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Fishermen Threatened by Cyanide and Dynamite

by the Fish Site Editor
25 February 2009, at 12:00am

PHILIPPINES - After 40 years of unregulated cyanide and dynamite fishing thousands of people in the western Philippines are in danger of losing their livelihoods.

According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the trade in live reef fish bound for expensive seafood restaurants in China is facing imminent collapse. Sixty per cent of all fish taken from the reefs around Palawan province, 600 kilometres south-west of Manila, are now juveniles, a good indication that it has been highly overfished.

"The trade in live reef fish in Palawan supports more than 100,000 people, many of whom have few alternatives for livelihoods, yet the fishery is highly unregulated and is in a serious state of decline," said Geoffrey Muldoon, live reef fish strategy leader for WWF.

"Under the business-as-usual scenario, Palawan's live reef fish trade will become economically unviable within the next decade," he added.

In a bid to help save the more than 100-million-dollar-a-year trade, WWF convened a meeting with the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development, fish traders and fishermen to discuss the sustainable management of the fishery.

Among the measures to be discussed to regulate the industry are the introduction of accreditation processes, quotas, levies, and surveillance and monitoring systems.

Muldoon said the meeting was also part of efforts to establish a regional alliance with traders from other live fish trade hubs, such as those in Indonesia and Malaysia.

"This alliance will provide a unified voice for fishers and traders to express their social and economic concerns as well as provide the regional network needed to pursue a more sustainable trade," he said.

The Philippines is the biggest supplier of most high-value live reef fish, such as coral trout, which are caught often with the use of cyanide or explosives.

The live reef fish trade from Palawan has serviced the appetite for fresh tropical fish at expensive lunches and expensive banquets in seafood restaurants in Hong Kong and China since the 1980s.

the Fish Site Editor