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April 25, 2012

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Great post, Michael. Thanks for writing it, which must have been painful. How sad, to see somewhere dear to you scarred this way. But how thoughtful, to use your experience and your photos as a counterweight to immediate outrage. The people deserve better as surely as the corals do. What a wretched irony, that the money necessary for both has
apparently degraded both--fertilizer used as an explosive is too apt an image. Perhaps the increasing wealth and influence of the groups supporting Ashoka Changemakers will be sufficient to control local conflicts of interest. I too dearly hope so.

I agree with Richard: this is a very thoughtful piece on a painful subject. Thanks.

During the coarse of our yearly humanitarian deliveries we have had the chance to observe first hand the massive destruction in a very short time caused by blast fishing around some of Indonesia's most isolated islands. Every year we visit among others the islands of Teun, Nila, and Serua that are far out in the most remote areas of the Banda Sea. Last year the reefs around those islands were still vibrantly alive and healthy. We could just ask the first canoe going past for a fish and no more than an hour later they would be back with a very respectable sized offering for our dinner. This year we found those reefs , and they are huge in some cases, completely devastated from blast fishing. In the 10 days we spent on Nila our friends could only manage to catch 1, yes that is ONE, medium sized fish they delivered apologizing that it was so small. A reasonably well fed, cheerful, happy community is now reduced to eating only the few vegetables from their gardens - it was providential that last year we provided a good mix of vegetable seeds. Our on board doctor noted a mush greater incidence of anemia especially among the children and a general lack of "well being" among the population. This is clearly a case of short term profits for a few at the cost of long term suffering for many. We have some excellent video interviews with the island's headman concerning what happened, how they had bombs thrown at them when they tried to chase the blasters away, and how his island's people are suffering from the results. I hope that footage will soon be seen by many in hopes it will generate some sort of assistance for these people far from any government assistance and alone in their suffering.

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