For example, the total biomass of bottom swimming (demersal) fish at depths to 50 metres in the Straits of Malacca off the west coast of Malaysia declined to 11% of levels at the beginning of the 1970's. A similar trend is found for deeper waters of the Straits, for Indonesian fisheries in the Java Sea, and indeed for most coastal fisheries of South East Asia.
WorldFish says governments have recognized that the fishing capacity being rebuilt post-tsunami "should be commensurate with the productive capacity of the fisheries resources and their sustainable utilization." And Indonesia has agreed that a key guiding principle is to "consider environmental sustainability throughout" and to use fisheries management tools prevent over-fishing.
"Given the likely depletion of fish stocks in the tsunami affected areas, what is certain is that these conditions cannot be met by simply returning fishing capacity to the pre-tsunami state, allowing stocks to continue on their downward spiral and condemning fishers to become even more vulnerable," WorldFish says.
"Yet there is a very real risk that this will happen if our rehabilitation response is developed without due thought given to the complexities involved and is dominated by easy and ill-considered options for replacing lost boats and gear.
"It would be a dangerous over-simplification, for example, to argue that with the death of such a high proportion of fishers, providing boats and gear to those that remain presents no risk to the sustainability of stocks or to the longer-term livelihoods of fishers."
WorldFish warns that:
1. The catching power of new boats and fishing gear is likely to be higher than those they replaced;
2. When other livelihood options are unavailable new entrants into the fishery can be expected. Entry of new participants may even be facilitated by the availability of new boats and gear or else lead to the resumption of