06 September 2008

What the fish: Can eat or not?

A seafood guide for Singapore soon! WWF announced today that they would be coming up with a guide on the seafood eaten in Singapore to guide consumers in making a more sustainable choice.
This is the Hong Kong fish guide, from the WWF website.

WWF also launched a two-year project to get Singapore restaurants and hotels to serve up less of the grouper and another fish, the Napolean wrasse, also known as the humphead wrasse.

After Hong Kong, Singapore is the second-largest consumer of these fish in the region.

WWF says more than 500 tonnes of fish consumed in Singapore in a year are coral reef fish, and three-quarters of these are various types of grouper. The reason the consumption of the grouper and the wrasse is worrying conservationists is that these fish are at the top of the food chain in the reefs.

'When they are gone, it means other fish normally eaten by them will increase in number. And some of these fish are harmful to the reefs'

'We're not saying one has to stop eating fish but perhaps we can choose to eat those which are in abundant supply. With the seafood guide, we hope to help consumers make these decisions.'

According to AVA, Singaporeans consume about 120,000 tonnes of fish a year, most of them from the waters of Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam. Among the 15 most popular fish consumed here are the Spanish mackerel, commonly known as batang, salmon, pomfret and seabass.

WWF also says destructive fishing practices, such as blast or cyanide fishing, pose a serious risk to the health of reef ecosystems and the long-term future of the live reef fish trade.

The WWF has already produced such guides for Hong Kong and Indonesia.

This is the Indonesian fish guide, from the WWF website.

More about the fish guide
from the WWF HK fish guide
What is the aim of a fish guide?

Call the 'Seafood Choice Initiative', it aims to tackle the problems with marine fisheries and aquaculture through 'consumer-power'.

Do people care?

According to a 2005 TNS survey, conducted on behalf of WWF, more than 70% of people in Hong Kong didn't know or were unsure of the origins of the seafood they consumed. And more than 50% of them didn't know whether there were any environmental impacts associated with the food they ate. But an impressive 97% of the Hong Kong public said they would either stop or reduce their seafood consumption if they knew a species was threatened.

How were the different species assessed for the HK fish guide?

All species were assessed using rigorous criteria for either wild caught, or farmed species, developed collaboratively by a number of WWF offices, including Hong Kong. For wild-caught seafood, we examined in detail whether the fishery is sustainably managed, and whether the fishing methods are destructive to the environment. For farmed seafood, we looked at the impacts of disease, pollution, the use of medicine, and where the juvenile animals come from.

Updates of the seafood guide

The ultimate aim of the guide is not to completely halt the fishing or farming of any marine fishes or invertebrates, including those currently in the "Avoid" category. WWF recognises the importance of marine species as food. Rather, we hope that gradually all fisheries will become properly managed, and that the problematic side-effects of aquaculture become addressed. With this in mind WWF will periodically update the seafood guide to reflect changes in the way that wild-caught and farmed species are caught and reared. We will also update this webpage with the latest changes, assessments for new species, and more detailed information, to create an invaluable resource for consumers and the industry.
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