Do People Really Fish With Dynamite?

Do People Really Fish With Dynamite?

Fishing with dynamite, or blast fishing as
it’s more accurately known, despite sounding like something more suited to a Looney Tunes
cartoon, is a genuine and well-documented practice that is still commonplace in select
areas of the globe today. This is more than a little unfortunate for
the many fish and marine animals that call the oceans and lakes their home due to the
invariably cataclysmic impact the practice has on local aquatic ecosystems. Exactly when blast fishing first began is
hard to pinpoint, but it should come as no surprise that it seems to have become popular
within decades of dynamite being invented in 1867 (incidentally invented by Alfred Nobel,
known today for the Nobel Prizes, but in his time as “the merchant of death”). While someone probably fished using improvised
or homemade explosives prior to the invention of dynamite, the creation of a commercially
available, relatively safe to handle and inexpensive explosive made it an option for the wider
public. As for the first documented references to
this method of fishing, while it is certain that there were many earlier instances, the
first we could find was an 1894 reference to a man being arrested for the crime of blast
fishing, as reported in the New York Democratic Herald: John Tickwich was arrested at Binnewater for
destroying fish in one of the Binnewater lakes with dynamite. He had just exploded a number of cartridges,
killing several hundred fish, and was gathering them into his boat when arrested. The prisoner will be taken before the State
Game Protectors of Albany. Five years is the penalty for the crime. Another early reference to blast fishing likewise
comes from it being banned, this time in Hong Kong. In 1898, the government asked fishermen to
stop blast fishing and that the fisherman police themselves over the matter. The governor also issued the following statement
to fishermen: “The practice of fishing by means of dynamite is unnecessarily destructive
and contrary to the spirit of true sport.” As you might imagine, little seems to have
changed as a result of this request, so the government stepped up their game on the issue,
officially outlawing blast fishing in Hong Kong in 1903. Despite the governments of the world seemingly
realising blast fishing was a bad idea pretty much right from the start, this method of
fishing’s popularity quite literally exploded throughout the world thanks to WW1 and WW2. Soldiers from both sides of each conflict
made extensive use of explosives in fishing while stationed in foreign countries, a practice
locals took notice of and copied. As an example of this, Japanese soldiers stationed
in the Pacific during World War 2 are noted to have given out hand grenades to locals
to be used for fishing. In return, the locals were required to share
the fish they’d catch with the soldiers. As a result of this, many Pacific islanders
became incredibly adept in the handling of various explosive devices. This is knowledge they put to use after the
war, taking advantage of the numerous explosives left behind to construct their own makeshift
fishing bombs. For instance, on the small island nation of
Palau, even as late as the 1960s, huts could be found containing large caches of undetonated
WW2 explosives, with the compounds within the devices, or the devices themselves, slated
to be later used for fishing. As the availability of unused munitions from
World War 2 dwindled, the islanders began to use more commercially available explosives
or, more often for small time fishermen, simply constructed their own using readily available
materials. For instance, former blast fisherman Abdul
Karim Laing noted that all one needs is a bit of fertilizer, gasoline, matchsticks,
and a beer bottle to make a very effective explosive for fishing with. But as you might imagine, such home-made bombs
can be very dangerous and fishing in this way tends to make the practice not only devastating
for marine life, but occasionally for the humans doing the fishing as well. fishermanFor instance Mwanya Sleiman, a former
blast fisherman in Tanzania who has since become a staunch opponent of the practice,
accidentally blew off both of his hands when a home-made explosive detonated when he was
trying to light the fuse. As for why he used to fish this way, he noted,
“My motivation was just the money I got from selling the fish but I didn’t know
