Large numbers of threatened reef fish still traded

WWF 12 Mar 13;

The humphead wrasse, a tropical reef fish, is still suffering from illegal and unreported international trade despite being listed by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

Discussions held by governments meeting in Bangkok, Thailand outlined a number of ways to help curb this problem and maintain protection of this threatened fish.

“Regulating the trade throughout Asia aims to protect humphead wrasse from overfishing and encourages sustainable fishing which will ensure a future for this species.” said Dr Colman O Criodain, WWF`s Policy Analyst, International Wildlife Trade.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature highlighted during the meeting that wrasse are being traded online and suggested large numbers are being sold this way but are not reported so many more could be being fished illegally.

Another problem is that young humphead wrasse are being taken from the wild and placed in captivity until they are big enough to sell. If this ranching style was done sustainably it could supply the fish to the Asian market without impacting the wild populations but current methods are unsustainable.

Humphead wrasse was listed on Appendix II of the Convention in 2004 to regulate international trade. It is one of the most valuable fish in the live reef fish trade, and its rarity leads to higher demand and prices of up to UD$250-300/kg in China.

Although centred in Hong Kong, this trade has spread to southern China and other consumer regions, including Singapore. Of particular concern is that rapid economic growth in mainland China may further intensify the demand for humphead wrasse throughout the country.