Dynamiting is a somewhat less-than-subtle approach to, say dip net fishing, but it will provide fish for the table, not to mention a substantial charge of excitement. Not surprisingly, it was said to be Saddam Hussein’s favorite fishing techniques. There exists a strange film of the dictator wearing a long coat and beret, lobbing a grenade into the water, underhanded, with aided in scuba gear gathering his “catch.”
Not everyone feels morally or environmentally, not to mention legally, comfortable tossing a lighted stick of TNT into the water. For a while a joke was making the rounds of the fisheries world. Joe invited his friend Sam to go fishing with him on his boat. They motored to the spot, and instead of casting his rod Joe took out a dynamite stick, lit it, and threw it a safe distance away. It exploded underwater, and soon fish littered the surface. Sam was shocked and screamed, “What are you doing ? This is wrong!” To which Joe replied by handling Sam another lighted dynamite charge and saying,”Are you going to talk or are you going to fish?‘.
During World War II, Gls in the South Pacific were known to use hand grenade, the ‘soldiers fishook.” to catch fish. They’d lob a charge to a likely spot among the coral, wait for the blast and soon fish bobbed all over. One time a destroyer was getting low on food , but the captain could not ask for permission to fish, inasmuch as it is not part of naval protocol. So the captain asked for approval to perform an antisubmarine exercise with the squids-squid shaped depth charges that are launched well ahead of the ship. A school of fish was located and the squids launched, with the catch rounded up in a man-overboard exercise.
Dynamite Fishing by Japan
In some places around the world, ”fishermen” create their own explosives. During World War II. The Japanese government put Palauan’s to work fishing to help feed Japan’s troops. There were many more Japanese than Palauan’s, however and most Palauan cabbies and rafts had been destroyed for security reasons. But dynamite provided by the Japanese provided a solution.
Fish bombs were made by packing beer cans about two-thirds full with gun powder. The fuse was make from match head shavings tamped into a thin bamboo rod, stuck into the powder, and sealed with man grove mud. A clever adjustment was to vary the length of the bamboo rod so that the bomb would explode at the appropriate depth for the type of fish being sought.
Dynamite Fishing in the Philippines
Blast fishing in the Philippines also arose from events of World War II. Talisay Beach was the site of fierce fighting between resisting Japanese soldier and American liberators. Among the battle field debris littering the beach after the war were large deposits of the unspent munitions and gunpowder.
Local residents, perhaps having seen during the war the effects on fish of bombs exploding off shore, began to use the beach as a laboratory for manufacturing explosives. These homemade bombs worked so well that a market developed for them in other towns and provinces.
In the Philippines, a nitrate-based fertilizer, in powder form, is still commonly used. It is mixed with gasoline or methyl alcohol, and the products is poured to the brim in soft-drink or other kinds of glass bottles. The bottle is then topped with a blasting cap or detonator and sealed with candle wax.
Blast Fishing Effects
Catching fish by blasting is the antithesis of sustainable fishing; not only does this short-sighter approach cause many useful fish to sink to the bottom with ruptured gas bladder, but it also causes enormous damage to the habitat, especially coral reefs, which reduces fish production for future generations. When a hand grenade was exploded experimentally, a diver brought up ten times as many fish from the depths as were gathered on the surface.