A 400 metre fishing net left abandoned in the Kanokupolu Lagoon last week was a recipe for disaster. What was, not so many years back, a sustaining pristine lagoon environment, live with corals and teeming with tropical marine life has been broken up, over-fished and depleted.
Just another hurdle for an already challenged reef lagoon system, an estimated 400 meters of nylon fishing net was abandoned [by the fishermen] after cutting free and retrieving the float rope.
Spanning a huge distance along the lagoon and across the pass at Kanokupolu Beach, the net was already a hazard for local fishing boats that regularly use the entrance.
The death net, for all fish and other sea creatures that also come and go through the pass, was strung up one night and abandoned several days later. The floats and rope were the only things salvaged as the net had instantly become entangled in the coral reef.
This only made the clearing work harder. We later located and removed the net, that was wrapping the coral heads and still strung between the gutters, indiscriminately catching and killing fish, crabs and shell fish. Had it have been left there the useless death would have continued and it would have remained a boating and swimming hazard.
This is not the first time this has happened here. The first time the propeller of my boat snared on a discarded net rope and stalled the engine—tying us to a coral head in the middle of the breaking waves. With a quick effort on our part and a lot of luck we managed to escape OK.
The second time my wife Chris and I untangled and dragged in a similar but shorter abandoned net.
This more recent net is just ridiculous, not only in its sheer size and destructiveness but also its lack of economic viability. Blue Banana Beach House staff, Hema Lisala and myself, spend two days cleaning up the environmental mess left by thoughtless fishermen.
I can imagine these lengths of net are not cheap and certainly my staff and my own time is not free. Were these and the senseless destruction of marine life and coral reef factored into the value of the edible fish caught? I believe a couple of nice Kahi Kahi purchased at the fish market would have been ultimately cheaper.
What was, not so many years back, a sustaining pristine lagoon environment, live with corals and teeming with tropical marine life has been broken up, over-fished and depleted of Tukumisi, which are the main algae and weed cleaners of the system. Single species targets and non-sustainable and damaging fishing practices are very short sighted and more often economically unviable.
To sustain local village fishing (which shows little impact) and the growing dependence on the requirements of the tourist industry, fishing laws and their enforcement need to be reviewed.
Blue Banana Beach House