Saturday, May 12, 2007

"Blast" - fighting back in the Philippines

From a press release from INECE, forwarded by Stuart Green of Reef Check :
BBC World presents "Blast", an Earth Report documentary that chronicles the ongoing battle between blast fishers in the Philippines and the brave individuals risking their lives to stop them.

Using homemade explosives to kill fish may provide an easy answer for poverty-stricken fishermen, but the rich biodiversity of the Visayan Sea, as well as future sources of food for the people of the Philippines, are quickly being depleted because of their use.

In 2004, after recognizing that declaring blast fishing illegal was not enough to deter fishermen, concerned conservationist and local government official Jo Jo de la Victoria teamed up with INECE member and fellow Filipino Tony Oposa to form the Visayan Sea Squadron. Their mission was to patrol the Visayan sea for blast fishermen and to educate Filipinos
on the importance of sustainable fishing practices.

The success of the Visayan Sea Squadron in protecting the sea angered many in the fishing community. In April of 2006, involvement in the blast fishing project proved fatal for Jo Jo. He was shot and killed by a hired assassin.

"Jo Jo de la Victoria's murder shocked and saddened all of us," said Durwood Zaelke, Director of the INECE Secretariat. "But his heroism, and Tony Oposa's, as evident through this poignant film, continue to inspire those around the world fighting similar battles."
Blast will be broadcast on 19 and 20 May. See the BBC World web site for regional schedules.

In February this year I visited with Tony Oposa and others doing extraordinary work to reverse the tide of destruction and, as described here, witnessed a spectacular operation to nail some of the bad guys. Coral Bones will continue to follow this story of real 21st century heroes.

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