about the impact it would have on me or the underwater environment.” Speaking of Tanzania, blast fishing is outlawed
there due to it not only negatively impacting tourism, but also because they’ve seen a
drastic decline in fish stock as a result. As one Tanzanian fisherman lamented, Blast fishing destroys the fish habitats under
water where fish reproduce and that has had a big impact, especially on us who use ring
nets to fish… The number of fish has drastically reduced
we are not able to catch many fish like before… He also stated that reporting blast fishing
did little good in the region because “When [the blast fishermen] are arrested, they bribe
and come back, and if they find out that you reported them they mark you and threaten to
hurl explosives on your boat, so sometimes we are scared to report them.” Speaking of this, while blast fishing is technically
outlawed by most countries of the world, it remains incredibly popular in places such
as the Philippines, Indonesia and coastal African nations both due to the general apathy
of local law enforcement and how much easier it is in the short term to get a big catch
this way. The latter point is, of course, the key reason
blast fishing is considered so difficult to stamp out. When a fisherman can acquire what would otherwise
be his entire daily quota of fish using more traditional netting methods in a few minutes
by hucking a few well-placed, extremely inexpensive explosive devices into the ocean, there’s
little incentive for many of them to do it the hard way. We can scoff at the shortsightedness of these
individuals, but it’s important to note that many are completely ignorant of the long
term damage they’re doing to the fisheries they depend on. And even for those who know, they have families
to feed, often with few resources to do it, and may not be overly concerned about what
will happen years down the line if they continue blast fishing. So what’s the problem with blast fishing? To begin with, as alluded to previously, there
is the danger posed to the fishermen (often using home-made explosives) and potential
swimmers and scuba divers (particularly a problem in touristy coastal areas). Another big problem is the efficiency of this
method of fishing. Blast fishing works by bursting the air bladders
and sometimes other organs of the fish in the immediate area. The result is that some of the fish float
to the surface to be collected. However, it’s estimated that approximately
ten times that amount go the other way and sink to the bottom as a result of the ruptured
air bladders. Beyond this all being incredibly inefficient,
it should also be noted that according to one fish trader in Tanzania’s Dar es Salaam
fish market, she tries to stay away from blast fishing caught fish, because she claims the
fish caught in this way “rot very fast – by the time you get home they are rotten. Some buyers and sellers don’t know that
so they buy them.” But these aren’t the biggest problems with
blast fishing. For that, we have to look at what the blasting
does to the ecosystem of a relatively large area around the explosion. Explosives are, by their very nature, somewhat
imprecise in their targeting, making the act of fishing with them unsustainable as they
will invariably destroy countless other marine creatures besides the fish, as well as their
underlying habitats like coral reefs. Most critical for the fishermen, this ultimately
destroys the habitat for the fish themselves. This means the fish that survive in the area
now have fewer resources to live on, and in many cases their normal breeding grounds are
destroyed, further reducing the fish population beyond what the initial blast does. Unsurprisingly from this, as with Tanzania,
areas where blast fishing is prevalent tend to see a rapid decline in fish stock. Nevertheless, blast fishing remains a problem
in some regions, even where authorities have made a concerted effort to crack down on it. That said, perhaps the cleverest way to stop
blast fishermen we could find was implemented in the Philippines where authorities dropped
statuettes of the Virgin Mary underwater across the country’s coastline and announced it
to the public. This cut instances of blast fishing almost
overnight as many fisherman from the predominantly Catholic region didn’t dare risk harming
an image of one of the most revered figures of their faith.

