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Quit Bombing Fish

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Focus Group Discussion on how to sustain maritime resources. (Photo: Tunas Bahari Maluku)

Local community working as fishermen in Maar Village used to be called the “Bomber” by the coastal communities in Seram Bagian Timur Island, Maluku Province. It might be regarded that nearly all fishers in Maar Village used explosive for fishing. Now, they gave over fishing using explosive or bomb to sustain the sea of Maluku in Indonesia. 

Tunas Bahari Maluku community found out the condition during the local wisdom expedition they held in early 2021 in Maar Village, Kilwaru Sub-district, in Seram Bagian Timur Regency. Most of the villagers work as fishermen because they reside in one of the small islands in Seram Timur District. 

At the time the expedition team engaged with the locals to discuss the fishers activities in Maar. The discussion dealt with fishing activities with unfriendly catching tools or destructive fishing.

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However, on the discussion, they admitted that had never caught fish using explosive. “Fishermen in Maar Village has not used catching tools that are not eco-friendly any longer,” said Taha, a local fisher in Maar.

The team acquired information that fishing using explosive had claimed victims and even brought about lifelong disability. With such a victim, it is expected the fishers could stop using explosive to ensure sustainable ocean in Indonesia. “I personally have quit using bomb for the past five to ten years due to the government’s ban,” said Taha.

The team also met La Engko, a local fisherman who lost his left arm when he was too late to throw out the explosive. As to Taha, they used bomb at the time due to some reasons. One of them was the existence of other fishers coming from other places. They could hardly compete against the outside fishers who earned larger armada with better catching tools. “We should compete (against other fishermen) because we had limited armada and catching tools if compared to what they had,” Taha added. 

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Taha told that urgent domestic needs and school tuition for the children had forced the local fishers to get as much fish as they could in such a short time to meet their daily needs.

On the other hand, they realized that what they did was putting their lives at risk and damaged the environment. But their dire needs made them to commit the wrongdoing.

Coastal community and those living in small islands commonly earn their living from the sea both as fishers or entrepreneur from fishery. Their lives rely on sea product and fisheries, cultivation, and environmental service such as sea transportation and tourism. 

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To survive amidst the tough competitive live, the coastal and small islands communities make every effort to meet their needs including from destructive fishing which is eco-friendly. 

According to Rokhmin Dahuri, the former Minister for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries 2001-2004, on the factors causing the lack of fisheries resources is the use of destructive fishing tool. The unfriendly fishing tool is deemed illegal fishing. The use of explosive, trawls, and other unselected fishing tools has threatened the sustainability of sea resources. This leads to the degraded sea biota and fish resources. 

*The writer is activist of Tunas Bahari Maluku community

editor: Leo Wahyudi

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