An Australian has posted a YouTube video of Indonesian fisherman using dynamite to stun and capture fish on the reefs of the Mentawai Islands in Indonesia, a popular surfing and diving destination. The video shows five bombs going off in less than five minutes in the area, causing considerable damage to the reefs off the island. For decades, dynamite fishing has been a cause for concern in Indonesia and the Philippines, two countries where the vast majority of marine species are collected for the aquarium trade occurs. This author has seen the destruction first hand, having free dived off Bataan and Quezon provinces in the Philippines and witnessed once pristine reefs turned into rubble in less than a week.
While this practice leads to short term income for those fishermen who practice this type of fishing, the effects of blowing up the reefs are long lasting, as the reefs, which take hundreds and even thousands of years to grow, are destroyed in just a few minutes. And when the reefs are destroyed, fish don’t congregate there, and the dynamite fishermen move on to the next pristine reef.
The person who uploaded the YouTube video apparently contacted the local authorities and even made calls to Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia about the practice and was met with deaf ears.
In July 2012, the Indonesian Institute of Sciences, which is the government authority for science and research in the country, reported that up to 90 percent of Asia’s reefs in the Asia Coral Triangle (countries that make up the Coral Triangle include Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste) are at risk of disappearing due to such factors as dynamite and other explosive fishing, mining runoff, and coral bleaching. The institute surveyed and monitored 77 regions in the Indonesian archipelago and determined that 70 percent of the reefs that were surveyed were either damaged or destroyed. The Coral Triangle is home to nearly 30 percent of the world’s coral reefs and more than 3,000 fish species.