View site #952 > ScoreCard for survey #1 > Issue
Introduction | Identification | Impacts | Causes | Actions | More Info
|What can be done to solve this problem?|
Understand the situation. Examine past and current attempts to solve this issue and whether these actions have been effective. You can get a sense of whether poison fishing is regulated by simply talking to people in the community and government officials.
Link poison fishing with other management actions. Review the management questions in the Reef Check survey to identify whether there are management regulations in place and if they are being enforced. The goal is to bring all parts of society and government together to plan how coastal resources will be used or protected. To understand how actions by citizens and the government can be part of a joint effort to manage coral reefs, review the fact sheet on ‘Integrated Coastal Management’. In addition, review the fact sheet on ‘Marine Protected Areas.’ Marine protected areas are a tool that can be used as a part of integrated coastal management.
How can we solve this problem?
Both the live reef food fish and the marine ornamental trades are very profitable, especially when compared to the traditional “dead” fish trade. For example, prices paid for "super-sized" coral trout since 1995 have increased from US$11/kg to $18.8/kg, and from US$22.2/kg to $40/kg for Napoleon wrasses (Pet-Soede and Erdmann 1998). Therefore there are strong economic incentives to catch and keep fish alive. Cyanide is not only effective as a capture method, but also relatively cheap and easy to obtain.
The 1998 Asian financial crisis has caused more fishers to change their fishing method to cyanide due to the higher profits that can be made on the international live fish markets. The focus of many export-oriented businesses on both the live food fish and aquarium trades has also intensified (Erdmann and Pet 1999).
Recognizing these challenges, there are actions that can be taken to lessen the impact poison fishing has on coral reefs. First, it is important to educate fishers on how cyanide degrades coral reefs and train them on how to use other fishing methods that effectively capture fish without harming corals. The use of nets is one alternative. Second, if you buy either live food fish or aquarium fish, you can influence retailers by choosing not to purchase cyanide-caught fish. As more consumers let their local aquarium store or restaurant know that they are concerned about cyanide use in the live fish trades, more of these stores and restaurants will seek out alternatives to cyanide-caught fish, which will also influence fishers to use other methods of capture.
What can a concerned citizen do to help?
There are several actions that any individual can do to help decrease poison fishing impacts on coral reefs. These include:
Raise public awareness about how cyanide can degrade coral reefs by creating posters, brochures, educational workshops, and by word-of-mouth.
Help to organize the community in promoting alternatives to cyanide use; use former cyanide fishers as trainers.
Assist communities in establishing marine protected areas. This helps to keep them involved with decisions that directly affect their own futures and helps to preserve reefs and fish species from fish collectors.
Do not eat species typically caught with cyanide including Napoleon wrasse and grouper. Tell restaurant owners and managers that they should not sell or place these species on their menus.
What can managers and decision-makers do to help?
In addition to the above management recommendations for a concerned citizen, resource managers and decision-makers may have additional means available to them to decrease the impacts poison fishing has on coral reefs. These include:
Educate local fishers and communities on how cyanide can harm coral ecosystems. This can be done by creating posters, brochures, comic books, conducting workshops, radio and TV ads, dramas, soap operas, and by word-of-mouth.
Organize the community to promote the use of nondestructive fishing methods like hook-and-line and nets. Local and regional governments can help by either subsidizing the purchase of new fishing gear, helping to repair existing gear, or providing other means of income generation.
Provide incentives for local fishers to change their behavior and either use other fishing methods or seek other means of employment.
Educate middlemen (those that purchase fish from fish collectors) of the harmful effects of cyanide use so that they encourage fishers to find alternative means of capturing fish by refusing to purchase fish caught with cyanide.
Promote and establish alternative employment opportunities like mariculture. See Livelihood Options for Coastal Communities by IIRR and SMISLE for alternative income generating options for coastal communities.
If it is not already illegal, establish legislation banning the use of cyanide.
Increase enforcement and monitoring of reefs to ensure that regulations are being followed. See Coastal Law Enforcement by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Philippines (2001) for guidance. It is available on-line at: http://www.oneocean.org/download/20011005/Book8.pdf
Establish management plans to regulate the harvest of targeted reef species.
Encourage local businesses that purchase live reef fish from fishers to avoid purchasing fish caught using cyanide. If these businesses stop purchasing fish that have been caught using cyanide, fishers will be encouraged to use other fishing methods.
Prohibit or increase the penalty for selling live fish that have been caught using cyanide and/or selling illegal species.
Raise public awareness in countries like the U.S. and in Hong Kong about the destructive nature of cyanide fishing so that consumers can make informed choices when at a pet store or in restaurants.
Establish monitoring programs at export centers and import points to check for cyanide-caught fish. Go to the Marine Aquarium Council’s website for more information on how to establish cyanide testing facilities, monitoring programs and certification programs: http://www.aquariumcouncil.org/
Ban the import of cyanide caught fish.
|Local fishing boat equipped with hookah for harvesting.
Location: Ishigaki, Japan
Photo by: J. Oliver
(from ReefBase: http://www.reefbase.org)|