Kepulauan Seribu or the Thousand Islands are a chain of islands to the north of Jakarta’s coast. They consist of a string of 110 islands stretching 45 km north into the Java Sea. Described as possibly the best coral reefs on the doorstep of a major capital city anywhere in the world, they understandably face some environmental pressure such as pollution, tourism and development. (the local inhabitants of the thousand islands still like to use the coral for building houses and foundations).
However, the additional pressure of fishing just adds to this environmental stress, NGOs and the government have convinced the fisherman that cyanide fishing and dynamite fishing are unacceptable and cause much wastage and huge damage to the reefs.
I happened upon a group of fisherman who had been out fishing all morning sorting their catch out via size and species. It appears that they have caught kilos and kilos of fish. However, a lot were waste fish (too young, wrong species etc) You can see them littered all of the deck and some were given to the young children hanging around. Apparently if a young child asks for some free fish it is bad luck to not give them some as their next fishing outing will be quite meagre.
However, a little inspection of the boat tells an interesting story. those hoses and air compressor indicate that they were using a compression bomb to concuss or kill all the fish on the reef with a few metres radius. They can then collect all the stunned or dead fish as they float to the surface. Much more efficient for the fishermen in the short term. These fellows only had to ‘fish’ for a few hours that morning to catch this haul. However, such an indiscriminate fishing method takes all the fish in the area, big and small, food and waste, not just the targeted fish.
I can understand their wish to feed their families and make money for the least effort possible, but I despair at the damage that they are doing to the fish communities on these reefs!