Catching Fish with Potassium in Berau Allegedly Causes the Deaths of Birds and Sea Turtles

The illegal fishing using potassium in the sea waters of Berau District is increasingly worrying, because it is not only unsustainable but also suspected of killing birds and sea turtles. The illegal fishing activities monitored in October 2019 were allegedly carried out by fishermen from Balikukup and Maratua Islands, Berau District, east Kalimantan.

The modus operandi of the culprits is usually by diving at night using a modified compressor for breathing aid. Night is the best time to avoid the patrol officers. The divers then squirt the potassium into the coral reef. Some fish affected by this poison will faint so the fishermen will easily catch the fish with a net.

In addition to damaging coral reefs and killing large numbers of fish, fishing with potassium is also thought to have a negative impact on other species, birds and sea turtles. In October 2019, rangers of the Indonesian Turtle Foundation (locally abbreviated as YPI) who guards the Belambangan Island, have found at least 6 dead large birds.

It is strongly suspected that the dead birds were caused by exposure to the residue of the potassium because they ate the affected fish by the potassium. The rangers also found a hawksbill turtle that died mysteriously.

"PROFAUNA urges the local government of Berau Regency and the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries to take firm action against fishing using potassium, because in addition to killing birds and turtles, in the long run it will also harm fishermen themselves," said Rosek Nursahid, Chairperson of PROFAUNA Indonesia.

According to Law number 45 of 2009 concerning the Amendment to Law no 31 of 2004 about Fisheries, anyone who deliberately owns, controls, carries, and / or uses fishing equipment and / or fishing aids that interfere with and damage the sustainability of fish resources is liable to imprisonment for a maximum of 5 (five) years and a maximum fine of  2,000,000,000 IDR (two billion rupiah).

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ProFauna Indonesia is an Indonesian society for the protection of
wild animals and their habitats