Indonesia: Blast fishing hurts Sawu Sea’s marine habitats

Djemi Amnifu The Jakarta Post 18 Sep 16;

Blast fishing, which often occurs in East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) waters, especially around Sumba Island, has expanded to parts of the Sawu Sea National Park’s (TNP) conservation area.

“[Dynamite fishing] perpetrators tend to choose coral reef areas, where most fish can be found. They expanded their operational areas to parts of the Sawu Sea TNP as it has a high coral reef diversity,” Kupang National Conservation Area Agency (BKPPN) head Ikram Sangadji told journalists on Friday.

He added that destructive fishing could instantly lower fish populations and reduce marine biodiversity, including coral reefs and sea biota associated with the coral reef ecosystem.

One fish bomb using a 1.5 liter bottle can destroy 10 square meters of coral reef.

“Blast fishing has a very large and extensive impact. It can lead to a significant decline in fish populations and other sea creatures in coral reefs,” said Ikram.

In response to growing fish bombing practices in the area, he said, the BKPPN in April established the Destructive Fishing Response Team, through which the NTT Water Police (Polair) and the Navy are actively involved in monitoring the conservation of fisheries and maritime resources in the province.

Citing data, Ikram said regencies heavily affected by destructive fishing around Flores Island included East Flores, Ende, Lembata, Sikka and West Manggarai. In the southern areas, Central Sumba, East Sumba, Southwestern Sumba and West Sumba were most affected, he added.

“From our identification results, we can say that the perpetrators of blast fishing in Sumba are from areas outside NTT, such as Bima, Sape and Sumbawa — all in West Nusa Tenggara,” said Ikram. (ebf)

Central government urged to protect Sawu Sea against blast fishing
Djemi Amnifu The Jakarta Post 19 Sep 16;

East Sumba regent Gidion Mbilijora has blamed excessive blast fishing for destroying parts of the Sawu Sea National Park (TNP) in East Nusa Tenggara, leading to a rapid decline in fish populations.

“We want the central government to pay closer attention to this matter. The interests of fishermen living in the area should not be neglected,” he told journalists on Friday.

The regent added that he fully supported the government’s decision to name the TNP Sawu Sea a conservation area in a bid to sustain its ecosystem.

“Therefore, tighter security and monitoring are needed to protect the TNP Sawu Sea, so it will not be damaged,” Gidion said.

Blast fishing, sometimes called fish bombing, has grown rapidly in East Sumba, particularly in Tanjung Sasar, Saluran and Manggudu waters and in Napu.

“The fish bombing is committed by people from outside [the area], namely from Sumbawa [in West Nusa Tenggara],” said Gidion.

He said traditional communities living in 15 districts across East Sumba regency, which has 443 kilometers of coastline, were fully aware of the importance to conserve maritime and coastal areas. Apart from working as fishermen, they also depended on seaweed farming for their livelihoods.

“They truly understand that catching fish with bombs and potassium will kill small fish and destroy coral reefs,” said Gidion.

“We cannot do anything to prevent destructive fishing in our area, because we don’t have the necessary supporting facilities and infrastructure. We don’t have vessels [for sea patrols], for instance. We have put in a request with the Fisheries and Maritime Affairs Ministry but received no response yet,” he said. (ebf)

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