Saturday, January 17, 2009

Scuba divers need to support the sustainable fishing practices

by Charles Roring, Manokwari, West Papua

Scuba diving has always been considered as an environmentally friendly tourism industry. Tourist divers who experience underwater world for the first time will be amazed with the beauty of the coral reef and various types of fish moving around them.

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The fish that are abundant in coral reef are often caught by local traditional fishermen. They then sell the fish at the nearby market. If well managed, both the diving and traditional fishing can exist side by side without any conflicts of interest.

To realize this condition, owners of diving resorts and marine park management board must find a solution that the local fishermen can accept.

All the area of coral reef in certain region cannot be put in what is called as "NO TAKE ZONE." For conservation purposes, there has to be that kind of zone. BUT an area of limited fishing or sustainable fishing should be delineated in a coral reef region for the fishermen to the their fishing activities.

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Traditional fishermen have applied a number of sustainable fishing methods. One of them is the use of fish-trap. In the pacific region, fish traps are placed among the coral reef to catch fish. These fish traps are safer than the modern method of bottom trawling.

The above photograph shows typical fish traps which fishermen in Mansinam island of Manokwari, West Papua use to catch coral fish. I support the use of this traditional fishing equipment. It is mainly made of bamboo or rattan.

If necessary, resort owners and marine park management board can allocate certain budget, collected from the entrance fee charged to the tourists, for the production of fish traps. This will discourage the application of blast fishing and help the fishmen keep the coral reef environment in safe condition.

I strongly believe that the traditional fishing communities can live side by side with the scuba diving operators in mutual cooperation.