“Bajo are Illegal Fishermen”
When I was in Wakatobi I also met a young Bajo man, called Sadar, who is working for the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). His work is to inform Bajo communities about the devastating effects of dynamite and cyanide fishing.
“Many Bajo don’t like my work”, he says. “For some of them the ocean is only about business. They only care about catching the fish”.
Sadar estimates that as many as 20% of the Bajo fishermen are using destructive fishing methods. “But many of them are still using the pana, the spear”, Sadar says, “and it is mostly businessmen with contacts in Makassar or Manado that are using the bombs”.
I ask if there are other groups using dynamites and cyanide, and he says “yes”. “But Bajo is the group that are using most destructive methods. It is sad, but that is the reality”.
The WWF-project in Wakatobi has been successful and less and less people are using dynamite in Wakatobi today. “But in other places, as for example in Kendari some miles north of Wakatobi, there are much more illegal fishermen”, Sadar says. “But no conversation project”. The reason is simple: Wakatobi is a national park and is important for the Indonesian tourism industry. Outside the national park it is business as usual.