Diver’s Depression – do not to confound with diver’s decompression – can occur when encountering human made destruction under water. It happened to me yesterday.
OK, it hadn’t been a sunny day yesterday. Heavy grey clouds dimmed the light and it rained all morning, sometimes even heavily. We went diving just off Tupsan where a slope gentli goes down from 5 to 18+ meters. What I did not know up to this moment – this site had been a location of heavy dynamite or blast fishing 20 years ago.
Imagine walking over an ancient graveyard during a foggy November evening. The light was about the same and the destroyed coral-blocks remembered overthrown grave-stones.
The national government started to act against blast fishing and others only in 1998 with the REPUBLIC ACT NO. 8550. Fortunately the local government of Camiguin prohibited any kind of explosive, poison and electrical fishing some years earlier. But after now more than 20 years, fauna and flora are still sparse.
In some spots young corals are now growing. It seems to me that the new corals prefer to settle rather on the old coral branches than on the artificial reef elements put in some places. These concrete blocks are funny for sea urchins who occupy every whole of the blocks. I didn’t find any coral polyps on these blocks. May the chemical composition of the concrete is not what polyps love.
Reef-building coral is a tiny polyp-like animal that builds a calcium-carbonate shell around itself and survives in a symbiotic relationship with certain types of algae. Its reefs serve as vital spawning and feeding grounds for numerous marine creatures. It comes in some 1,500 known species, ranging from soft, undulating fans to those with hard skeletons that form reef bases.
When I came back to surface after 65 minutes, my soul was grey and I felt sad. I hope, we’ll never see again this kind of fishery.
Photo courtesy of glamroz.com
Maybe REPUBLIC ACT NO. 8550 will help. But if there is no control, the fisher guys will use it. So, please read this extract. The full text is here.
REPUBLIC ACT NO. 8550
THE PHILIPPINE FISHERIES CODE OF 1998
SEC. 88. Fishing Through Explosives, Noxious or Poisonous Substance, and/or Electricity. –
(1) It shall be unlawful for any person to catch, take or gather or cause to be caught, taken or gathered, fish or any fishery species in Philippine waters with the use of electricity, explosives, noxious or poisonous substance such as sodium cyanide in the Philippine fishery areas, which will kill, stupefy, disable or render unconscious fish or fishery species: Provided, that the Department, subject to such safeguards and conditions deemed necessary and endorsement from the concerned LGUs may allow, for research, educational or scientific purposes only, the use of electricity, poisonous or noxious substances to catch, take or gather fish or fishery species: Provide, further, that the use of poisonous or noxious substances to eradicate predators in fishponds in accordance with accepted scientific practices and without causing adverse environmental impact in neighboring waters and grounds shall not be construed as illegal fishing. It will likewise be unlawful for any person, corporation or entity to possess, deal in, sell or in any manner dispose of, any fish or fishery species which have been illegally caught, taken or gathered. The discovery of dynamite, other explosives and chemical compounds which contain combustible elements, or noxious or poisonous substances, or equipment or device for electro-fishing in any fishing vessel or in the possession of any fisherfolk, operator, fishing boat official or fishworker shall constitute a prima facie evidence, that the same was used for fishing in violation of this Code. The discovery in any fishing vessel of fish caught or killed with the use of explosive, noxious or poisonous substances or by electricity shall constitute prima facie evidence that the fisherfolk, operator, boat official or fishworker is fishing with the use thereof. (2) Mere possession of explosive, noxious or poisonous substances or electrofishing devices for illegal fishing shall be punishable by imprisonment ranging from six (6) months to two (2) years.
Actual use of explosives, noxious or poisonous substances or electrofishing devices for illegal fishing shall be punishable by imprisonment ranging from five (5) years to ten (10) years without prejudice to the filing of separate criminal cases when the use of the same result to physical injury or loss of human life. (4) Dealing in, selling, or in any manner disposing of, for profit, illegally caught/gathered fisheries species shall be punished by imprisonment ranging from six (6) months to two (2) years. (5) In all cases enumerated above, the explosives, noxious or poisonous substances and/or electrical devices, as well as the fishing vessels, fishing equipment and catch shall be forfeited.