The Sustainable Aquarium Industry Association and NDR Media of Germany have published to YouTube a video showing how sustenance fishermen on Palawan island in the Philippines employ the illegal practice of dynamite fishing to harvest large schools of food fish, damaging many coral reefs in the process. The video is disturbing in that it shows exactly how the bombs are made and discusses with the local people why they employ this practice of fishing. Even though that most of the fishermen know it is illegal to use dynamite to catch fish, some ignore the law and continue to practice this type of fishing, even after spending time in jail for it.
What does this mean to the aquarium industry even though ornamental marine fish are not the target of these fishermen? Well, if the practice of dynamite fishing continues unabated, as it has in the Philippines for the last 25+ years and more, the reefs that are in the general target areas will continue to suffer. I have seen firsthand the destruction that dynamite fishing does to coral reefs in the Philippines and in 1989 visited multiple provinces in the island nation where the practice was rampant.
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The destruction to the reefs back then was massive on the small sections of oceans that I visited. Having free dived several areas off Quezon province, I’ve seen the destruction. There is no telling what shape the island nation’s reefs are in today, but it can’t be better than 25 years ago.
While folks in Western countries such as Germany and the United States abhor the practice of dynamite fishing, those in the Philippines, Indonesia and other regions in the Coral Triangle where the practice occurs are more than likely not educated to the effects that blowing up reefs will have on their livelihood, nor have the resources to employ methods that don’t harm the reefs. Education is key here and hopefully those in the industry will make an effort to educate those in other countries who employ this destructive practice and perhaps even supply them with alternative tools to ply their trade. A $500 marine aquarium fish collected in Philippine waters can also purchase quite a few fishing nets that could be donated to those who don’t even make $500 in a single year.