations to standardise scuba diving in Komodo National Park. This is where DOCK come in. In 2008, The Dive Operators Community in Komodo (DOCK) was born. It promised safe and sustainable scuba to the fast-growing destination, ensuring the protection of Komodo National Park and safety for all of you underwater dwellers as well.
Why is DOCK important?
DOCK now has Scuba Republic and 15 other members agreeing to its regulations and the city has become a much safer place to dive. New diving practices and environmental standards have been beneficial and appreciated by most. Since 2008, the organisation has worked to become a part of the community. Today, DOCK involve themselves within a range of projects to manage the threats that Komodo National Park is facing today.
What are the threats facing Komodo National Park?
The issues of most concern are the destructive and illegal fishing practices, exasperated by increasing levels of visitation. Major threats to the Park’s reef habitats include destructive fishing practices, over-exploitation and boats dropping anchor and destroying coral. The recent population growth is causing increasing levels of household sewage and rubbish to become a threat, as it is pumped into the ocean. Coral bleaching events and other impacts from climate change might occur more frequently in the future due to an increase in seawater temperatures. By enrolling DOCK into our crew, we at Scuba Republic are determined to do all we can to help.
What projects are DOCK involved in to help save the park?
Improving Diving Standards
Containing 100 different dive sites, Komodo National Park has many wonders to discover. But before the discovery of treasure, first a ship needs to moor, which is where mooring buoys are useful. Boats in Komodo use these buoys to anchor themselves in place upon their visit to a dive site. DOCK’s first project involved the installation of new buoys across the park. Deployed in 2001 to 2006, 46 new mooring buoys helped to prevent boats from using their anchors, which could hit and destroy fragile coral reefs in Komodo National Park.
Komodo National Park is home to more than 1,000 fish, 350 coral and 70 sponge species. DOCK work to conserve the biodiversity within this area from the various threats the national park faces. The marine environment is essential for people within both the local and dive community. Without the park, Labuan Bajo would suffer, so its protection is vital.
DOCK help contribute to the monitoring of species populations within the park. Members of DOCK take researchers from Manta Watch and the Marine Megafauna Foundation (MMF) free of charge on their boats. Here at Scuba Republic, we’ve taken them out numerous times and it’s a privilege to see researchers conduct surveys on the manta ray population within the area and track any changes.
So far, they have been able to identify 1,000 mantas.
That’s a lot of mantas.
Education and Social Outreach
DOCK also aim to educate guests and people within the local community on how they can help to maintain biodiversity. The MMF and Manta Watch will often take part in short presentations on mantas within local dive shops to guests. Locals are educated on sustainability through social outreach to the communities in and around Komodo, which helps to manage the growing household sewage and rubbish problem.
Through social media, DOCK engage with the public, where they produce educational videos on sustainability which help to educate people worldwide. In November 2018, DOCK launched their eco-travel kit to help reduce single-use plastics. The kit includes a reusable water bottle, straw and bag. It also provides customers with a town map that shows the locations you can refill your water bottle. DOCK have made it easy to pitch in and do your part to save the oceans.
Cooperation with Government
Promoting change in the local community takes place by working with the government and local initiatives. Given permission, DOCK are able to create positive developmental programmes for the local community within Labuan Bajo. The focus of the programme is to educate locals on sustainable practice within the fishing industry and within daily life. We’re glad times are a changin’.
Support of Local Initiatives
DOCK do all they can to support local initiatives who want to help the marine environment. Trash Hero in Komodo have DOCK’s full support, as well as ours. Trash Hero is a group of unpaid volunteers who are passionate about the environment. Every Friday in Komodo there is a community clean-up with the aim of picking up as much rubbish as possible to prevent it from entering our seas. Education of local children takes place on Wednesdays where the aim is to improve their English skills and grow their passion for the environment.
Once a month, school visits take place to show environmental films, explain the issue of single-use plastic and provide the children with alternate solutions. Trash Hero also assist Eco Flores/Indonesian Waste Platform in helping local teachers learn how to teach their students to reduce, reuse and recycle. The more educated people there are, the less trash there will be in our seas. By supporting local initiatives, DOCK support the oceans.
Why are we members?
Despite all the reasons above of why you would support DOCK, you’d be surprised to find out that not all the dive centres in Komodo are members. When it comes to diving, safety of the guests and protection of the marine environment are our main priorities, which is why we chose DOCK. As a dive shop we like to contribute to the community we are in. DOCK enables us to not only provide safe diving and biodiversity protection, it also provides us with a community of dive shops with the same ideals. At Scuba Republic we aim to support initiatives that support our underwater world and support Labuan Bajo. Both our are homes and we intend to support them equally.
“There is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about.”
And at Scuba Republic, we know what it is that we care about.