100 thoughts on “Do People Really Fish With Dynamite?

  1. I saw someone once blast fishing in broad daylight on the Mississippi just outside of a fairly major city, right above one of the largest dams on the river…

  2. Give a poor man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him to fish with explosives and he will wreck the eco system in his lifetime.

  3. Chest hair unbuttoning shirt from the inside. Sometimes you free the beast, sometimes the beast frees itself

  4. My dad used to blast fish with something WAY cheaper than even dynamite. He grew up in the coal hills of Kentucky. Back in the day (the early 40s), coal miners used carbide lamps as their light source. The way carbide works is that it's extremely reactive with water. The old lamps held a piece of carbide at the center of the reflector. There was a leaver on the top of the lamp which controlled how much water dripped onto the carbide (becoming brighter as more water dripped onto it). When mixed with water, carbide creates acetylene gas. There was a striker next to the carbide that lit the acetylene. Blammo… "you's gots light!" When they were used up, miners would take them out of the lamp and throw them on the ground in front of the mine. My dad and his friends used to go to regularly go the mine to retrieve them.

    "How do you fish with carbide?" … I hear you ask… rather rudely. (Jesus, are you always this impatient? WTF, man… I'm getting to it) Okay, here we go:
    Step 1) — get empty (glass) mayonnaise or pickle jar.
    Step 2) — drop a few carbide pellets into the bottom of the jar.
    Step 3) — Fill the jar with (and this is extremely important) DRY sand!
    Step 4) — Pour a half-cup of water into the jar & proceed quickly to step 5.
    Step 5) — Screw the top on as tightly as you can & move quickly to step 6.
    Step 6) — Throw the jar into the pond or lake where you're "fishing".
    Step 6) — (…. wait… wait some more.. okay, any minute now… still waiting… " Jesus… are you sure you screwed the top on correctly? This seems to be taking a really long time. I'm thinking maybe you didn't pour in enough wat- HOLY SHIT! … Look at all those fish!"

    So, it doesn't ignite (because there's no spark), but the pressure keeps building up and building up from the acetylene gas. Eventually the glass simply can't hold it anymore and the jar explodes. My dad said it wasn't as effective as dynamite, but it worked plenty well enough and it was cheap to make.

  5. Yes real I've done it back in my youth with gunpowder an empty can of snuff and electrical tape and a fuse it can stun the fish from a far the only problem was it blew those to close the pieces

  6. Now that you've covered blast fishing, how about blast processing?

    (I'm either giving you an idea for a video, or giving you an excuse to mention another of your videos 😉 )

  7. When I was a kid we called them du Pont lures. And yes people actually do fish with dynamite( or m-67s, if you have any. Shhh!)

  8. the question I have is, what movies is Kyle referring to that depicts dynamite used to fish, I honestly can't recall the last movie I have seen where dynamite has been used to fish. Can anyone name any notable movies that actually prominently showed dynamite being used in fishing? I think the only one I can remember is Crocodile Dundee II, which was done purely for comedy and that was over 30 years ago.

  9. Yes but no, usually hear more use quarter sticks and etc. Glad its not common, takes away from the sport

  10. Simon should unbutton 2 buttons for next video, cuz it'd be funny torturing these folks. Ya'll making us non ocd folks lol ijs

  11. Speaking of blowing things up and errr, not reacting? Can the queen's guard really not react to people when on duty? One of our most popular videos on the channel, so if you haven't seen it, you might want to check it out. 🙂 -Daven

  12. I had no idea this horrible practice was so prevalent. Why can people not see that, among many other things, they're destroying their own future income? Humans always do this. Quick profit now trumps (pun intended) any thought of moderation and conservation.

  13. Absolutely true story, back in the 1960s my grandfather had a tributary of the New River that came thru is land. He was using dynamite to catch fish to eat, the police showed up and in their report the water disappeared for 20 sec before it filled back up. He was fined but not arrested.

  14. …I'm starting to think he leaves that button undone on purpose. This isn't the first one, and I bet it won't be the last either.

  15. They countered the stupidity of blast fishing with stupidity with the virgin mary stunt. They didn't even have to drop them in just say they did or pour little plastic ones in. HAHA

  16. I really need to go back and find that shirt sponsor for a while back. Apparently they don't want, and I don't want to make the mistake of purchasing from them like Mr. Whistler.

  17. Not quite blast fishing, but my great uncle once used dynamite to clear a drainage ditch at the front of his farm because it would take weeks to do it by hand. As he was licenced, he setup small charges a about a meter apart along the 100m ditch. Then set them off, the resulting explosion was a bit bigger than anticipated and although the ditch was cleared, most the overgrowth, junk and eels ended up hanging over the overhead power-lines he'd forgot were there, cutting off the power to most of the district for a few days. His blasting licence was promptly suspended, fortunately most of the eels were collected up, smoked and distributed to the neighbours as a gesture of "ooops, that was a bit of a fuck up".

  18. When I was a kid my grandfather told me how in Missouri they used to… Oh screw it, the button! I forgot what the video is about. The button, how… The button!! You had me until the camera cut away and I thought to myself he's got to be buttoning the shirt right now they can't allow him to come back and still not have the button buttoned!? And then.. not buttoned. The button!


