Illegal trade of threatened reef fish

Humphead wrasse. Credit: © Robert Delfs / WWF-Canon Humphead wrasse. Credit: © Robert Delfs / WWF-Canon
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The valuable humphead wrasse is still being traded illegally, despite being listed by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), reports WWF.

At the CITES meeting, held in Bangkok, Thailand, it was suggested that large numbers of this tropical reef fish are being traded online and not reported, so many more could be being fished illegally. This trade is centred in Hong Kong, but has spread to southern China and other consumer regions, including Singapore.

During the meeting a number of ways to help curb this problem were discussed.

“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.

WWF says that another problem is that young humphead wrasse are being taken from the wild and placed in captivity until they are big enough to sell. The organisation says that 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 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.

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