Caribbean blast fishing

Mike Mascia mbm4 at
Wed Oct 21 20:11:11 EDT 1998

	Just a late note on the conversation regarding blast fishing in
the Caribbean.  I have just returned from Barbados, where Section 19 of
the Fisheries Regulations of 1904 (yes, 1904) explicitly prohibited the
use of "dynamite or other explosive substance with intent thereby to take
or destroy fish".  I have not identified the origins of blast fishing in
Barbados, but this certainly suggests that blast fishing was a concern in
Barbados or elsewhere in the Caribbean at the turn of the century. 

	Instead of using dynamite on reefs, conversations with fishers in
Barbados indicate that dynamite has traditionally been used in sandy bays
to target pelagic species such as mullet, jacks, and coevallys. 
Dynamiting does sometimes occur on reefs, but reefs are generally not the
target area and are avoided because of the known destructive impacts of
dynamiting on the habitat.  Some species targeted by dynamite fishers,
such as mullet, are reportedly extremely difficult for local fishers to
harvest with other available technologies and thus dynamite is used as a
way to capture fish that would otherwise be unharvested, or harvested less

	Since seine nets and dynamite in Barbados are generally used to
target the same fishery resources, dynamite is also used by fishing
communities that do not own a seine net to make sure that they do not
"lose their fish" to seine net fishermen from other communities.  Dynamite
is used to provide more equal access to fishery resources among
communities with different levels of wealth/access to fishing technology. 

	Thus the use of dynamite in Barbados does not appear to be a
response to extreme poverty, but rather a strategic approach to fisheries
harvesting with both efficiency and equity components.  This is not the
'traditional model' of blast fishing with which I am familiar, so I would
welcome replies from others regarding their experiences. 

Mike Mascia	

Michael B. Mascia
Ph.D. candidate-environmental policy
Duke University School of the Environment
Marine Laboratory				phone: (252) 504-7566 
135 Duke Marine Lab Road			fax: (252) 504-7648
Beaufort, NC 28516-9721 USA			email: mbm4 at

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