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Colonial Era
By Chozin Muhammad

The history of blast fishing in South Sulawesi started in the colonial era in the 20th century. The Dutch colonials introduced dynamite to bomb fish in order to speed up the process of harvesting fish. At that time, the yield of blast fishing was used for an annual ceremony celebrated the birthday of the Dutch Princess, Juliana. The ceremony was held on New Year's Day, January 1, in every Dutch colonial territory, including South Sulawesi2. The ceremony required a quick catch of a large quantity of fish. Since there was no advanced technology to quickly catch a large amount of fish, the Dutch army introduced bombs to catch fish to the fishermen.

Nevertheless, strict rules applied to dynamite fishing at that time. The Dutch controlled the bombs and allowed the fishermen to use them only for occasional purposes. The Territorial Waters and Maritime Environment Act in 1939 stated that "exploitation of Indonesia's fisheries could only be carried out by indigenous people, except when granted an exception by government" (Crago 2003). This rule banned fishermen from outside to fish on the area where local fishermen settled.

However, the government could also order fishermen to fish on certain areas, which means the government also was able order the fishermen to fish using dynamite. "The fishermen were not allowed to use the bombs for daily fishing activities, except when they were ordered by the Dutch authority. Anyone caught using the dynamite with no order would be sentenced to death3."

According to Alimuddin (2004, p. 33), even though the use of dynamite fishing was first introduced by the Dutch, its extended use was during the Japanese colonial era. After the Dutch colonials were driven out of the country by the Japanese in 1943, the Japanese soldiers ordered the local fishermen to do blast fishing. However, in Japanese era, dynamite fishing was no longer serves ceremonial purposes. The Japanese military practiced dynamite fishing to feed their soldiers because the war in Southeast Asia has threatened their food supply.  

2011 Chozin Muhammad

In this section:

History of blast fishing:

After Indonesian independence
Contemporary practices

Also in this section :

Social Relationships on Balobaloang

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

The relationship between blast fishermen and other fishermen




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