Illegal Fishing Threatens Marine Ecosystem [part 1]

Coral reefs (Photo: Wikipedia)

For centuries, the people of Western Sulawesi coastal areas have depended on marine ecosystems for their food and livelihood. There is a huge ecosystem region called Spermonde Islands located between the main islands of Kalimantan and Sulawesi.

There are 126 small islands spread across this region with a population of more than 50,000. Today, however, coastal communities in Spermonde are worried, as their marine resources have decreased rapidly due to destructive fishing and natural sedimentation from urban disposal and rivers. Some people want to control illegal fishing and at the same time to find alternative sources for their income.

Of the 350 coral species living in Indonesia, 250 were found across Spermonde. This area covers 150 square kilometers of coral reefs. The population has shown a high dependency on coastal resources. Unfortunately, coral fishes have been intensively exploited by destructive fishing practices such as using explosives and poisons.

The use of explosives and poisons has been a tradition for years. Fishermen use bottled-bombs to increase their catch. Based on research, one bottled-bomb will destroy 5 square meters of reef. More-powerful bombs are even more dangerous. The bombs also destroy young benthic species.

The bottle-bomb or dynamite fishing practice started after World War II and has been a big destroyer of coral reefs. For fishermen, increasing their incomes is the main reason to resort to such practices. They do not realize that by destroying the coral reefs they are destroying the next generation’s assets, worth up to US$306,800 per kilometer, for 20 years, according to the latest estimation.

[to be continued]

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