The beauty of underwater coral reefs and the ecosystem around Menjangan Island, one of the most popular diving sites in Bali, is on the brink of destruction as the practice of fish bombing carried out by local fishermen is on the rise. The bombings, which use homemade explosives to catch fish, are among the most destructive fishing methods as they inflict irreversible damage on coral reefs, which serve as the basis of underwater ecosystems. According to divers and environmental activists, it takes years for a coral population to grow just a few inches.
At an informal gathering held Tuesday at Lovina Beach, Buleleng, scores of local diving operators lamented the present state of Menjangan Island’s and urged the local administration and security agencies to take firm measures to save the island. “We truly regret the ongoing waves of fish bombings that have taken place over the past month. “If the authorities don’t take the necessary steps to protect the island then we believe this jewel of biodiversity will be damaged beyond repair,” said Imanuel Jarakana, from Spice Dive-Lovina.
The fish bombing, he stressed, had caused damage at several diving points around the island. “The worst damage is located in the offshore area known as Pos III, which is located on the northern side of the island. We have calculated that fish bombing has destroyed 50 percent of that area,” he added. The gathering was attended by Dewa Made Japa (Sunrise Dive), Anie Safari (Permai Dive), Putu Sudarma (Wisnu Dive), July (Jubawa Dive Shop) and Yono (Yos Dive Centre).
“We have received numerous complaints from visitors. They say they have encountered a growing number of dead fish and damaged coral reefs during their dives,” said Dewa Made Japa. The diving operators said that despite the rising waves of fish bombing, they had yet to see any concrete action from security agencies and the local administration. They claim that none of the local security agencies have carried out regular patrols to protect the island, or to capture the fishermen responsible for the destructive practises.
“That fish bombing practices are on the rise means one thing � that security officers are not doing their jobs,” said Anie Safari. The indifference showed by both the local administration and security agencies, according to local dive operators, was perplexing, particularly since the administration had increased the price of tickets to enter the island from Rp 5,000 to Rp 20,000. “How can they increase the price of admission tickets, but fail to increase measures to protect the island?” asked Putu Sudarma.
They recalled that a similar situation had occurred five years ago. At that time, security agencies, environmental NGOs and dive operators had worked together to stop the bombings and rehabilitate the damaged coral reefs. “In the last two years, the condition of the underwater ecosystem has improved greatly. The improvement drives the number of visitors and the level of their satisfaction,” Imanuel added. An average of 100 divers visit the island each day.
Source: The Jakarta Post , July 29, 2009, Article by Alit Kertaraharja