Pratas Reef Damage/Cervino/AP/Post

Gregor Hodgson rcgregor at
Sun May 17 05:32:09 EDT 1998

We tend to be skeptical of reports of complete wipe-outs of large remote
reefs attributed solely to human impacts -- large storms and other
natural factors are more likely to cause such widespread damge. In this
case, however, we have confirmation of some of the AP report on damage
to Pratas Reef from Taiwanese colleagues who witnessed blast and cyanide
fishing. The news was based on the recent expedition of Taiwan's
National Marine Biology Museum and Aquarium as well as some news
reporters including TVBS, the most famous cable TV channel in Taiwan.

The expedition reported that, "The reef even inside the lagoon and
inside the gun-fire range was seriously damaged or totally destroyed
compared to what we had seen a few years ago. (What is the outside
like?GH) The TV reporters took quite a lot of photos and video film.
They also saw and even talked with those fishermen who were poisoning
and blasting the fishes on site. After further investigation to the
soldiers and those fishermen, they know the causes and unfortunately
that soldier there dare not to chase them away even they intrude into
the territory because of the political sensitivity between two sides.
(Two sides were not named, but looking at a map you can guess. GH).

We are really sad because the reef at Pratas Island was really
beautiful and well protected a few years ago but now just like coral's

As the Reef Check 1997 global survey showed, this sad news is
unfortunately being repeated all over the world as fishermen are
"forced" to travel farther and use more rapacious methods to obtain
sufficient catch. At present, the most effective deterrent to the
live-fish trade targeting large reef fish is the continuing series of
ciguatera cases hitting Hong Kong -- 68 cases in the past two months and

Join Reef Check 98 and help spread the word that Governments need to
exert more effort to control fishing as part of reef management. For
those with an interest in Taiwan reefs, contact the Taiwan Reef Check
co-coordinator "K. Soong" <keryea at>
Reef Check website:
Gregor Hodgson, PhD
Institute for Environment and Sustainable Development
Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
Clearwater Bay, Hong Kong
Tel: (852) 2358-8568 Fax: (852) 2358-1582
Email: <rcgregor at>

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