Pulau Hantu - A celebration of marine life

Secret lives and secret worlds hidden in Singapore's most popular coral reef.

Saturday, April 17, 2004

Mirroring our neighbours

At this afternoons seminar on dive conservation and environment, Victor Wu, Campaigner for the Wildaid effort against shark finning, and Peter Mous, Science and Training Manager for the Nature Conservancy, brought to mention unsustainable fishing practices in Indonesia i.e. Cynide fishing, bomb fishing, long line fishing (where huge amounts of by-catch are caught including sharks, marine mammals and reptiles). These practices are believed to be spurred by increasing commercial demand for marine resources (primarily fish). Coastal villages find profitable resource from the sea, sparing little thought for marine ecosystems and the sustainability of their practices. One of the [many] issues mentioned where countries such as Indonesia which tolerate an ever increasing population (population of Indonesia now numbers 284 million) has pushed people to exploit the ocean more than ever both for commerce (stocks for export) as well as survival (for local consumption). Not just fish and not just target fish are suffering the pressure of increasing fishing but coral habitats and a phenomenal array of by-catch (including dolphins, whales and turtles) are ending up in fishing nets and long lines. Similarly it seems, the ever increasing population of Singapore and the demand for more land for housing and industry is pushing our coastline (literally) off existance. We may seem distinct from our neighbours, when in fact we, as with countries all over the world in a quest for ever more resources, are putting pressure on our marine environment, which has for so long, thought to be a renewable and inexhaustible resource. With the heightened awareness of course, and the ever growing number of concerned individuals, organisations and even governements, measures are being taken to realise each country's unique challenges set with the increase of population and consumers. There's much to be learnt from observing our neighbours and the steps being taken by nations all over the world to better understand and implement accordingly, steps towards preserving our environment.