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The relationship between blast fishermen and other fishermen
By Chozin Muhammad

Blast Fishermen and Line Fishermen

Theoretically, blast fishing and line fishing is two different fishing methods that cannot co-exist. Blast fishing is destructive while line fishing method is more sustainable. Blast fishing takes excessive resources, ruining fishing grounds for line fishermen. Because of blast fishing, line fishermen cannot fish as much as before. "A decade ago, we can fish on the area near by the island with huge amount of fish catches, but now we have to go far away to fish", said Aminudin, a line fisherman on the island15.

However, it seems that there is an understanding between blast fishermen and line fishermen. Line fishermen take advantage of blast fishermen by helping them to harvest bombed fish floating on the sea. There is a sharing rule for line fishermen who help the blast fishermen harvesting the bombed fish. The line fisherman will get one third of the yield, while the blast fishermen took two third of the fish floating on the sea.

When line fishermen harvest the fish on the location where a bomb was thrown, they have to bring the fish to the blast fishermen boat and then count the fish. The blast fishermen decide how much fish will be shared with the line fisherman. However, this rule is flexible. Sometimes the yield is shared equally (half for blast fishermen and another half for the line fisherman) if the line fisherman is a family member of a neighbor of the blast fishermen.

This pattern benefits the line fishermen because they do not have to spend many hours in fishing. They can easily get fish by helping the blast fishermen harvest the bombed fish. Although they use only use lepa-lepa (a narrow dugout powered by a small engine), line fishermen often go far offshore to follow the blast fishermen boat. Although they fish with line and baits, they are also waiting for an explosion. Whenever they see that a boat is operating blast fishing, they will come to harvest the fish.

In other areas, such as among the Mandar (another ethnic group in South Sulawesi), there is another common understanding. It was established that if a line fishermen is already fishing in a certain sea area, blast fishermen cannot install explosives on that fishing ground (Alimuddin, 2004 p.19).

Nevertheless, in general, it seems that the appearance of line fishermen near a blast fishing boat benefits to the blast fishermen. Often, line fishermen are good informant for blast fishermen regarding security issues. Line fishermen give information to the blast fishermen whenever there is a police patrol on the area. It is a reciprocity where two side benefit each other.

Blast Fishermen and Cyanide Fishermen

Both blast fishing and cyanide fishing are destructive. However, they cannot be operated in the same place. Their target fish are also different. Cyanide fishing targets some species of demersal fish that live surrounding coral reefs, such as grouper and lobster. Blast fishing targets schooling fish.

Cyanide fishing and dynamite fishing groups establish different networks. Cyanide fishing sell their captured fish for export. Blast fishing sells their yield mostly for local market. In addition, the juragang for both blast fishing group and for cyanide fishing group are also different.

They are connected with different suppliers and different markets on the mainland of Makassar. Cyanide is easily obtained from a local distributor in Makassar. The fish captured by cyanide fishing are marketed abroad.

However, culturally both of blast fishermen groups and cyanide groups are similar. They mostly speak Makassar and share common values of the Spermonde archipelago.

In operating their fishing gears, there seems to be an understanding between blast fishermen and cyanide fishermen regarding their fishing grounds. Since both obviously cannot be done in the same place, both of them operate in different territories. Cyanide fishermen are looking for a coral area where groupers or lobsters are easily found.

Diving is the main technique for cyanide fishing. A fisherman can dive in one area for long time. It is dangerous to operate blast fishing on the same area with cyanide fishing. The bomb can kill or injure the cyanide fishermen when they are diving. Therefore, there is an "unwritten agreement" between blast fishermen and cyanide fishermen not to operate in the same place.

Regarding Kodingareng Lompo, nobody in the island uses cyanides. The sea surrounding the island is a preferred place for blast fishing. The blast fishermen have their own fishing grounds, about an hour from the island.

However, on Barang Lompo island (a neighboring island in the Spermonde archipelago), both blast fishermen and cyanide fishermen live together in the same island. Various fishing methods coexist on the same island. Different groups of fishermen have different fishing grounds but they live together as a village society and share the common culture and religion.

On Sumanga island (in the Sabalana archipelago), blast fishermen and cyanide fishermen cooperate without sharing life on the same island. Most people who live on the island are blast fishermen. Because Sabalana archipelago is further offshore from the mainland Sulawesi, cyanide fishermen from Spermonde archipelago often come to the island to park their boats and to get some fresh water before continuing their journey. What they share is the "protection" from local authorities.

For a blast-fishing group, line fishermen also serve as a camouflage from the police patrol. If a police patrol is approaching the blast fishing boat, the crew will move the detonators and fuse to the small boats belong to line fishermen. Therefore, when the police catch the blast fishing boat, they will find nothing illegal. Police will find no evidence of blast fishing since they do not find a bomb on the boat.  

2011 Chozin Muhammad

Also in this section :

Social Relationships on Balobaloang

Illegal but common: life of blast fishermen

History of blast fishing
Colonial era
After Indonesian independence
Contemporary Practices

Patron-client relationship in blast fishing groups
Life of a young juragang
Life of a sawi

Religious and cultural values of blast fishermen

The role of women in blast fishing




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