The Reef Defenders (RD) is an NGO registered in Hong Kong (19/56446), that was founded in June 2015 by a group of high school and undergraduate students who were determined to see an end to Blast Fishing in South East Asia. We began as a passionate group of divers who were determined to eradicate blast fishing and restore our marine ecosystems to their former glory. Using a scientific approach, we began by collecting environmental data on key areas of focus within Hong Kong, Malaysia and Philippines. The environmental data includes blast records; fish counts and coral health figures using ReefCheck CoralWatch. We acquired a Hong Kong company, Oceanway Corporation Ltd (OCL) as a partner and supplier of blast monitoring equipment. We embarked on collecting data to fully understand the problem’s scope and to develop a tailored solution. The fish survey used was developed in house by Marine Scientists, part of the RD team.
Our approach is focused on working with key stakeholders, we have partnered with local and international NGO’s such as ReefCheck and Reef Guardian. We have also worked with local governments, resorts and fishing communities. This means that our solution can effectively incorporate the needs of these stakeholders for maximum benefit for the involved parties.
We have since enlarged the scope of our solution to encompass the entirety of destructive fishing. As our research, has shown that the motivations behind many destructive fishermen in South-East Asia is a combination of high levels of poverty and inability to access education and alternative opportunity, which leads to them being trapped in a cycle of poverty.
Our vision for the region is to use alternative livelihood and education projects to bring about systematic change at the lowest levels of the problems to once again see these beautiful waters as they were meant to be seen. Our organization is now looking to retrench these fishermen within two major industries in these regions with virtually unlimited carrying capacity and room for growth; tourism and aquaculture.