Fish Reef Project Helps Halt Dynamiting of Fish

Captain’s Log: Fish Reef Project Helps Halt Dynamiting of Fish at South Pacific Island

There are rare and wonderful moments when actions have such monumental conservation impacts that it warms my heart and I must share the story.

One such story just came to fruition and may serve as a viable and readily accepted methodology for achieving great strides in conservation gains throughout the oceans of the world.

In 2016, Fish Reef Project surveyed the seafloor and met with tribal elders on a small island off the capital of Papua New Guinea called Fisherman’s Island.

More than 5,000 men and women live on the island and fish to feed themselves and supply fish to the capital. Some years back, they began to use dynamite to stun and catch fish, a practice common in the South Pacific region. The result is often fish depletion, dead coral and occasional loss of human life.

Fish Reef Project signed an agreement with the tribal elders of Fisherman’s Island whereby the Santa Barbara-based nonprofit promised to make them new reefs if they halted the use of dynamite.

“Three years later we kept our word and to our pleasant surprise, so did the fishermen. We deployed new reefs around the island to give coral and fish new places to thrive,” said Chris Goldblatt, Fish Reef Profject founder and executive director.

For the first time in history, an effective tool to stop dynamite fishing has been put into practice, but it requires working with fishermen rather than demonizing them.

It requires accepting them as they are and embracing the fact that they just want to go to work, and feed themselves and their families, and it is only with their help that can we achieve ocean health.

“Fish Reef Project is a rare bridge between all sides, as our only focus is a healthier ocean that we can all access for our own organic, local and sustainable supply of marine protein,” Goldblatt said.

My feeling is, this kind of agreement with fisherfolk worldwide, where specialized reefing is developed and deployed to enhance overall marine life, in exchange for commitments to practice sustainable fisheries, is something we can all support for the good of the world and the good of the hungry people of the world.

Contact Fish Reef Project through its website to offer your support for worldwide and local projects.

— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit to learn more about the organization and how you can help. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.