ADB etc Cyanide Fishing Impacts

Gregor Hodgson rcgregor at
Mon Jun 2 22:30:10 EDT 1997

$$ For Cyanide Fishing Damage Rehabilitation ADB etc

It would be interesting to know if coral list members believe that
rehabilitation is the best way to spend money on coral reef
conservation. Please post replies to the list.

There is a desperate need for good controlled scientific studies of
cyanide fishing impacts on coral reefs as it is normally practiced e.g.
under different water current regimes. I am unaware of well-controlled
scientific studies that demonstrate that cyanide fishing has killed
numerous whole reefs i.e. corals and all as has been widely reported in
the media. At the February ICRI meeting, Indonesian scientists reported
that many reefs in Eastern Indonesia were cleaned out of large target
species due to cyanide fishing, but that the corals were generally in
good condition. Although cyanide dumping has been reported to occur, it
would seem that there would be little incentive for a cyanide fisherman
to pour an uncontrolled dose of cyanide onto a reef and turn a US$10,000
live grouper into a US$500 dead one. How common is cyanide dumping?

If cyanide fishing as normally practiced, does minor damage to other
organims, and if it could be restricted to small to medium-sized fish,
then it is simply an alternative fishing method.

An efficient method of controlling cyanide fishing and preventing coral
reef damage is to control demand. There is a pressing need for studies
of the demand side of cyanide fishing e.g.:

1) What is the size preference for live fish of different species in
different regions of China?
<<Of 80 students in my ecology class, 5 ate live fish at Chinese New
Year and none ate one larger than 2 kg>>

2) What are the characteristics of people who prefer to eat fish larger
than 2 kg?
<<In HK, big fish seem to appear at e.g. business functions, not

3) What cultural (traditional and modern) factors are involved in the
consumption of large live fish?
<<Longevity -- is a big fish better?>>

4) What are the typical dishes that large live fish are cooked into?
<<Big fish are tough -- in HK usually end up as soup>>

3) What is the market size for live fish?
<<All over southern China -- many different preferences and prices RMB
338/lb (US50/lb) in China last week for a small grouper>>

4) What are the prospects for an educational campaign to diminish demand
for large live fish?

Perhaps some of the $$ for the cyanide fishing project could be devoted
to the study of the above questions and especially trial implementation
of #4 -- an educational campaign in HK and southern China -- "adopt a
Maori wrasse?"

Gregor Hodgson

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