Education

Parrot fish on the menu

By CCH

A few weeks ago, I commented on the need to be vigilant when shopping. I asked you, the reader, to ensure that the product you are buying is genuine and is correctly labled. Further, that you know whether it was previously frozen, frozen or is fresh. Caveat Emptor ( buyer beware). In previous posts, I have talked of the need to buy ‘responsibly sourced’ items and those in season. To really be conscious of the state of the ocean and ultimately, to be an educated buyer of seafood. If, as a consumer, you do ‘due diligence’ and keep your supplier honest, you can make a difference.

With the idea of one being an educated buyer, I would like to take the opportunity to discuss the little critter packaged above. In the process, I hope one will be able to see a clear example of what not to buy and question why a supermarket would want to sell this item in the first place.

The claim on the pack is this product is a Parrot fish fillet. It could be, I cannot tell from the fillet. I also cannot see any information as to where it comes from. However, this fish cannot be farmed so if it is a genuine parrot fish, it must have been wild caught. They are normally caught by commercial trapping and spear-fishing but only in small quantities. Some countries have banned their catching totally, but most have few or no restrictions. So my question is, if they are supplying this for retail, how did they catch the quantities?? I raise the issue as it is common practice in some places to catch reef fish by bombing/ dynamite and even cyanide poisoning.

Different species of the fish are found in different parts of the world – but the majority of the species are spread throughout the Indo-Pacific, or the tropical waters spreading westward from South America past Australia.

The fish is what is called ‘an harvester’. It is an essential fish for the health of coral reefs. They eat algae and dead coral and spend up to 90% of their day nibbling. In other words, they clean the reef. This is important because most of the reefs across the tropics are being smothered by algae because there are not enough parrot fish and other herbivores out there grazing.

So, my questions here are 1) is this really a parrot fish? And if it is, 2) how and where was it caught? Further, 3) Should one really be eating this fish when it is already in decline and its loss is a severe detriment to a valuable ecosystem? Just food for thought!!! Excuse the pun. Surely, we could be a little more responsible and not sell items like this. How do we get the supermarkets to behave more responsibly? For a start, don’t buy it!!

CCH 18062019

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