Indonesia: Illegal fishing threatens coral reef in Sawu Sea

Markus Makur, 21 Mar 16;

Dynamite fishing practices allegedly perpetrated by fishermen from West Nusa Tenggara threaten to cause serious damage to coral reef in the Sawu Sea National Park in Flores, East Nusa Tenggara.

A joint patrol team involving the Indonesian Military and Manggarai Police personnel detained a fishing vessel and arrested its crew for allegedly carrying out blast fishing practices in waters around Mules Island in the Sawu Sea National Park, Satarmese district, Manggarai regency, last week.

Kupang National Waters Conservation Agency chief Yesaya Mau told on Saturday that the blast fishing was allegedly perpetrated by fishermen from West Nusa Tenggara, not local fishermen from Flores Island.

“We have sent letters to the police requesting that they arrest all blast fishing perpetrators and bring them to justice. Blast fishing occurs frequently in the area and, if it continues, the practice will damage the ecosystem in the Sawu Sea National Park,” said Yesaya.

He further said that it had been quite difficult for the Kupang National Waters Conservation Agency to monitor fishermen due to its limited facilities. To prevent destructive fishing practices, the agency cooperated with the police, military and various local administration.

“The Sawu Sea National Park, which covers 10 regencies in East Nusa Tenggara, is a unique place that boasts a whale crossover area. Many whales appear in Lamalera waters in Lembata regency. Our task is to protect all ecosystems in this national park,” he said.

Manggarai regent Deno Kamelus told in Ruteng on Saturday that such blast fishing practices, perpetrated in the Sawu Sea National Park by fishermen from outside Manggarai, had taken place for a long time. Fishermen from West Nusa Tenggara, were recently arrested by a joint police and military team for dynamite fishing in the area, he emphasized.

Kamelus said the central government and the Kupang National Waters Conservation Agency must increase sea patrol activities in the area. The conservation agency also should coordinate with the Indonesian Navy based in Labuan Bajo, West Manggarai, to carry out routine patrols, adding that a vessel had been prepared for the Navy to carry out routine patrols.

“The Sawu Sea National Park must continue to coordinate with police and military personnel to increase monitoring activities in the area,” he said.

The regent said blast fishing could damage coral reefs and killed sea biota. “Let’s save the Sawu Sea National Park from blast fishing. I hope all village heads and fishermen from around the national park will work cooperatively and inform the appropriate authorities if they spot fishermen perpetrating blast fishing,” said Kamelus. (ebf)(+)

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