MadangLagoon2005OCT_image001_1

In a grade school in Madang, a town along the north coast of Papua New Guinea (PNG), school children learn that among the different fishing methods used within the lagoon, dynamite is one. This form of collecting fish, though illegal, has become so prevalent here that it has actually made its way into the education system!

Fortunately, efforts are being made to stop dynamiting in Madang Lagoon, a 40-square kilometer body of water averaging 30–40 meters deep and spotted with numerous patch reefs and coral islands. The inner coastline contains several deep harbors and fringing reefs, while the seaward edge is bordered by a thin barrier reef that drops to 400 meters.

In addition to fishing for both subsistence and income, residents throughout Madang Lagoon collect coconuts for copra marketing or are engaged in small business such as running boats, land transport or trade stores. Gardening of yam, banana, cassava, sweet potato, taro, pumpkin, corn and various greens for consumption or local sale is also popular. Vanilla farming has been newly introduced, but lack of agricultural extension services and unpredictable markets make profiting from this activity uncertain. Many youths take employment at the tuna processing plant just outside of Madang town. Other jobs include government or other formal positions in town.