Wasior, Teluk Wondama, W Papua (ANTARA) - The Wondama Bay Police in West Papua recently took in six traditional fishermen caught practicing blast fishing while poaching in the Auri Isles’ waters of protected Cenderawasih Bay National Park, Roon Sub-district, an official stated.

Five of the six fishermen had been placed under police custody for investigation while the other one, identified as La Uge, is yet undergoing treatment at a local hospital, Head of the Wondama Bay Fisheries Office Dominggus Masewi remarked in Wasior on Monday.

Masewi revealed that La Uge, 38, had sustained a shot wound on his leg. A policeman, attempting to arrest Uge, opened fire when he attacked with one of the home-made bombs intended for catching fish.

The suspects, originally from Nabire District in Papua Province, were arrested by the Roon Sub-district police investigators, led by Brigadier Laode Nuralam, during their routine patrol in the Auri Isles' waters, he stated.

Masewi called for the need to impose the law on those still practicing blast fishing, so that the arrest of these fishermen would serve as a deterrent effect.

Indonesia is an archipelagic nation, with vast and deep coral reefs. Matthew R P Briggs' study (2003) showed that the area of Indonesia’s coral reefs is estimated to reach some 86 thousand square kilometers, thereby constituting 14-18 percent of the world's coral reefs. These vast coral reefs are believed to be a blessing from the God Almighty, as their economic value alone is estimated to reach at least US$1.6 billion per year (Briggs, 2003).

Herman Cesar calls these coral reefs and their associated marine life as one of Indonesia's greatest natural treasures (1996).

However, this gift is facing increasing threat for decades owing to varied causes. The outcomes of Cesar' study revealed that the threats are mostly posed by humans, such as blast fishing, poison fishing, overfishing, and tourism development (1996).

Despite the fact that blast or dynamite fishing is not the sole contributing factor to the damage caused to the country's coral reefs, Indonesia, as a consequence, has suffered huge economic losses.

Briggs has projected that Indonesia can suffer net economic losses crossing $920 million over the subsequent two decades owing to blast fishing practiced by certain traditional fishermen in different parts of Indonesia since World War II.

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Translator: Toyiban, Rahmad Nasution
Editor: Gusti Nur Cahya Aryani
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