coral blasting

J. Charles Delbeek delbeek at
Tue Sep 22 12:52:58 EDT 1998

As always it is the age old dilemna of offering alternatives. Unless one
can offer them alternatives, native peoples will do what is necessary for
short term survival. 

J. Charles Delbeek M.Sc.

"The fact that my physiology differs from yours pleases me to no end." 
Mr. Spock

On Mon, 21 Sep 1998, Hoeksema, B.W. wrote:

> In reply to the message of Doug Fenner:
> North Flores was considered one of the best dive areas in Indonesia 
> until December 1992, when an earthquake occurred, followed by
> a tsunami and a cyclone (see "Diving Indonesia, A guide to the
> World's Greatest Diving", edition 1996: p. 152). Apparently,
> blast fishing is removing the corals that have remained so far.
> Until August 1998, I have been studying the effect of blast fishing at 
> South Sulawesi during the last 4.5 years. On average, I heard two blasts
> every hour  underwater. Some of the explosions were close and other 
> ones were far away since the sound of blasts can be carried over long 
> distances through water.
> Coral recovery appears to be a slow process with little long-term 
> effect since the blast craters contain rubble that does not
> form a solid and safe substratum to young coral recruits.
> Blast fishing is a well-known practice in SE Asia that has 
> been difficult to control since the first decades of this century.
> Although the price of rice has increased in Indonesia, so has the price
> of fish. Especially fishermen who cater to the export business earn much
> money (Dollars converted into Rupiahs). This group of rich fishermen, 
> however, is a small minority.
> If the occurrence of blast fishing has increased due to the
> economic crisis in Indonesia, then this would indeed be a disaster
> for the reefs with consequences for a long time.
> It is likely that fishermen would go to reefs more remote
> if the reefs nearby would become useless as a resource. This
> can also be seen in the over-fishing of sea cucumbers. Their (export)
> price has increased drastically (in Dollars and even more Rupiahs). 
> However, with regard to blast fishing, most fishermen are after
> pelagics, 
> like schools of mackerels and fuseliers, and these are not necessarily 
> depending on healthy coral reefs. It is just that they can be caught
> more 
> easily above shoals of 3-7 m depth after they become hit by a blast and 
> sink to the bottom. Blasts in the open sea are useless because the fish 
> would sink out of reach, unless the fishermen would use expensive nets. 
> Fishermen who use explosives are aware that they cause damage to their 
> environment. Just telling them about this is not enough. They are among
> the poorest people in Indonesia and they often risk their lifes at sea. 
> For them it is a matter of survival which is difficult to comprehend by
> most of
> us who sit in front of a screen on our desk.
> Doug Fenner's message is right in bringing this problem to
> our attention. The problem is that we have not been able to stop what
> has been going on for decades. And now it appears to have become
> worse than ever. I wonder who or which organisation can do something
> about this.
> Best regards,
> Bert W. Hoeksema
> Bert W. Hoeksema
> National Museum of Natural History Naturalis
> P.O. Box 9517
> 2300 RA  Leiden
> The Netherlands
> Tel.: +31.71.5687631
> Fax: +31.71.5687666
> E-mail: Hoeksema at

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