Our Fish Stocks are in the Red: WWF-Malaysia’s New S.O.S Guide Reveals the Hard Truth
Compared to the first guide, which featured about 44% of the assessed species falling into the red list, the new S.O.S guide has an astounding 52% in the red list. The assessment covered about 100 commercially-important species in Malaysia, assessed using the international methodology developed jointly by WWF and North Sea Foundation.
This red alert brings a clear message on choosing seafood carefully. The consumption of food fish in Malaysia has increased by 150% since 1961 (FAO, 2013) and Malaysians’ reliance on fish as a major protein source has also increased.
The average Malaysian consumes about 52 kilograms of seafood per year with an expected increase of its consumption in 2020 to be at 1.68 billion kilograms (FAO, 2013).
More than 200,000 fishermen, fish farmers, processors, ice and boat-makers depend on this industry (valued at more than RM10 billion) for their livelihood. The inevitable crash of the fisheries could potentially cripple the nation’s economy and jeopardize the food security of locals.
“The message from this new S.O.S guide further stresses the need for urgent recovery measures for fisheries in Malaysia. We need drastic changes in the management regime to address key issues of unreliable fish stock data, by-catch reduction, impacts to marine ecosystem and habitats, and ineffective enforcement. While the Malaysian government has prioritized aquaculture investment in the 10th Malaysia Plan, WWF is concerned that aquaculture could be seen as a way to compensate for over-harvested fish stocks, and without clear guidelines and application of certification schemes such as the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC), the general public cannot be guaranteed that farmed fish they consume do not cause even more harm to the environment,” WWF-Malaysia’s Executive Director/CEO, Dato’ Dr Dionysius Sharma, said.
“Parallel to that endeavour is S.O.S 2.0 campaign’s objective to drive market transformation
toward sustainable seafood sourcing by business and industry players. We aim to garner commitments from retailers, hotels and restaurants to phase out red-listed seafood from their counters and menu, and support certified products,” added Dr Dionysius.
He said: “How, where and when is a fish caught or farmed? It is quite challenging for a consumer to track the source of their seafood, which is why certification schemes like Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) take the burden off the consumer with their traceability system. In order for our fisheries to shift toward this direction, there needs to be a call from consumers demanding for more MSC-/-ASC-certified local products. The first ASC-certified fish for Malaysia is the tilapia from Lake Temengor.
The S.O.S 2.0 guide was launched today in conjunction with Coral Triangle Day and World Oceans Week (3 June – 11 June). In addition, a new Public Service Announcement video made its debut at the event along with a new S.O.S website (www.saveourseafood.my) which will be more responsive and interactive for the public to learn about and participate in the campaign. Award-winning Celebrity Chef, Bobby Chinn, also made a special appearance at the launch to promote sustainable seafood. Guests were treated to his trademark recipes served with MSC-certified Alaskan Pollock and ASC-certified tilapia produced in Malaysia. The fish products were sponsored by Golden Fresh Sdn Bhd and Trapia Malaysia Sdn Bhd, respectively.
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WWF-Malaysia (World Wide Fund for Nature-Malaysia) was established in Malaysia in 1972. It currently runs more than 90 projects covering a diverse range of environmental conservation and protection work, from saving endangered species such as tigers and turtles, to protecting our highland forests, rivers and seas. The national conservation trust also undertakes environmental education and advocacy work to achieve its conservation goals. Its mission is to stop the degradation of the earth’s natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the nation’s biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption.
For latest news and media resources, visit http://www.wwf.org.my/media_and_information/media_centre/
For more information, please contact:
Nadiah Rosli, Peninsular Malaysia Seas Communications Officer, WWF-Malaysia
Tel: +603-78033772 ext 6433, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Yeoh Lin Lin, Head of Communications, WWF-Malaysia
Tel: +603-78033772 Email: email@example.com