Prof. Yvonne Sadovy, from the School of Biological Sciences and Swire Institute of Marine Science at the University of Hong Kong (HKU), recently published a report in the academic journal Fish and Fisheries detailing the damaging appetite of diners for grouper.
The study was based on data accumulated over 20 years and assessed all 163 known grouper species. Of these, 20 species (12 percent) were identified as “Threatened” with extinction if current trends continue, with an additional 22 species considered “Near Threatened.”
Most of the threatened species are the darlings of seafood-restaurant diners, including high-fin grouper, red grouper, giant grouper and leopard coral trout.
“We as consumers don’t realize the problem because we see plenty of the fish in our restaurants and markets. But the situation is different in the sea,” said Sadovy.
A staggering 90 million grouper were caught globally in 2009 — mostly in Asia — to fuel the burgeoning seafood trade. Almost all the grouper were sold to Chinese markets, with one-fifth consumed in Hong Kong.
With the risk of a grouper population collapse on the horizon, consumers are urged to play their part in the active conservation of the species through abstinence. Said Sadovy: “If we are to enjoy wild reef fishes in the future, their populations must be managed, trade must be controlled to within biologically sustainable limits, and customers not only be prepared to pay more for such fish but also to eat them less often.”
Just visit montereybayaquarium.org/cr/seafoodwatch.aspx to help you make informed choices the next time you order seafood.