Saturday, 12 December 2009

Proposed amendments to CITES appendices

In March 2010 CITES (What is CITES? ) Parties will meet to discuss the potential inclusion of the marine species to the convention appendices list:

  1. Lamna nasus - Porbeagle
  2. Sphyrna lewini - Scalloped hammerhead
  3. Sphyrna mokarran - Great hammerhead
  4. Sphyrna zygaena - Smooth hammerhead
  5. Carcharhinus plumbeus - Sandbar shark
  6. Carcharhinus obscurus - Dusky shark
  7. Carcharhinus longimanus - Oceanic whitetip
  8. Squalus acanthias - Spiny dogfish
  9. Northern Bluefin tuna - Thunnus thynnus

The shark species are all threatened by overfishing for sharks fin soup, for meat consumption and as a result of fishing bycatch. The bluefin tuna is overexploited to feed the worldwide sushi craze..

We hope that these inclusions are accepted and measures implemented as soon as possible. Inclusion of additional shark species (only the whale shark and basking sharks are currently protected) is important, the bluefin tuna is on the verge of complete collapse and efforts to protect this wonderful animal are too little but hopefully not too late.

There are often strong political resistence to expanding the list of protected animals.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Bluefin consumption in Hong Kong

WWF in Hong Kong has successfully managed to get some high profile restaurants to ban the sale of bluefin tuna in their outlets. Too little for now, but a start...

Bluefin tuna, in a food market in Barcelona

Article can be found here

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Lessons from the visit to Hong Kong of a humpback whale

The visit in early/mid March of a humpback whale in Hong Kong was an amazing and unexpected event, and provoked a lot of interest with the Hong Kong public.

To the credit of the Hong Kong authorities (AFCD) when it became clear that the whale was showing signs of distress from this attention, they quickly implemented measures to ensure that disturbance to the animal was minimised. These steps were successful and the good news is that the whale has not been seen since the 26th March, presumably finding his way back to his normal migratory route.

If only such a proactive approach could be taken with other species that are not protected in Hong Kong, such as the whale shark.

Visit the website from Living Seas Hong Kong to read the full article. (Click HERE )

Thursday, 1 January 2009

Glimmer of hope for Pacific tuna - but only a glimmer

An article from Greenpeace international points to weakness in the agreements from Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission. This is likely to continue to result in continued overfishing of bluefin and skipjack tuna fisheries. Objections to plans were raised by China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea and the Philippines.

The small glimmer of hope is the banning of purse seine fisheries in two high seas pockets between Pacific Island countries. Click here for description of purse seine fishing

Implications for me are that tuna is mostly off the menu. Albacore tuna is probably still okay.

Check out the following:

Monday, 22 December 2008

Finally MSC certified shrimp/prawn fisheries

Guess I took my eye off this for a while. There are now three certified sustainable shrimp fisheries in the world.

Good news, shrimp without the guilt.

Now I just need to find where I can buy them in Hong Kong

Monday, 1 December 2008

The end of the Atlantic Bluefin tuna in sight?

ICCAT, the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas, is a group responsible for the management of fisheries for tuna and related species in the atlantic ocean. The group has enraged conservationists by setting a bluefin tuna fisheries quota for 2009 of 22,000 tonnes, this is 7,000 tonnes higher than scientific advice. Reports are mentioning that the EU skuppered plans by the US to impose the correct limit.

This is really a horrible situation, the death of a magnificent species is at hand.

My suggestion. Write to Joe Borg, EU Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries and/or ICCAT. Contact details as follows:

Joe Borg email

ICCAT at email or to the following address

Corazón de María, 8.
28002 Madrid,

Interesting articles on this subject at the following URL's
Telegraph newspaper

European commission news release. Noticable for not mentioning the scientific advice.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Bluefin tuna in trouble

This is an excellent post from the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Have a look at the video as well:

I'm sure we all know what a magnificent animal the bluefin tuna is, however it isn't soft and cuddly like a giant panda and doesn't necessarily get the public attention it deserves, but that doesn't mean that they should not be preserved. From an ecological perspective they are an alpha predator and we don't fully understand what effect removing this animal has on the marine environment that we are dependent on.

We need to stop eating endangered species. The Monteray Bay aquarium does a great job of highlighting the seafood to eat and the seafood to avoid.

