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MADANG, Papua New Guinea (September 26, 2000 - Post-Courier/PINA Nius Online)---Anchors from boats and dynamite fishing are major threats to Papua New Guinea’s reefs, says Australian marine biologist Matthew Mowtell.

Mr. Mowtell told Divine Word University students in Madang that PNG’s reefs were diverse compared to other reefs in the world.

Journalism degree students at Divine Word University are this week undertaking a one-week intensive workshop on environmental journalism. It includes studying threats to the Papua New Guinea environment and how to report about them.

Mr. Mowtell said that since fishing was a major enterprise in PNG, there was a risk that anchors from fishing vessels could damage many reefs.

Mr. Mowtell said over-fishing was the biggest threat because of the different methods used in fishing.

The other threat to reefs was dynamite fishing, he said.

Mr. Mowtell said many people dynamite-fished in PNG and this was very bad. Massive reefs and other marine organisms could be wiped out, he said.

He said the reefs faced other threats as well, including pollution.

Mr. Mowtell gave West New Britain as an example, where chemical run-offs from agricultural irrigation systems have caused a lot of damage to marine life.

Oil spills also killed off reefs, he said.

He said the oil on the surface of the water blocked out light and made it hard for the reef to consume energy.

"Sustainable exploitation through a middle ground is a good way to protect reefs and marine biology. If people look after the reefs, they’ll get more from it in the future," Mr. Mowtell said.

For additional reports from The Post-Courier, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The Post-Courier (Papua New Guinea).

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