Title: Illegal but Common: Life of Blast Fishermen in the Spermonde Archipelago, South Sulawesi, Indonesia
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Author: Chozin, Muhammad
Degree: Master of Arts , Southeast Asian Studies, 2008.
Advisors: Gene Ammarell (Committee Chair)
Blast fishing is fishing method practiced by throwing a bomb made from mixed fuel-ammonium nitrate fertilizer (NH4NO3) into sea in order to quickly catch large quantity of fish. However, it is tremendously destructive to coral reefs. It is estimated that more than 53% of Indonesia's coral reefs in Indonesia have been threatened by destructive fishing including blast fishing. Particularly, in the Spermonde Archipelago, South Sulawesi, more than 75% of fishermen are practicing this fishing method.
My research focus is on technological and socio-cultural aspects of blast fishermen society in an island within the Spermonde archipelago. Using participant observation, I looked at the society to observe how deep the practice of blast fishing is rooted in their cultures, beliefs, and political economy. I also conducted interviews with fishermen, government officers, and fish traders. By doing so, I tried to understand how the blast fishermen perceived themselves and others, how they dealt with the power of the state, and how they responded to the global economy.
Finally, I examined fishermen's opinions on the sustainability of their maritime resources including coral reefs and fish stocks. It seems that their awareness of environmental issues had no impact to their daily life. The desire to achieve economic gain and modernization overcame their desire for resource sustainability. Even though they knew the negative impact of blast fishing practice in the long run, they continued it because they are "greedy." Actually, exposure to the nearby city of modern life in Makassar (the mainland)combined with a lack of formal education plunges them into a greediness situation in which they have only limited alternatives available with which to participate in the material consumption that surrounds them. The high demand from global markets for fish attracts them to use short-cuts in fishing. Moreover, the lack of law enforcement contributes the continuity of this practice.
destructive fishing; blast fishing; dynamite fishing; fish bomb; patront client; coral reefs; spermonde; south sulawesi
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