Destructive Fishing Practices

Dynamite fishing, as depicted in the picture above, is pretty much what it sounds like: toss an explosive devise overboard (hopefully away from the boat), cover your ears and scoop up all the stunned and dead fish.

Easy right? Problem is, this isn’t exactly sustainable since the act of fishing destroys the habitat fish need to survive. This is analogous to burning down a forest to catch a deer. It works once in a given location, but not twice.

There are many types of fishing that destroy the habitat of the targeted fish including cyanide fishing and bottom trawling. Besides being economically self-destructive, these forms of fishing are ecosystem killers and harm critters and people that depend on marine habitats for their livelihoods.

Read a nice piece about how destructive fishing practices can kill corals at the Encyclopedia of earth here; also excerpted below.  Also see three great photoessays by James Morgan on cyanide fishing, dynamite fishing and fishing for the aquarium trade on Huff Post.

By Kate McClellan

Cyanide fishing is a method used to stun reef fish in order to collect them, which causes damage to the surrounding coral reefs. First practiced in the Philippines in 1962, the purpose of cyanide fishing is mainly to supply live fish for the aquarium trade. Since the 1980s, it has been conducted on a much larger scale to provide live reef fish to restaurants in Hong Kong, Singapore, and mainland China. It is estimated that 4000 or more Filipino fish collectors have used over 1 million kilograms of cyanide on Philippine reefs alone, about 150,000 kg per year.

Blast fishing is a type of destructive fishing that uses dynamite or other homemade explosives to kill or stun reef fish. The practice has been in existence for centuries and is currently conducted on reefs in at least 40 countries or islands around the world. In Southeast Asia, blast fishing is one of the largest causes of reef degradation. There are a variety of blast devices used in local fishing operations, the most common being a homemade bomb constructed of a bottle with layers of powdered potassium nitrate and pebbles. Other bombs are built using inexpensive commercial fuses or blasting caps to use them from the surface, or with gasoline, fertilizers, and sugar. Fishermen collect the fish that float to the surface and divers are used to gather fish hiding on the reef. The use of blast devices is economically efficient – a single bomb costs about 1-2 US dollars to build, while the resulting catch is worth between 15 and 40 US dollars. Blast fishing is a dangerous fishing technique that causes many accidents, such as limb loss (see here); however, the practice is profitable enough to justify the risk.

Read the whole piece here

One Response to “Destructive Fishing Practices”

  1. Helen Scales says:

    I had a terrifying experience with an underwater bomb going off while I was scuba diving in Borneo a few years ago. The viz was terrible, making it even more scary when this immense sound ripped through the water. My dive buddy and I looked in horror at each other and headed straight for the surface (luckily it was a shallow dive). Turned out the fishermen was at least a couple of miles off. Don’t want to imagine what would have happened if he’d been any closer.

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