During the Second World War, a number of navy personnel operating in Asia made use of grenades to catch fish. The blast from a single grenade killed many fish, large and small, and the ones that floated to the surface were easily netted in quantity. The technique of catching fish using underwater explosions quickly caught on with local fishermen as it is simple and ruthlessly efficient, at least as far as the time taken to catch the fish is concerned.
In more peaceful times after World War II, local fishermen learnt how to make their own explosives, or in some cases made use of caches of ordinance from military conflicts. Initially, the fishermen would target shallow coral reef areas, causing widespread damage to the coral structures that support the reef fish. As a consequence, fish populations rapidly declined in many areas and to maintain their catch fishermen moved on to fresh areas, further and further from their home villages. Large regions of once productive coral reefs have been decimated by the migration of blast fishing and although most countries have passed laws to prohibit it, the practice continues largely unchecked.
Enforcement of anti-blast fishing regulations has proved to be difficult. Many of the fishing areas are remote and the blasts go unnoticed. (Although blasts produce a lot of sound, it is trapped underwater and little escapes to reach the ears of the authorities.) In addition, it is difficult to prove that a fisherman used blasting in a court of law, as the evidence – fish and explosives – are readily disposed of once the fisherman see a patrol boat coming.
Whilst it is sometimes the case that artisinal fishermen are driven to such destructive techniques through poverty, much blast fishing activity is undertaken for profit. Even if the economy of coastal regions could be improved by governments or other agencies, there is a requirement for more effective enforcement of the law.
Do you know that the damage and poison takes like sooo many years to grow back the corals. Aaaargh, this makes me sad. The whole thing sounds so terrible, so stupid, so foolish, so senseless. Wouldn’t it be great if there is no bombing and all the fishermen were educated? Or there is a strict law and enough manpower to build some kind of worldwide joint-forces army to tackle these destructive way of fishing. It is one of our world’s asset. The fish needs coral to live. Human needs fish to live. We need each other. We should educate more of the people. Before it’s too late. Remember, only together we can tackle these threats.