US$10,000 Grouper Meal

Gregor Hodgson rcgregor at
Fri Nov 29 02:18:52 EST 1996

Here is a news report that sheds some light on the economics of cyanide and  
other forms of fishing around coral reefs. 
28 November, 1996 
South China Morning Post - Hong Kong 

A 230 kg grouper was netted by Indonesian fishermen and has been sold to a  
Hong Kong restaurant for US$10,256. "But when it arrived at Newton Court  
Seafood Restaurant, its size created a headache for managers and chefs. Our  
fish tanks are too small for the fish -- its three metres long, said  
restaurant manager Kwan Ping-chiu. We have asked an expert to choose an  
auspicious day for chopping up the grouper. And we'll hold a small ceremony  
before our chef wields his chopper, said Mr Kwan. 

The chef said the tail, skin and fins were considered most tasty when stewed  
with shark fin; the bones would provide a soup base and the flesh could be  
stir-fried. Within 24 hours of the grouper's arrival yesterday, the  
restaurant had received more than 20 reservations for the fish feast on  
Sunday. In April, a rare 250 kg grouper also caught by Indonesian fishermen  
was bought by a Sai Kung (HK) seafood stall." 

Comment: Many of us eat lots of fish. But with this kind of money involved --  
there is a relatively large incentive to catch every single large fish out  
there, and this could put a dent in overall stocks. 

Questions: Who can start an international educational campaign regarding the  
comparative reproductive advantage of large fish over small? Jim Bohnsack has  
a nice diagram of this. Can reef scientists band together to suggest that  
national fisheries agencies restrict catch at the top-end of fish sizes for  
some species? Please post comments/responses to the coral-list server. 

Gregor Hodgson, PhD 
Institute for Environmental Studies, Research Centre 
Hong Kong University of Science and Technology 
Clearwater Bay, Kowloon, HONG KONG 
e-mail: rcgregor at 
fax: (852) 2358-1582 
tel: (852) 2358-8568 

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