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Over the past decade, the use of destructive
fishing techniques has become a worldwide concern in its role
in the degradation of corals reefs. In particular, the use
of blast fishing is one of the most destructive techniques.
In this article, I will describe how the aquarium trade can
turn this practice around and utilize such techniques for
its own end.
The Practice of Dynamite Fishing
Because so much of the world's ocean fisheries
and, in particular, fisheries surrounding coral reefs have
become so depleted from commercial fishing, methods have been
developed by local fisherman to collect the maximum number
of fishes per effort. Included among these methods are the
innovative methods of using sticks of dynamite and homemade
bombs. Fisherman have found that by having one member of a
fishing party in the water spotting fish schools, they can
then signal the other members to lob sticks of dynamite and
homemade bombs into the water, exploding underwater and resulting
in vast numbers of fish being successfully killed.
fishing is the wave of the future. Water blows up real
The process of acquiring sticks of dynamite
and/or TNT is often regulated and therefore might be difficult
for fishermen to acquire. The Acme dynamite company is frequently
sold out of such products, often because of high demand by
other industries such as Warner Bros, the Road Runner Conservation
Fund, and various terrorist networks. The Bush administration
is working on supplying alternative explosives to these industries,
but recent demands for explosives have been diverted to other
efforts in the past few months. Fortunately, the pioneering
works of private individuals, such as Timothy McVeigh, have
allowed third world countries to take basic information and
create their own materials from locally plentiful resources.
Coyote's efforts to capture the Road Runner have put
a serious dent in the supply of dynamite available to
those who need it most: the modern blast fisherman.
In the making of a fish bomb, kerosene
is combined with fertilizer and the explosive mixture is poured
into a glass bottle, such as a Coke bottle. The foil wrapper
from a cigarette pack is laid out flat and filled with the
carefully pulverized heads of wooden matches. The foil is
then rolled up, creating a makeshift fuse. The matchstick
heads must be carefully sorted to remove any bits of wood
that may unacceptably increase the burn rate of the fuse.
The fuse is then stuck into the bottle, and the bottle made
water-tight by stuffing the rubber part of a flip-flop sandal
around the fuse into the bottle. Flip-flops are fortunately
very common in tropical areas, and an additional resource
is available because of the plentiful amount of sandals and
plastics thrown overboard and washed onto tropical beaches
around the world. Sometimes, during turtle poaching, flip-flops
can even be found in the stomachs of the illegal quarry. Thus,
costly trips to shore to acquire new flip-flops can sometimes
be avoided, allowing bombing to continue unabated while offshore.
On a typical day, blast fisherman may use as
many as half of the flip-flops pictured here.
Once a bomb is made and lit, is it tossed
towards a fish-spotter and if correctly fused, the bomb explodes
in the midst of a school of fish, or on the reef, where it
shatters the reef and pulverizes fish. Sometimes, fish are
merely stunned and float to the surface. Other times, chunks
of fish result, eliminating the time consuming need for gutting
and filleting. Equally often, the majority of fish sink and
are unavailable for consumption by the fisherman and their
clients, but that's ok, too, for the mass of dead fish merely
feed the bottom community and provide needed food for other
hungry animals. Sharks are frequently attracted by this bounty,
and this can provide ample opportunity for the shark finning
groups to gain an advantage over their competition.
The biggest downside seen to this practice
is that occasionally fishermen are also blown to bits by the
bombs, and many fishermen have lost body appendages, as well.
However, such lost appendages can potentially be used in transplants
for other injuries or for medical experiments. Furthermore
hampering the otherwise innovative blast techniques, glass
shards in the fish captured must sometimes be removed from
the catch prior to cooking them. There is currently no way
of getting around this unfortunate complication, except to
say that candlelight reflecting on a fish dinner with glass
shards impregnated in the flesh can be absolutely stunning,
and may do away with any needs for other garnish or food presentation
enhancements. Many have stated that the nuances and subtle
flavors of various grades of kerosene and fertilizer enhance
the flavor of certain fish species. Fishermen have been experimenting
with various combinations that result in the most desirable
of fuel/ammonium flavor complexities.
Further Advantages of Blast Fishing
Perhaps most desirable among the side effects
of blast fishing is that the reef is blown into small bits
of unconsolidated rubble that may never recover. Bombs can
blow a 20m diameter piece of reef into bejillions of little
bits. Such reef rubble no longer makes it difficult to get
nets into the reef to collect fish for the aquarium trade,
fishing lines will no longer become entangled, anchors will
no longer be ensnared, swimming areas for tourists are created,
and all manner of boats will be able to approach shorelines
unimpeded by the reefs. Perhaps most fortuitous is that the
blast creates thousands upon thousands of coral fragments
and pieces of live rock that can be used by the aquarium trade.
This is certainly an area that can be exploited by the aquarium
trade. Why use crowbars or tedious mariculture to collect
or produce coral fragments and live rock when bombs can be
used much more efficiently?
Blast fishing is the way of the future.
Who needs coral reefs when all we really need are the products
of coral reefs? The many advantages of blast fishing are clearly
shown, and no longer do we need to bother with pesky green
ideas like coral aquaculture, sustainable fisheries, reef
management. Diving tourism may be the only real industry negatively
affected, but divers are an annoying lot for the most part.
They are sucking up all our air anyway. I say that any unused
explosives for current warmongering be put into immediate
use by fishermen all over the world, and let them use it to
provide use with more fish and corals. After all, the use
of coral reef species should not be used up just so some countries
get a bunch of aphrodisiacs and continue to overpopulate the