Malaysia: Be a responsible seafood consumer

Yuen MeiKeng The Star 10 Jun 13;

PETALING JAYA: The next time you go to a seafood restaurant, choose lala clams and salmon over soft-shelled crab and stingray.

This is because seafood such as the silver pomfret, the common stingray and soft-shelled crabs are from over-fished and unsustainable fisheries.

This was revealed in the Malaysia Sustainable Seafood Guide May 2013: Save Our Seafood (SOS) 2.0, launched yesterday by the World Wide Fund for Nature – Malaysia (WWF) and SOS ambassador and celebrity chef Bobby Chinn to commemorate Coral Triangle Day and World Oceans Week, reported Bernama.

The guide states that Malaysia is the biggest seafood consumer in South-East Asia, with one person consuming an average of 50.4kg of seafood a year.

“By 2048, scientists predict that there will be no seafood left if we do not eat responsibly,” it said.

WWF-Malaysia conservation di­­rector Dr Sundari Ramakrishna said that the guide aimed to raise awareness among the people about the current status of local fisheries.

Chinn said he was concerned with the dwindling number of fish every year and had tried to educate his customers when serving them sustainably-caught seafood.

“The number of fish is clearly declining, but I have also noticed that the size of fish being sold is also getting smaller,” he said in the Bernama report.

The guide groups seafood into three categories – “recommended”, “think twice” and “avoid”.

Those in the recommended list, namely seafood that is well managed and in sustainable stock, include green mussels, blood cockles, tilapia and pollock.

Among those in the “think twice” category – seafood at risk of being unsustainable – are sardines, belacan shrimp and anchovies.

Seafood to be avoided are sharks, common squid and sea cucumber.

To view and download the SOS 2.0 guide, log on to

Our Fish Stocks are in the Red: WWF-Malaysia’s New S.O.S Guide Reveals the Hard Truth
WWF 10 Jun 13;

9 June 2013, Kuala Lumpur: Will Malaysians continue to enjoy local seafood in the future? WWF-Malaysia’s new Save Our Seafood (S.O.S) guide tells a grim story. This updated version of the first guide paints a bleak picture of the state of fisheries in Malaysia. Between 1971 and 2007, the country has lost almost 92% of its fishery resources.

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 ( 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.