BLAST FISHING – A THREAT TO THE MARINE ECOSYSYTEM

INTRODUCTION

India’s fishing industry is a significant one. It supports the country’s food security by providing jobs for hundreds of individuals. Following China, India is currently the country’s second fish producer. Humans have always been the major cause of modifications to the coastal marine ecosystem, and pressures on coastal ecosystems are anticipated to worsen in the future and are projected to worsen coastal ecosystem conditions even further. Increased human impact on aquatic habitats has resulted in a slew of environmental concerns, including the elimination of crucial ecological systems. Numerous research shows that fishing is among the most significant human impacts on aquatic habitats, with unsustainable fishing tactics being one of the key hazards.

BLAST FISHING

Blast fishing, often referred to as dynamite fishing, is one of the leading causes of coral reef destruction. Fishing boats use it a lot since it gives them a better catch with little effort. Despite the fact that blast-fishing is unlawful, fishermen succumb to it pursuant to a desperate desire for even more yield, fueled by desperation. Blast fishing can be profitable, including both in terms of selling the fresh fish and in terms of illegally obtaining dynamite. People wrongly assume that blast fishing is eco-friendly since it only affects the small region where the explosive is launched; trawl fishing, on the other hand, is regarded to be more damaging because it sweeps the bottom and destroys smaller species.[1] It was also discovered that blast fishing is not confined to individuals who do not have alternative fishing tackle; almost every category of fisherman indulges in blast fishing since they all survive on a minimum wage and then use it to enhance traditional fishing techniques.

HISTORICAL CONTEXT

Blast fishing was first documented in Africa in the early 1960s, and although it has been curtailed in neighboring provinces, it is still a major issue in Tanzania. Blast fishing is conducted over the whole shoreline, and it frequently occurs among coral reefs, which are important habitats that provide supplies for local residents and draw inbound investment. Coral reefs are vital to Zambia’s ecosystem and economy. Salmon, crayfish, snails, crustaceans, cuttlefish, vertebrates, and sea turtles can all be found in them. Coral reefs are also one of Tanzania’s most popular tourist destinations.[2] However, the number of people working along the shore has increased, resulting in an increased demand for fishing. Overfishing and unsustainable fishing techniques have resulted as a result of this.

HAZARDS TO CORAL REEFS

Coral reefs are incredibly prolific. They seem to be of huge benefit to the world because they not only sustain tremendous species but also promote vast species. They are stunningly attractive, with seemingly unending patterns and development patterns, as well as providing an essential home for aquatic species. Coral reefs are now being badly affected at an escalating pace undersea as a result of both natural and artificial processes, despite their great significance. Fishermen commonly use explosives beneath the sea to narcotize and paralyze species, causing them to float to the top and be caught. However, by shattering the coral into snippets, this creates widespread destruction. Coral varieties that have been flourishing for tens of years are hurt in the crossfire of gathering these fish that are highly lucrative.[3] The explosives break the reef, ruining the ecosystem and resulting in a severe decrease in fishing, posing a shortage of food. It also contributes to beach flooding because the reefs are no longer able to shield the shore from the ocean. Even those that were bombarded four decades ago have failed to regenerate.

FRAMEWORK OF LEGAL POLICY FOR CORAL REEFS

In India, there is currently no legal or legislative structure for corals. The Environment (Protection) Act of 1986 and the Wildlife Protection Act (WPA) of 1972 are two of the legislation which can be used to safeguard coral regions in the nation. The Indian Fisheries Act, which dates back to the 1800s, is another rule that might have an impact on coral reefs.[4]

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are an effective instrument for ocean protection and sustainability. A Marine Protected Area is defined as follows by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature): “Any area of the intertidal or sub-tidal terrain, together with its overlying water and associated flora, fauna, historical and cultural features, which has been reserved by law or other effective means to protect part or the entire enclosed environment”. The WPA excludes reefs that do not fall under the jurisdiction of MPAs.

“If any person uses any dynamite or other explosive substance in any water with the intent of thereby catching or destroying any of the fish that may be therein, he shall be punishable by imprisonment for a term which may extend to two months, or by a fine which may extend to two hundred rupees under the Fisheries Act.”[5]

RECOMMENDATIONS

  • Coral reefs can indeed be conserved by implementing a framework of expanded Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and improving the existing MPA governance. Enforcement officers can police the region for illicit fish stocks, and MPAs can be used to establish “no-take” regions that prohibit all catching. Hunting and travel that are well-managed within an MPA can have substantial social benefits.
  • Countries must work together to manage seafood imports and exports so that only sustainable fisheries can be imported and exported. Ultimately, governments might accept and execute the Code of Practice for Responsible Fisheries developed by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. This declaration encourages the administration, non-governmental institutions, and businesses to work together to promote environmentally friendly fishing methods.

CONCLUSION

Humanity, which has an inherent desire to be friendly to all, has, sadly, misplaced its natural benevolence. It is imperative that we live in harmony with the environment, animals, and aquatic habitats. Everybody should be acquainted with aquatic ecosystems, issues, and possibilities to maintain the preservation of coastal ecosystems. If the general tendency persists, subsequent generations will most likely have to satisfy themselves by viewing commercial fishing presentations on broadcast TV. Currently, the overwhelming bulk of aquatic ecosystems eventually die. It’s not an overstatement to say that we may have been the last creation to live side by side with dolphins and perhaps other threatened aquatic mammals.

Author(s) Name: G. Bhargavi (Damodaram Sanjivayya National Law University, Visakhapatnam)

References:

[1] M. Ahiraj, ‘‘Dynamite Fishing’ In Tungabhadra Threatens Aquatic Life’ (The Hindu, 1 December 2018) <https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/dynamite-fishing-in-tungabhadra-threatens-aquatic-life/article25644098.ece> accessed 24 August 2019

[2] Robert E.Katikiro and Jairos J.Mahenge, ‘Fishers’ Perceptions of the Recurrence of Dynamite-Fishing Practices on the Coast of Tanzania’ (2016) <https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2016.00233> accessed 16 November 2016

[3] Hoon, V, ‘Coral Reefs of India: Review of their Extent, Condition Research and Management Status’, Proceedings of Regional Workshop on Conservation and Sustainable Management of Coral Reefs, [1997] 27

[4] Lawyers Initiative for Forests and Environment (2013), ‘Coastal and Marine Conservation in Indian Legal Instruments’, Legal Framework for Conservation of Coastal and Marine Environment of India, 10

[5] The Indian Fisheries Act 1897

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