During the morning of the 19th August 2011, a local and professional fisherman from Koufonisia Islands was seriously injured by dynamite while attempting to carry out dynamite fishing off of the Koufonisia Islands.
The use of illegal explosive materials is an on going problem within many small fishing communities in areas of the Aegean Sea and South of Crete. Dynamite fishing has been a consistent problem on Koufonisia Islands for over a decade, occurring all year round. It also means that the livelihood of those fishermen from the island, who choose to fish by sustainable means, is put in jeopardy. The practice of dynamite fishing also challenges the viability and reputation of the island overall.
The problem of dynamite fishing is a delicate subject particularly within small island communities, due to their nature and complexity, and typically remains a common secret within the local community. There are many reasons for this including: 1) the authorities overlooking such incidents, in order to prevent negative repercussions for themselves, 2) the fear of social isolation or physical damage towards anybody associated with reporting such an incident, 3) the easy short-term gain/ easy money that can originate from such a fishing practice 4) the mutual support and close family network within the small communities, which aids in the cover up.
This latest incident provides yet further confirmation of the series of claims and allegations sent by Archipelagos Institute of Marine Conservation to all relevant national and regional authorities and departments since January this year 2011. The event, which occurred in an area which, due to the busy summer season, had a seasonal presence of local port police authorities, only emphasises the existing negligence of the authorities during this time and the indifference with which they continue to address issues of illegal and destructive fishing practices.
Based on verified sources, this matter is attempting to be covered up by members of the local community and the authorities of Koufonisia Islands. To date, Archipelagos continues to exert pressure on local and regional authorities to fulfil their responsibilities and expected duties. Dynamite fishing practices put human lives in direct danger, cause irreversible damage to the highly bio diverse marine habitats of the region, and provide the worst possible promotion of Greece to visitors, in the peak of the tourist season.