“Creating New Marine Protected Areas During Indonesia’s New Normal” by underwater filmmaker Alex del Olmo has been announced as a Keynote Presentation at The 13th Asian Conference on Asian Studies (ACAS2023) and The 13th Asian Conference on Cultural Studies (ACCS2023).
To participate in ACAS/ACCS2023 as an audience member, please register for the conference.
This plenary will also be available for IAFOR Members to view online. To find out more, please visit the IAFOR Membership page.
Creating New Marine Protected Areas During Indonesia’s New Normal
During the COVID-19 pandemic, societies all over the world were facing not only a health problem but also an economic crisis, and Indonesia was no exception. The Indonesian Government, led by President Joko Widodo, tried to implement self-contained regulations to control the spread of the virus while simultaneously closing Indonesian borders to everyone except nationals and foreign workers returning to the country. As tourism came to a halt, scuba diving activities dropped nearly to zero.
In this context, something truly unique happened. For the first time in over 25 years, there were almost no divers, and only a handful of liveaboards were taking trips where they used to bring thousands of guests to the most remote areas in Indonesia. However, this left some Marine Protected Areas unguarded, and locals were trying to survive with no income as their jobs in the tourism industry vanished.
In November 2020 and later in November 2021, during Indonesia's "New Normal," one of those liveaboards - The Seven Seas - partnered with a conservation team from the Coral Triangle Centre (CTC) and Yayasan Konservasi Alam Nusantara (YKAN) to create a community-based program that could protect some of the most vulnerable coral reefs in the Forgotten Islands and the Banda Sea, as well as document the fish life.
Accessible only during the short seasonal gap of calm winds between the Southeast and Northwest monsoon, the Forgotten Islands (also known as the Southeast Moluccas) comprise an arc of islands stretching 1,000 kilometres from Timor to West Papua. Their relative isolation and the often stormy seas throughout the year mean that they are some of the least visited and explored islands in all of Indonesia, making them the ideal place to create new Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).
Alex del Olmo
With an interest in underwater life from a very young age, Alex became a certified diver at the age of 18.
Having earned a degree in Audiovisual Communication, two master's degrees in Creative Documentary and Production & Directing in Audiovisual Fiction, as well as a PhD in Cinema and Audiovisuals, Alex's academic background provided a solid foundation to work in the realm of television, film and documentary-making for over 25 years.
Alex secured full-time tenure as a PhD Professor at the Tecnocampus-Universitat Pompeu Fabra, but ultimately decided to pursue his dream of travelling and filming in the Indo-Pacific, where he became the cruise director for the renowned Seven Seas liveaboard. This proved to be a perfect fit, allowing him to combine his passion with his work as an underwater cameraman for production companies, television and documentaries.
Alex has been filming underwater for over 15 years, logged over 8,000 dives, and has a theoretical background that is unique in the underwater profession. As such, he has mastered the audiovisual arts to create compelling stories specialising in filming all kinds of marine life in the most challenging underwater environments worldwide.
Alex's work earned him awards from prestigious underwater image festivals all over the world, and his films have been broadcast on a variety of national and international television networks worldwide.