Blast fishing troubles C Sulawesi`s fishermen

Mamuju, W Sulawesi (ANTARA News) - The blast fishing activities in the waters of West Tapalang village, Central Sulawesi, had caused shortages of fish, a fisherman said.

As a result, lots of traditional fishermen, including himself, could no longer get fish easily, Rusdi, the fisherman, said here Saturday.

Rusdi said blast fishing operations in Central Sulawesi waters might have destroyed coral reefs that affected the fish population in the area.

Fishing net fishermen need to go further into the sea to catch fish, he said.

Sharing Rusdi`s deep concern, Isram said fishing net fishermen like himself had actually already warned fishermen using explosives in catching fish.

But they ignored the warnings athough they realized the bad impacts of fishing with explosives on the sustainability of coral reefs and fish resources, which finally caused other fishermen to suffer, he said.

Due to the danger of blast fishing, he called on the police to take stern action the perpetrators.

"If the blast fishing practitioners are left free, I am afraid the impacts will become worse," he said.

The blast fishing activities in various parts of Indonesia, including Central Sulawesi Province, have attracted world attention.

Endowed by nature with more than 50,000 square kilometers of coral reefs, Indonesia has been listed by the United Nations as a nation with the largest coral reef resources in the world, along with Australia and the Philippines.

According to the United Nations Environment Program World Conservation Monitoring Center (UNEP-WCMC)`s World Atlas of Coral Reefs (2001), Indonesia had 51,020 square kilometers of coral reefs or 17.95 percent of the world`s coral reefs.

This archipelagic nation topped the list , followed by Australia with 48,460 square kilometers, the Philippines (25,060), France (14,280), Papua New Guinea (13,840), Fiji (10,020), Maldives (8,920), Saudi Arabia (6,660), Marshall Islands (6,110) and India (5,790).

The benefits that Indonesia can get from its coral reefs are obvious because coral reefs are evidently the sources of food and income for a lot of people from fisheries and tourism and also sources of raw materials for medicines.

But the UNEC-WCMC has warned that activities, such as fishing using explosives, are seriously degrading coral reefs in various parts of the world, including in Indonesia.

The UN body`s warning is based on factual information collected over the years. Blast fishing itself has been practiced in Indonesia since World War II.

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