Lessons Learn from the Transformation of Cyanide Fishing to Community Base Coastal Resource Management
If you spend a few days on Bokori Island – Kendari, for example, then you will be familiar with the sound of blast fishing which the local people do to catch fish every day. Or perhaps you want to visit the coral reefs in the eastern Indonesian waters, then you will notice several boats equipped with compressors supplying oxygen to the divers who are busy spraying cyanide on fishes hiding inside and between the reefs. The above two examples show how destructive fishing still occurs unhindered. The same activities, unfortunately, have been practiced elsewhere in Indonesia. In fact, field data shows that more than 50% of reef fish production (both for consumption and ornamental purposes) is caught using these destructive techniques. It has been five decades since this problem first arose and it keeps going on unabated with even increasing intensity.
These practices not only destruct the fish habitat but also serve as a breeding ground for corruption, collusion and nepotism for several law enforcers. It is general knowledge to the fishermen that the immorality of our law enforcers is one factor why such problem is difficult to handle. The monitoring and enforcement operations carried out are in fact become the means to blackmail the fishermen involved in destructive fishing, which in this case do not tackle the problem but further stimulate such practice, because the fishermen feel that all matters are handled just by paying off the officers.
Meanwhile, the conditions of the coral reefs are degrading. In several areas, harvests are declining and poverty is increasing. More children are dropping out of school. Do we want this condition to continue?
Results from several assistance activities carried out by Telapak and its partners show that government efforts to solve the problem of destructive fishing have not yet touched the root of the problem itself. On the contrary, they are stimulating new opportunities to increase such activities. Legal measures taken perceive the fish catching actors as a potential source of money. Even if they were arrested, only few that would actually go to court. While on the other hand, the fishermen themselves feel there are no other alternative livelihoods. What these fishermen need is an opportunity to an alternative source of income by placing them as objects of reform and not as money resource or objects that must be destroyed.
Under the current system, jail is not the main solution to the problem. Community approach and assistance that will give them opportunities to reform is the best way to solve this problem. This book talks about lessons learned from Telapak’s field experiences from 1999 – 2004 in compiling data and developing a collaborative learning process with the fishermen who are actors in destructive fishing in several regions in Indonesia.
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