I have blogged previously about other regional seafood guides. Have a look.

Monday, 26 May 2008

11 pelagic sharks listed as endangered

The IUCN has listed 11 pelagic sharks and rays as threatened with extinction. Pelagic species are traditionally seen as resilient, this study shatters this illusion

Grey reef shark. Not part of this study but also increasingly under pressure from overfishing

Fuller story can be found
Click HERE

Thursday, 20 March 2008

We should all reduce waste

This video clip, about reducing our individual wasteful habits, will at first sight seem not related to marine conservation issues. However the huge amounts of plastics and waste thrown into the worlds oceans has a direct and catastrophic effect on the worlds oceans. Plastics are consumed in error and kill multitudes of wild animals. Watch out for the horrific image of the dead bird with its stomach full of discarded cigarette lighters.

Reduction of waste is vital, and not just for reducing the number and size of landfills..

Thursday, 6 March 2008

now and then - fishy business

Interesting article in the SCMP last Sunday about the fishing industry in Hong Kong. Details can be found on the livingseas website. by clicking here:

Click here

Thursday, 21 February 2008

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Use of Shark products in cosmetics

In an article titled "Unilever ends the use of shark products in its cosmetics" Oceana also point the way to consumers needing to be better informed of what osmetic firms are using in their cosmetics.

Quotation from Oceana
“Oceana is satisfied to see that some of the biggest names in the cosmetics industry are recognizing their corporate social responsibilities and choosing not to contribute to the extinction of these important animals,” said Rebecca Greenberg, a marine scientist with Oceana and coordinator of the shark campaign. “We encourage people to become educated and responsible consumers by asking cosmetic retailers about squalene sources and directing their purchases towards companies that have never used this animal-based product in cosmetics or that have made the decision to replace it.”

Actually I was completely ignorant of this use. But not anymore.

Full article can be found here.

Monday, 10 December 2007

Cutting total catches increases profitability

Research is showing that fishermen will make even more profit than thought if they let stocks rebuild.

The simple reason is that when stocks are plentiful they become easier and cheaper to catch.

This is not rocket science but is a departure from traditional fisheries management, where the maximum highest sustainable catches are set so as to not deplete stocks.

The research shows that there would be higher profits if stocks were kept at a higher level.

"We calculate that we should be conserving about 65% of the virgin biomass whereas at the moment we're down to about 30%."
Source:BBC (Quentin Grafton, Australian National University,Canberra

This is good news for those of us that want to see marine biodiversity maintained.

The full report from the BBC can be found

Thanks to Charlie for passing this on

WWF-HK starts a shark fin campaign

WWF Hong Kong has launched a shark fin campaign on the 3rd December, aimed at highlighting the
  1. Most shark fisheries are poorly managed and unsustainable.
  2. Huge wastage, 90-95% of the shark is disposed of after the fins are cut off.
  3. 20% of the 546 shark species on the IUCN redlist are threatened with extinction.

Consumers should stop eating shark fin and restaurants should stop selling it.

The full story can be found Click HERE

Thursday, 6 December 2007

Fish don't have many friends

This is so true...
we all love polar bears and tigers, flamingos and eagles but how many friends do fascinating fish have?

Thanks to Dr. Martin for passing me this.

Hong Kong marine species struggling to survive

A recent study and press release from WWF-Hong Kong highlights the plight of some of Hong Kong's favourite marine species, including the green turtle, horseshoe crab and chinese bahaba.

Also worth noting is :

"the dire situation facing the globally Critically Endangered Chinese Bahaba and locally depleted Hong Kong Grouper, both well-known edible fish in Hong Kong, were largely unknown to the general public. Mr Alex Fong, Ocean's 10 Ambassador of WWF Hong Kong said, "The polling results show charismatic marine species such as the Chinese white dolphin and Green turtle have received far greater public attention than commercially important fishes"

Sounds like a familiar story. There is a need to focus on better protection not only on individual species but the setup and real complete protection of a variety of marine habitats.

The story from WWF can be found here:

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Whaling starts again in earnest

The Japanese have been routinely slammed in the western press for increasing their planned hunts for whales this year and to include humpback whales for the first time in decades. Under the pretense of scientific research they are planning to kill more than 1000 whales.

