Breathing space for a marine world under pressure

A small, motorized fishing boat heads out to sea from the port of Sinabang, leaving behind the remote island of Simeulue, off the coast of western Sumatra. Noticeable on the deck is a tangle of plastic tubes, linked up to a roaring, spluttering engine. The on-board fishers are going “compressor fishing,” a practice that involves divers searching the seabed for lucrative octopus, grouper and sea cucumber, all the while relying on air supplied by a single plastic lifeline, snaking precariously up to the surface. The rewards can be great—fishers are able to stay deep underwater for long periods, harvesting catches that would be inaccessible to those using other fishing techniques. However, this method is fraught with dangers, as local Simeulue fisher, Anhar, can testify.

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