Target: Professor Jumanne Magembe, Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism
Goal: Stop the harmful practice of blast fishing in shallow waters in Tanzania.
Fishermen off the coast of Tanzania are illegally using explosives to catch fish, destroying corals and other marine life. The practice came about there in the 1960s, and was outlawed in 1970. However, in Tanzania, as well as Lebanon, Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Myanmar and others, the practice continues today.
Part of the reason for the rise in the practice is the increase in mining and construction in the country, allowing for easy access to explosives like dynamite, with other fishermen using kerosene and fertilizer to construct their own bombs. Coupled with the fact that a single blast can produce up to $1,800 worth of fish at the Dar es Salaam markets, it is obvious that the problem will not go away on its own.
Researchers earlier this year recorded over 300 blasts in 30 days, not counting the majority of blasts that occur in very shallow waters near the shore. One bottle bomb alone can kill everything between 30 and 100 feet of the explosion, which is especially harmful to the coral reefs, which can take decades to grow, and decades more to recover. Naturally, this destruction has a knock-on effect on the marine wildlife that is supported by the existence of the coral and its supported ecosystem. There is also the possibility that the blasts are killing Indo-pacific bottlenose dolphins, an endangered species.
The Tanzanian government has launched a task force to deal with the criminals who use blast-fishing methods, but similar efforts in the past were not successful, losing steam in 2003. Sign this petition and encourage the government and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism to not lose focus this time.
Dear Professor Magembe,
The practice of blast fishing taking place off the coast of Tanzania is destroying marine life and their habitat, a situation that will have far-reaching consequences. Fragile coral reefs essential to the regulation of carbon dioxide levels, as well as supporting other marine life such as fish and crabs, are being obliterated. The damage done is possibly irreparable, as the coral can take decades to develop, and many years more to recover, if recovery is even possible.
On top of that, the activity has been illegal since 1970, yet fishermen feel emboldened enough by the lack of punishment that they will regularly explode their bombs during broad daylight, well over 10 times a day and possibly more often in shallower waters, up and down the coast of your country. It also threatens the livelihood of law-abiding fishermen, as their catches are affected both directly and indirectly.
The multi-agency task team that will be dealing with wildlife crimes is a step in the right direction, but it is imperative that they do enough to combat this destructive system of fishing. Greater fines and harsher penalties must be used as deterrents, and the fight against those taking part must continue until the practice is eradicated. Stop the use of blast fishing in your country’s waters, before the damage is too great to be fixed.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Drajay