Tue, May 03, 2016 - Page 5 News List

Tourists urged to refrain from eating coral reef fish

PROVEN METHOD:The price and supply of shark fin have dropped significantly following the campaigns urging people not to eat shark fin, an official said

By Chen Yen-ting  /  Staff reporter

A sustainable seafood guide is pictured in Pingtung County’s Hengchun Township in an undated photograph.

Photo: Chen Chan-ting, Taipei Times

In a bid to conserve and protect coral reefs, the Kenting National Park Administration and National Museum of Marine Science and Technology have published a sustainable seafood guide urging park visitors to refrain from eating coral reef fish.

The coral reef fish population has increased at Houpihu (後壁湖), a marine reserve in Pingtung County’s Kenting Township (墾丁), but the influx of tourists threatens the environment, as tourists might eat coral reef fish species, so the Ocean Love Seafood Guide was prepared to raise marine conservation awareness, the administration said.

While Academia Sinica’s Biodiversity Research Center has issued a national seafood guide, the administration’s guide focuses on fish species found in the waters off Pingtung’s Hengchun Township (恆春), which is to be used to accredit seafood restaurants as being eco-friendly, the administration said.

Local restaurant owners said coral reef fish species account for only a small part of the local fish trade, but they are pleased to see authorities take measures to promote sustainability.

Peak coral spawning in Kenting occurs around the birthday of the goddess Matsu, or the 23rd day of the third month on the lunar calendar, and the administration launched a coral week event on Saturday last week, with marine experts from the museum, Academia Sinica and the National Museum of Marine Biology and Aquarium sharing their experience.

“It cannot be denied that tourists visiting Kenting might be tempted by the idea of eating coral reef fish, but they must resist the idea. From another perspective, consumers have to exercise their choices wisely so they can always enjoy delicious seafood,” National Museum of Marine Science and Technology official Chen Li-shu (陳麗淑) said.

The guide divides seafood choices into three categories — “top picks,” “eat with caution” and “fish to avoid” — so consumers would be informed before making a choice, Chen said.

The government should strive toward achieving environmental sustainability by working with consumers and suppliers, because if conservation awareness increases among consumers, restaurants would naturally avoid serving endangered fish, while the government can educate restaurants about conservation, she said.

The price and supply of shark fin have decreased significantly following the campaigns urging consumers to stop eating shark fin, Chen added.

A restaurant owner, who wanted to be identified by his nickname “Hsiao Mai” (小麥), said there are fewer restaurants in Kenting selling coral reef fish, but local businesses would be willing to be part of the government’s awareness campaign and contribute to environmental sustainability.

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