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Saturday, November 1, 2008

Blast fishing

Blast fishing or dynamite fishing is the practice of using explosives to stun or kill schools of fish for easy collection. This often illegal practice can be extremely destructive to the surrounding ecosystem, as the explosion often destroys the underlying habitat (such as coral reefs ) that supports the fish. The frequently improvised nature of the explosives used also means danger for the fishermen as well, with accidents and injuries.
Dead fish as the result of blast fishing.

Although outlawed, the practice remains widespread in Southeast Asia, as well as in the Aegean Sea and coastal Africa. In the Philippines, where the practice has been well documented blast fishing dates back to even before the First World War, as this activity is mentioned by Ernst J√ľnger in his book Storm of Steel. One 1999 report estimated that some 70,000 fishermen (12% of the Philippines' total fishermen) engage in the practice today.

Extensive hard-to-patrol coastlines; the lure of lucrative, easy catches; and in some cases outright apathy or corruption on the part of local officials make enforcement of blast fishing bans an ongoing challenge for authorities.

Commercial dynamite or, more commonly, homemade bombs constructed using a glass bottle with layers of powdered potassium nitrate and pebbles or an ammonium nitrate and kerosene mixture are often employed. Such devices, though, may explode prematurely without warning, and have been known to injure or kill the person using them, or innocent bystanders.[

Fish are killed by the shock from the blast and are then skimmed from the surface or collected from the bottom. The explosions indiscriminately kill large numbers of fish and other marine organisms in the vicinity and can damage or destroy the physical environment, including extensive damage to coral reefs.

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