  19. i know 2 people that did this, one blew their boat up after the dynomite went under the boat, and one went to the hospital after it blew up as he was throwing it

  20. I found out that my grandfather got into trouble in WW2 whilst stationed in New Guinea, for using a grenade to blast fish. Don’t know what the punishment was for he and his mate who was caught by their CO!!??

  21. Yeah. They do fish with dynamites. Like here in the Philippines, where illegal fishing still lingers.

  22. BTW, you mentioned Philippines & what's about it regarding blast fishing. Thanks for the video.

  23. Wow, this video was depressing, but good job Philippines, other countries with very religious populations may want to look into something similar. It wouldn't stop everyone, obviously, but it'd give the ecosystems a chance to recover.

  24. Another destructive fishing practice is fishing with sodium cyanide. Divers fill improvised squirt bottles with the substance which is then used to inject the poison into caves in the reef where large fish (such as the now endangered Napolean Wrasse) into caves or crevices in the reef to stun the fish that they wish to extract. The right amount of the substance will stun larger fish for a time, making them easy to grab and remove, at which point they are brought back to a boat on the surface with a tank where they are kept to recover while the divers continue the process until they have filled their tanks for the day. These fish are then brought back to holding pens where they recover and are picked up by (in the case of my geographical location) taiwanese boats which transport the fish to markets where they can be purchased live by the consumer and eaten fresh. The unfortunate side affect of this practice is that the amount of sodium cyanide needed to stun a larger fish inevitably kills smaller organisms in the vicinity, especially the coral polyps which make up the living coral reef. The obviously destroys the eco system and essential food chain in that area, so once this practice has been perpetrated there, it takes untold ages to recover (certainly the period of time is much longer than our lifetimes). So, when one goes to a seafood restaurant and sees live fish available for consumption, one can more or less be sure these fish were caught using this unsustainable practice…and no, the napolean wrasse is not a sexual aid which can help with a man achieving and maintaining erections….(although the jury is still out on whether or not ground up rhino horn sprinkled over the top of a napolean wrasse filet cooked in sauce of tiger testicles works). Something to keep in mind when you are in Asia and want to choose the fish you will eat from an aquarium…if you do that, you're supporting this practice…as for erections, viagra and cialis reportedly work wonders and don't involve the death of endangered species. Also the people who do this diving are using a normal air compressor not meant for diving, so they are destroying their lungs and brains, but thats another story entirely. The point is, you can't rationalize to even be helping the local fisherman by ignoring how they obtain them, since you are also contributing to their life span being greatly decreased….
    Maybe Simon Whistler could explain this better than i have, and give himself a chance at redemption for the unbuttoned shirt….or just do the video with ALL the buttons undone and freak everyone out…i bet your chest hair is truly something to behold

  25. Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, teach him how to fish and he will empty the oceans and seas until he starves to death.

  26. Hell yeah they do….. Been there done that as a kid…. but used M80s and Cherry bombs and a net… never used dynamite but we probably would have tried it if we could….. We use to take the fish down to the creek and sell them to folks not having to much luck…. then again we use to go out on the lake at night in our boats and shoot Roman candles and throw cherry bombs and M80s at each other, that was FUN… What country boys won't do for fun… sadly those days are over kids don't even go outside anymore 🙁 Obviously I lived in a very rural area wouldn't change it for the world…. This was in the 60s I;m an old geezer now…. ahhh memories

  27. I knew a guy who was on holiday in the Pacific Islands (this must have been 30 years back, at least), he got hit by the shockwave from someone blast fishing, knocked him out, he nearly drowned.

  28. I would think that shrapnel from the grenades or bottles would also be an issue. It's possible that it wouldn't be so much, because the water has so much resistance, but still. I wouldn't want to bite into a fish and find a shard of glass or metal.

  29. I didn't even notice the button. Too busy wondering how the fish weren't mutilated. I don't think I know how under water bombing works.

  30. You`re a poor man with a family in the 3rd world desperately trying to make a living. Spend an entire day struggling to get a few fish in 8 hours or get lots in a few minutes to sell and eat? You`re not going to worry about the future in years when your immediate needs of you and your family is to survive.

  31. Come on now, everyone knows it’s not properly Blast Fishing unless copious amounts of alcohol have been consumed.

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