The Problem

Overfishing is a worldwide concern. With their destructive fishing techniques and massive demand in landings, the western countries are responsible for the biggest proportion of overfishing. The stocks of large predators such as tuna and sword fish have already declined by 90% (Myers & Worm 2003). For most of the species relevant for human consumption, the catchment rates recommended by scientists are neither accepted as guidelines by the European Commission of Fisheries (EC), nor are those guidelines realized by the fishing fleets. This has already resulted in the extreme reduction of, e.g. anchovy, herring and cod (Villasante et al. 2011).

The Indonesian seas are still regarded as some of the waters with the highest abundance in fish. However, even here, stocks have decreased during the last decade. This is partially because large fishing fleets from the densely populated western parts of Indonesia and from China, Taiwan and Japan are expanding their fishing grounds more and more towards the eastern seas of Indonesia. But also small fishermen villages are responsible for the overexploitation of fish stocks. Due to destructive fishing methods such as dynamite and cyanide fishing, even local fishermen have managed to destroy large reef flats. The single use of a self-made bomb – a glass bottle filled with dynamite – kills all corals, other invertebrates and fish within a distance of 50 m. It takes 10 years until the reef partially recovers and even much longer until it is back to the original state of health. Often, nets with a far too small mash width are used in areas where blast fishing is prohibited by now. These nets have an effect almost as destructive as blast fishing because they remove all living creatures from the shallow areas. Most often, these are exactly the areas important for the recruitment and growth of juvenile fish. Without the protection of the shallow reefs, fish don’t get a chance to reach maturity and reproduce.

Our local solution

The species-rich waters of Southeast Asia had a great capability of self-recovery, so far. With a growing human population and the more frequent practice of named fishing techniques, the capacity to recover has decreased or is even lost in some habitats. To assure that fishermen can continue to live from fisheries, Banda Sea e.V. organized education programs in alternative fishing methods. Fishermen are, for example, taught to construct and maintain fish aggregation platforms themselves. In many parts of Thailand and some parts of Indonesia this has proved to be an accepted and well-working solution.

Banda Sea e.V. also educates children in sustainable fishing techniques. We are always looking for voluntary teachers to teach marine biology and fisheries in local schools. The aim is to raise awareness among children so that they become motivated to protect the beautiful habitats in front of their doors. Courses in snorkeling are to make real what the children learned in theory in their class rooms. Only if the children develop a fascination for nature, they will later be able to spread the words among other villages and generations.

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