Asia Minute: Scientists Warn Fish in the Philippines Are at Risk

Jun 14, 2016

Bumphead Parrotfish
Credit Wikimedia Commons

Sustainable seafood is an important part of Hawai‘i’s local diet.  The Hawai‘i Seafood Council lists sixteen species of wild and sustainable fish that come from waters around the islands.  But the waters around the Philippines are facing new challenges when it comes to sustainable fishing. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

Nearly five-dozen species of reef fish are at risk of elimination in waters around the Philippines.  That dire warning comes from one of that country’s oldest conservation groups—the Haribon Foundation—which conducted an extensive study of fish populations over two years.

Working with Britain’s Newcastle University, the group interviewed nearly 27,000 fishermen across the Philippines—tracking what fish are showing up less frequently in catches.  Researchers have identified 59 species they say may disappear from local waters over the next 15 to 25 years unless fishing practices are changed.  The endangered fish range from giant grouper to the mangrove red snapper and the bumphead parrotfish.

The project’s manager told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that “the alarming loss of fishes is telling us that there’s not much time left for action.”  The study says overharvesting and illegal fishing are to blame for the decline in marine life…and that’s been complicated by uneven enforcement of existing laws.  A marine biologist with the foundation says those practices have been linked to the growing population of the Philippines and the growth of export markets from China to Hong Kong and Singapore.

The study was published in PLOS-1…the journal of the US based Public Library of Science.