PARROTFISH ARE MORE IMPORTANT THAN OTHER REEF DENIZENS
Gregg Yan is the executive director of Best Alternatives, an environmental nonprofit group that promotes sustainable and equitable alternatives to various products and practices.
Manila Bulletin Publishing Corp
THE WILD SIDE
Let’s be clear: All sea creatures are equally important, being connected in ways that we’re only beginning to understand. Though cute and charismatic creatures like Whales, Dolphins, Sea Turtles, and large Fish are far easier for people to relate to, even the smallest plants and animals serve a greater purpose. Corals, Sponges, Clams and Barnacles for instance act as living filters, forever straining water of particulate matter. Sea Urchins and Cucumbers are effective grazers and scavengers. Even what we can’t see, microscopic free-floating algae, provide food for trillions of Fish while generating much of the oxygen you and I are breathing now. Eliminate one group and the system can change dramatically. And because all sea creatures are equally important, the solution to save the world’s Coral reefs isn’t to ban the capture and sale of a single Fish group. It’s to ramp up efforts to conserve the planet’s remaining Coral reefs by veering away from expensive and dirty fossil fuels which accelerate human-induced global warming, minimizing coastal development (particularly reclamation), avoiding single use plastics (just imagine how much extra plastic we’re using now for facemasks, face shields, takeout food… and Shopee or Lazada packages), minimizing coastal pollution and run-off from rivers, better-managing fisheries, shifting to more sustainable alternatives and empowering, instead of castigating coastal communities whose lives and livelihoods depend so much on the sea.