"The fleet intends to kill more than 1,000 whales while in the Southern Ocean, including 50 endangered fin whales, 50 threatened humpback whales and 935 minke whales. " Source : Greenpeace

The slaughter of endangered fin and humpback whales is inexcusable. These species are IUCN listed, respectively as
  1. Endangered ("A taxon is Endangered when it is considered to be facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild" source: and
  2. Vunerable ("A taxon is Vulnerable when it is considered to be facing a high risk of extinction in the wild")
However in my opinion.
  • It would be better in many ways if we did not interfere with the natural world at all, however excluding human extinction this is not realistic or achievable and thus I have no real problem in sustainable fishing of a species, the current levels of hunting minke whales is sustainable
  • From a conservation perspective, the West's argument about species killing needs to be consistent, not just focused on high profile intelligent or cuddly animals
  • all species in the world have a right to live whether they are minke whales, napoleon wrasse, corals or ameoba
  • Inconsistent treatment confuses the conservation and species protection message, we should be focused on ensuring ecological balance, let the natural balance of life work its wonder.


Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Fish dumping will ruin industry (sic)

Interesting report on the BBC, sent to me by a good friend, this also made the BBC World Service and BBC News 24. The story is that Europeanfishermen are complaining that because they have already exceeded their fishing quota for various whitefish (cod, haddock and whiting) they have to through away significant quantities of valuable by-catch from allowed prawn trawling.

The report(s) can be found here:

The destruction and wastage is terrible and very very sad of course, but my believe is that the fishing industry is wholly responsible.

Here is my suggestions.
  1. European wide fishing quotas must remain and need to be strictly enforced based on scientific evidence.
  2. Fazing out of trawling within areas of high biodiversity, and introduction of penalities for their use.
  3. Investment into sustainable shrimp fishing and shrimp farming.
  4. Consumer education and labelling into the shrimp industry and the source for shrimps on supermarket shelfs.

The above should also be introduced into the Asia Pacific region as an urgent matter

Saturday, 10 November 2007

Fishing ban called for Bluefin tuna

WWF is calling for a three year closure of the fisheries industry in European waters. The timing of this proclaimation is aligned with the meeting of International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) — meeting from 9 to 18 November in Antalya, Turkey.

This is a follow up to an earlier blog on Bluefin Tuna, click here

Miracle if anything positive comes out of this ICCAT meeting, as there is a history of indecision.

This latest story can be found here:

Thursday, 8 November 2007

South East Asia's Oceans running out of fish

A new report from Australia's Lowy Institute spells out what we have all know for a long time, overfishing in South East Asia is depleting SE Asia's fish stocks and coral reefs. Source:Environmental News Network

Few quick points

  1. Fisheries in the region have expanded dramatically in the past few decades
  2. Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and Philippines are now inthe top 12 fish producing countries in the world.
  3. In the Gulf of Thailand, the density of fish had declined by 86 percent from 1961 to 1991, while between 1966 and 1994 the catch per hour in the Gulf by trawlers fell more than sevenfold.
  4. In the Gulf of Tonkin, where Vietnam shares resources with China, the record was even worse with fish catch per hour in 1997 only a quarter of that in 1985.
  5. In the Philippines, most marine fisheries were overexploited by the 1980s, with catch rates as low as 10 percent of rates when these areas were lightly fished.
  6. As the fourth largest country in world fish production, Indonesia is a fisheries giant. Yet ... Indonesian marine fisheries resources are close to fully exploited and a significant number in all areas are over-exploited.

Recommendations in the report include

  1. Help Southeast Asian countries build their capacity for fisheries management.
  2. The principle of stakeholder inclusion in its fisheries interventions by stressing the importance of including views from fishers’ representatives, environmental organisations, community and women’s interests, consumers and the private sector representing the retail, food service and fish processing sectors.
  3. Substantial increase in the amount of marine conservation research.
  4. Regional bodies such as APFIC, ASEAN and SEAFDEC need to create a regional process to assess fisheries resources and to provide advice to fisheries managers in a form suitable for local use.
  5. Consumer information, correct labelling of country and source of origin, in an effort to increase awareness of and pressure for sustainable fish products as well as combat illegal fishing.

Full report can be found on the Lowy Institute website as follows: