March 2014: Last weekend at least 22 dwarf sperm whales and 21 dolphins were killed
as a result of ‘blast fishing’ off Siargao Island in the Philippines, a process by which fisherman
use explosives to stun or kill marine life for easy collection.
Among the dead whales and dolphins were a mother dwarf sperm whale and her calf,
which became stranded off a resort at Kamaligan, Barangay. Marine biologist Gianni Boy Grifoni
and his assistant Stephanie Chua attempted to save the wounded whales, who they described
as being badly injured. The whales also suffered stab wounds as the fisherman tried
to kill the whales after the explosion had stunned and injured them. In spite of their efforts
to help the animals, the calf died of its injuries on Saturday 22nd March, one day after the blast fishing
took place. The mother died the following morning.
Although blast fishing is illegal, it is commonplace in the Philippines. The practice is used
to stun large marine animals such as dolphins and dwarf sperm whales, before killing them
using large knives, such as bolos. The meat collected from the illegal fishing is sold in wet markets,
or kept by the fishermen to feed their families.
Local residents suggest that police officials might be aware of blast fishing in the area,
but often turn a blind eye, letting the fisherman go unpunished.
As well as being damaging to the fish and cetaceans, blast fishing is having a devastating effect
on the coral reef which surrounds Siargao Island. The blast shatters the coral,
which can take 100 years to grow back. This results in habitat loss for the diverse range
of marine life in the area.
STOP THIS OUTRAGEOUS PRACTICE!
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