The entire island of Bali is served by a single protected port - Benoa located at the southern tip of the island in close proximinty to the island's only airport and the major tourism areas of the island. The area is a natural tidal basin surrounded by an environmentally critical mangrove forests that at its centers offers a protected anchorage to shipping via a narrow entrance through a break in a coral reef.
A Very Crowded Port
The sole port for a bustling tourism island with a population of 3 million souls, Benoa must provide support to a growing fishing fleet, a container terminal, various passenger ships, and the large number of yachts and day boat tourism operators.
The current port area, which requires almost continuous dredging to maintain accessibility, covers an area of only 57 hectares. Within that area there is a 730 meter long fishing dock that handles 600 fishing boat visits each month. Another separate 450 meter dock handles a growing number of container ship visits, some 18 tourism vessels who make their home port in Bali, assorted visits by inter-island passengers ships, and the odd calls by small visiting navy ships.
While plans have long been on the drawing board to increase the current port from its current 57 hectares to an initial 261 hectares and eventually to 483 hectares, the funding for the required expansion is another victim of Indonesia's continuing economic and political crisis.
Beyond these finanical restraints, there looms a lobby of resistance to any Benoa port expansion from local environmental groups. Although a detailed environmental impact study has reportedly been done suggesting the expansion is environmentally viable, any expansion at the expense of the mangrove forests that surrounds the port's perimeter meets with strong objection from local environmental groups.
According to official statistics, the use of the Benoa port grows at an average rate of 20% meaning that in the absence of a port expansion program or the construction of an alternative port facility the export, fishing and tourism sectors are soon to be facing very real carrying capacity limitations imposed by Bali's port capacity.
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