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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Muroami : The Destruction

The Muroami fishing technique, employed on coral reefs in Southeast Asia, uses an encircling net together with pounding devices. These devices usually comprise large stones fitted on ropes that are pounded onto the coral reefs. They can also consist of large heavy blocks of cement that are suspended above the sea by a crane fitted to the vessel. The pounding devices are repeatedly and violently lowered into the area encircled by the net, literally smashing the coral in that area into small fragments in order to scare the fish out of their coral refuges. The "crushing" effect of the pounding process on the coral heads has been described as having long lasting and practically totally destructive effects.

Muroami netting is a dangerous fishing practice that has led to extensive coral reef deterioration in the region.  In many countries that use this practice, as many as 300 young boys, 10 to 15 years old, are used to set the nets and bang on the coral. They are called Muro-Ami or Reef Hunter. This is also one of the worst forms of child labor in the illegal fishing system. The divers, who consist mostly of children, usually have to take at least few dives a day.

Muroami or Kayakas is a Japanese-inspired fishing technique that once devastated the fragile marine life of the country. The procedure comprises groups of swimmers particularly children that are harnessed to a waiting net loaded down with scarelines like coconut leaves or plastic streamers attached to it at 1 meter intervals to create the illusion of a wall and dragged across the ocean floor as it slowly traps in on the fish. It also involves sending a large group of divers to depths of 30-90 feet, without protective clothing or gear save for homemade wooden goggles. These divers plunge into the waters below armed with metal weights or large stones fitted on ropes to vigorously pound or bang on corals to drive fish out and into the waiting nets. Corals are eventually smashed in the process. 

This one of the cruelest, most cataclysmic forms of illegal fishing that destroys the coral reefs and exploits children. This practice consequently destroys corals which take whole lifetimes to form and causes the deaths of some of these unfortunate children. For casualties ensuing from these practices (either a kid gets caught in the big net that they use), bodies are left in the shoreline because they are too expensive to return to their homes.

Note: I will be posting more about Muroami in the next few post. I really hope we can do something about this dangerous way of fishing that have taken many lives and destroyed our ecosystem for the sake of greed. So stay tune.


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