Nyepi is a sacred day of silence and no work in Bali to reflect on the past year. However this is not shared by neighbouring islands and in previous years this day has been used as an opportunity for fishermen from Java to come to North West Bali to Menjangan island while it is unprotected and use dynamite to catch the fish. The dynamite destroys the coral habitat causing lasting damage to the reef and fish comunity.This year a group of commited rangers and Friends of Menjangan stayed guard a the island and kept away approaching fishermen.
Here the story is told by Pak Suparno:
“Our experience during silent day at Menjangan Island. Silent day in Bali was celebrated on 12th March 2013. This is the time when boat men from Java, take a chance for catching fish in Menjangan by Dynamite fishing. During the time the rangers of the park take off because they have to celebrate the silent day with their family. So we are the people who also want to protect the island. We don’t want to loose the coral and fish over there. So we had an idea to stay at Menjangan Island for two days. We are 46 people coming to Menjangan Island on 11th March in the afternoon. The people came from Labuan Lalang and Banyuwedang harbor.
We arrive at Menangan at around 4 o’clock and we found several boat over there from Java. We suspect they are catching fish. We don’t want to confront them so we tried to negotiate and asked them to leave Menjangan. We also tried to explain that Menjangan is protected and catching fish with Dynamite can destroy the reef. In the night at 01:30, we patrol the island and found nothing but in the morning on 12th march around 05:00 we found one boat with two men catching fish with nets and walking on the corals. We took them to the ranger station and put some questions to them, and asked them why they catch fish there. We also explain to them they are destroying the coral by walking on it. They made a statement later for us that they will not do it again.
At 12:30 we found several big boats from Java also try to get closer to Menjangan island. So we all showed our force and presence at the island to intimidate them. So they did not get any closer. The people in the boat also stood up facing us.. like a challenge – we stayed there not moving then after 1 and half hours they moved away. When they are leaving we returned to the ranger station.
After that all was quiet until in the night at 01:30 we patrolled again and found nothing.
We hope that these men will tell others in Java that Menjangan Island is secure and taken care of – controlled even in the silent day, and so there will less next year. We are coming again in the silent day next year with more people but we hope there will be no boats.”