18 July 2010

Singapore restaurant serves another giant endangered grouper

Straits Times proudly featured a story of how an endangered Queensland grouper is being served by 2nd Kitchen restaurant, the second time it has done so.
In its feature, Razor TV devoted much time showing how the fish is dismembered.

In the unsubtitled Razor TV video clip, the english-speaking presenter speaks to the owner who replies in Mandarin.

From Razor TV 17 Jul 10;

The presenter speaks to a "Taiwanese grouper breeder" who responds "to those who are against eating the fish which has been listed as an endangered species". Unfortunately the response is in Mandarin and is unsubtitled. I don't speak Mandarin so I have no idea what he said.

Travis Ho shares what he thinks the "Taiwanese grouper breeder" is saying.
  • the original source of the fish is in taiping/sg/malaysia/etc
  • actually, the fish cannot be caught in taiwan
  • but taiwan now produces many of these fish
  • because taiwanese have brought this fish to taiwan
  • and reared it to become 'zhong' fish <-- either this means domesticated, or is another name for grouper after (cross breeding)?
  • now there is a lot of production so there is no fear of not having fish to eat
  • these fish can still be found in the wild they are not extinct yet
Chay Hoon's translation
The locality of the fish is the Pacific Ocean, around the region of Singapore,Indonesia and Malaysia. In fact, you cannot find such fish in Taiwan waters. But Taiwaneses had try to breed this fish in captivity and have been successful. We can still find this kind of fish in the ocean and thus no fear of it becoming extinct.
Cheng Solo's translation
It has been successfully and commercially bred in Taiwan to such epic sizes and thus there is no fear of it becoming extinct as yet.
Update: See also Siango's post on Trek to Paradise with translation and response to this issue.

The presenter also only mentioned AVA in relation to them saying that the grouper "was not the biggest fish imported into Singapore". The biggest was a tuna. Full reports on wildsingapore news.

According to the IUCN Red List, the Queensland grouper (Epinephelus lanceolatus) is the largest reef-dwelling fish in the world and was listed as Vulnerable in the mid-1990s by the IUCN in recognition of "its vulnerability with respect to exploitation".

More about the Queensland grouper in the earlier post about the first fish served by 2nd Kitchen restaurant.

Update: One reader wrote to the Straits Times Forum to lament stories in the popular press that glamorise the consumption of vulnerable or endangered fish species.
220kg grouper: 'The fish is listed as a vulnerable species'
Straits Times Forum 19 Jul 10;

MR HARVEY NEO: 'I find it disconcerting that the sale of a 220kg Queensland grouper (Epinephelus Lanceolatus) to a local restaurant was reported with such relish last Saturday ('Eatery dishing up 220kg monster fish'), to the point of detailing the various prized parts of the fish and how they can be cooked.

The fish is listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as a vulnerable species. The situation could very well be more serious because actual population data for the fish cannot be ascertained due to its rarity.

Most states in Australia have placed a partial or total ban on the fishing of the Queensland grouper as early as the 1970s. The Andaman Islands have also banned its commercial exploitation.

Such conservation efforts would come to nought if the popular press continues to glamorise the consumption of vulnerable or endangered fish species. The Queensland grouper is the world's largest reef-dwelling fish and a majestic and beautiful creature. It is a pity some can appreciate it only when it is steamed, stewed or stir-fried.'

Update: Straits Times features the issue again, highlighting the views of chef and restaurant owner Johnny Tan on the flak he has received for buying and dishing out the 220kg giant grouper.
To Mr Tan, the situation has been played up.

'People will say protect, protect, but they have little knowledge about the fish,' said the 48-year-old. He said the Queensland grouper is not rare in the region.

There are also breeding facilities for the fish in Taiwan, Malaysia and Singapore, he pointed out.

Mr Tan himself rears about 300 giant groupers in a fish farm in Sabah but they are not for consumption.
Giant Grouper eaten at Singapore restaurant: Protected species or not? Straits Times 25 Jul 10;


  1. 'Zhong yu' as mentioned by the Taiwanese breeder means breeding stock.

  2. Thanks everyone for helping with the translation!

  3. thanks TSH-- my chinese is terrible too!


  4. Hi, I've tried my best to translate it, you can see it on my 'blog'... (together with my response to the video :P)


    Hope this helps! :)

  5. Wow, thanks Siango for the post with translation and response!

    Looking forwards to more posts on your blog!

  6. As a Queenslander I am saddened to see such a wonderful threatened animal destroyed for its flesh. Of course they are valued and protected in Queensland and anyone caught doing this here would face prosecution.
    I wish bad fortune on this restaurant as they deserve nothing better. The media who have actively glorified such an irresponsible act should be ashamed.
    Such poor publicity make all Singaporeans look bad in the eyes of the world though I know from personal experience that this is not the case.



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