Illegal Spearfishing Recorded Over the Weekend

A concerned citizen informed Nature Foundation staff that three men were illegally spearfishing in the waters close to the GEBE plant. On St. Maarten it is illegal to possess or use a spear gun without the necessary permits. The men in question shot a porcupine fish and started to skim it while it was still alive. Porcupinefish are fish of the family Diodontidae, and are also commonly called blowfish.

 Porcupinefish are medium to large sized fish, and are found in shallow temperate and tropical seas worldwide and have the ability to inflate their body by swallowing water or air, thereby becoming rounder. This increase in size (almost double vertically) reduces the range of potential predators to those with much bigger mouths. A second defense mechanism is provided by the sharp spines, which radiate outwards when the fish is inflated.

Of particular concern regarding this species is that they are extremely poisonous, having a tetrodotoxin in their internal organs such as the ovaries and liver. This neurotoxin is at least 1200 times more potent than cyanide. The poison is produced by several types of bacteria that are obtained via the fish’s diet. The toxin is known to kill within hours.

The Nature Foundation urges all to respect laws regarding spearfishing and to be informed regarding the fish which they take. The Foundation is following up with the authorities on this and other incidents of illegal spearfishing which occurred over the weekend.