Fishing With Dynamite

Matthew Muller

1. Article Citation:

Galbraith, Kate. "The Horrors of Fishing With Dynamite." The New York Times. The New York Times, 04 Feb. 2015. Web. 04 Feb. 2015.

2. Summary: This is an opinion piece.This article begins with a woman's account of being struck and stunned by a shockwave while swimming in the ocean. It turns out that this shock came from blast fishing which is common in impoverished parts of the world. The blasts break coral reefs, and kill more fish than can be harvested. This means that excess fish are left half dead on the surface of the ocean essentially squirming for life. Tourism is seen as a good advocate for stopping blast fishing because tourists will be scared away by this method and therefore not visit unless blast fishing is clamped down upon. Some fish also cannot be retrieved because often times the blast ruptures the fish' air bladders leaving them to sink to the bottom of the ocean. This method of fishing has existed since the world war when soldiers would use their grenades to catch dinner. Suspects of blast fishing in Lebanon fish at night when they are less likely to be heard and shine lights in the water to attract the fish. Therefore, this is not a simple crime to eliminate all together. This issue is most prominent in Tanzania where mining is one of the most popular occupations so dynamite is easy to obtain. Fishermen are said to use dynamite instead of nets because nets snag on things like coral reefs. The Tanzania government reported that its starting a 1 million dollar campaign to stop this fishing for good.

3. What ethical issue does the article arise? What makes the event or action just or unjust?

This article arrises many ethical issues. The most apparent ethical issue is that all beings are said to have intrinsic value. This action is not simply fishing but a speedy mass killing. Many fish are left dead to no one's benefit. It disturbs the ecosystem which the fish live in, pollutes the water, and alters the food-chain. Ecosystems are being destroyed by the explosions and many animals are left to suffer. At the same time this effects the economy because in areas that fishermen use this method, it is dangerous for humans to be in the water which chases away tourists. Since this is practiced in areas that rely on tourism for revenue, it hurts the economy.  At the same time, this form of fishing is a way for these fishermen to make a steady income and sell fish on the market etc. It is not something that we can simply ask them to stop. I think in order to properly remove this issue this people need to either have their explosives tracked down and taken away or be offered a new, equally effective method for fishing. This form of fishing is still very common in areas such as Southeast Asia (Indonesia and the Philippines).

4. My Position

Although I can see why this method is used for fishing--it is quick, catches of thousands fish ready to be sold or to be eaten-- I feel that it needs to be stopped. Coral reefs are being destroyed, humans are becoming the victims of shockwaves, and fish are left scattered to die. Although this is not a new issue, I believe that it came up recently not only because someone was injured from it, but also because it has a lot of long-term effects that need to be stopped. My position is that there should be surveillance along the coast of Tanzania and other South Asian countries where this method of fishing is most prominent. In addition I feel that in order to stop this, people should not be allowed to carry explosives in these areas unless they have some sort of permit. I also believe that there could be rehabilitation programs put in place to restore the ecosystems and coral reefs that have been destroyed.

Question: How do you feel about this method of fishing? Is it justified? Why or why not? Also, if you believe that this should be stopped, what is one effective way that blast fishing could be stopped/the ecosystems restored? Is it more important to invest money to fix the ecosystems or the economy?