Exploitation Part III

Jaime Baquero bd268 at freenet.carleton.ca
Sun Jul 30 17:11:24 EDT 1995

Strategies to solve the problem. 

Ocean Voice International and the Haribon Foundation for Conservation of 
Natural Resources, are working on Environmental Education and Sustainable 
Livelihoods in the Philippines. This project is funded by the EDSP (Envi- 
ronment and Development Support Program) through the Canadian Environmental 
Network by CIDA (Canadian International Development Agency). We are grateful 
to these organizations for their support of economically, socially and envi- 
ronmentally sustainable development. 

One of the components of this project is related to the development of the 
Federation of Aquarium Fish Collectors (PMP), which is looking for alterna- 
tive methods of marketing the healthy, net caught fish. To achieve this goal 
it was considered to evaluate the handling methods and holding facilities, 
that fishermen and exporters are actually applying. 

I'd like to share with all of you, the findings of my recent trip to the  

Importers as well as retailers and aquarium hobbyists buying ornamental fish 
from the Philippines and Indonesia are recording high mortality rates. In a 
previous article (Sea Wind, July-Sept 92), I underlined the fact that cyanide 
was not the only factor responsible for these high mortality rates. One of 
the most important factors is the physiological damage inflicted on the fish 
by fisherfolk and by exporters. 

(Mis)Handling Methods and Holding Facilities 

The ordeal of the fish starts when it is removed from the reef. But this is 
only the starts of its miseries.... Once ashore, there are no holding facili- 
ties and submerged cages are not widespread because of the lack of protected 
ares, the tides and theft. Thus the fish are dumped from the plastic bags in 
to a bucket with up to 30 fish at once. The fish are then transferred abruptly 
into bags filled with new water from the shore line. Depending on the species, 
they are bagged individually if they are expensive, or by pairs in smaller  
bags, or several in larger bags. The bagged fish remain on the floor or on 
wooden structures ususally 3-5 days before they're shipped ( in this case to 
Manila). During this time water from the bag is changed once a day. Expensive 
fish fish get two water changes a day. The water changes are always abrupt. 
Small inexpensive do not get water changes for 3-5 days. I observed large 
bags with, for example, more than 10 poisonous Lionfish per bag, 15 fragile 
Butterflyfish per bag and more than 70 Damselfish in the same bag. It is  
common to see fish dying from ammonia poisoning in the bags. 

 Once the fish are delivered to Manila (6 hrs from Masinloc in this case) 
to the exporter, the fish are screened to detect damaged fins, injuries or 
sickness. Such fish called rejects, are discared, sold for the local market 
and very seldom returned to the sea by the buyer or middleman. The accepted 
fish pass to the main system, with no acclimation process. The transfers are 
made abruptly. 

Now the fish are ready to be exported. There is no quarantine period. It was 
found that some exporters, not all, do not feed the fish that remain in their 
aquaria. When an order is placed, the fish are packed in shipping water, which 
could come from the Manila Bay, or, in the case of one exporter, as far away 
as 160 km from Manila. This water is poured into large pools, without filte- 
ring out the plankton or other kinds of material in suspension. 

Jaime Baquero. 

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