I want to share with you an article that appeared in the March / April edition of Scuba Diving. I have added and edited the original to reflect the conditions in Cebu, Philippines.
Over fishing especially of reef fish is a serous problem in the Philippines. The coral reefs, which should be teeming with fish at all stages of development, are often depleted of any sizeable fish. Such fish have been caught either for the dinner table of the numerous local fishermen who use a hook and line or they have been caught (often using illegal methods) for the live fish restaurant trade in Asia. If we all followed the following steps, then there would be a much better chance that sustainable fishing practices would be followed.
- If you travel to the Philippines and find yourself in a seafood restaurant (especially one offering live fish from the tank) choose not to eat the grouper species. This fish is commonly known in the Philippines as lapu-lapu. Review the list at the end of this blog, for a list of fish that can safely be selected and those that should definitely not be chosen.
- Ask where your seafood comes from or how it was caught. Many live fish are caught by using either dynamite fishing or with arsenic poisoning. As more and more people ask these questions, restaurant, hotel and resort owners will feel more obliged to provide such information and will feel the growing demand for more responsibly caught seafood.
- Talk to your friends about the importance of sustainable seafood. Tweet about it and post it on Facebook.
- Support and promote restaurants, hotels and resorts that serve responsibly caught seafood.
- Read more about the Live Fish Trade at panda.org and learn more about WWF’s sustainable seafood work at worldwildlife.org
Here is a list of safe choices for seafood in the Philippines:
- marine catfish;
- milk fish;
- rainbow runners;
- little mackerel;
- spanish mackerel;
- tuna – albacore, eastern little, skipjack;
- trevally also known as jacks; and
- jelly fish.
Avoid eating any of the following which are under threat:
- coconut crab;
- giant clam;
- grouper also known as lapu-lapu;
- manta ray;
- napoleon wrasse;
- sun fish or mola-mola;
- sharks and shark fin;
- turtle egg;
- whale shark; and
- blue fin tuna.
Note that dolphins, turtles and whale sharks are protected species in the Philippines.