Thursday, July 26, 2012

Fishermen bomb Indonesian coral reef

Environmentalists say use of explosives in waters of national park is destroying delicate marine ecosystem. The Komodo National Park in Indonesia is home to one of the world's most well-preserved coral reefs.
However, it is being destroyed by illegal fishing. More than 60 fishermen have been arrested for using explosives and poison to guarantee themselves a good catch. Al Jazeera’s Step Vaessen reports from Komodo Island. Illegal Fishing, Cyanide Bombs and Dynamite Destroying Indonesian Coral Reefs
Illegal fishing has badly damaged the marine ecosystem off Menjangan Island in Buleleng regency, 100 kilometers northwest of Denpasar. Emanuel Jarakana, a dive operator from Spoce Dive, said many local fishermen were still using cyanide bombs to catch fish, thus destroying coral reefs and underwater life in the waters of Menjangan and Tulamben in Karangasem regency. "The bombs contain toxic chemicals that endanger the marine environment. They can kill millions of young fish and damage the precious coral reefs, which function as a balancing factor in the marine ecosystem," Jarakana said Wednesday during an event to commemorate Earth Day, at Lovina Beach, Buleleng regency. Menjangan Island and Tulamben are well-known as Bali's top dive sites. Menjangan Island has eight beautiful dive sites, including Ranger Hut, Bat Cave, Underwater Cave, Ancor Wreck, Sand Slove, Underwater Buy, and Garden Ell.
For the past five years, a number of organizations and the local administration have been working hard to restore the marine ecosystem in Menjangan and Tulamben waters. Both areas were devastated by illegal fishing and over exploitation of coral reefs. Projects were carried out to treat the damaged coral reefs and to educate local fishermen about safe fishing methods. The results were astounding. Fish are returning, and the coral reefs are growing healthier. But in the past few months, dive operators have found coral reefs being damaged again because of the resumption of illegal fishing activities. "We're collaborating with officials from Menjangan National Park and a local fishermen's group to guard the waters and find out who the perpetrators are," Jarakana said. The Earth Day commemoration was jointly organized by Reef Check Indonesia, the Lovina Rotary Club and Coca-Cola. The program included the Beach Clean Campaign, Green School Program and a painting contest.

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