Heads up, goat raisers! Triple cross goats may provide a higher profit than other breeds
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Manila Bulletin Publishing Corp
States. “By 2002, it increased to about $486 million for Hong Kong and $810 million for the entire trade. Individual fish can sell for up to $180 per kilogram, depending on species, taste, texture, availability and time of year.” Dr. Yvonne Sadovy, a marine science professor at the University of Hong Kong, said the live fish trade is valued at about $1 billion. About 150,000 metric tons of live reef fish are traded annually, she pointed out. DESTRUCTIVE TO CORALS Catching live fish using cyanide is really not difficult. All the fisherman has to do is crush a couple of sodium cyanide tablets into a squeeze bottle of water, dive into the sea where coral reefs abound, look around for the fish that catch his fancy, and then squirt the toxic liquid into its face. As a result, the fish is stunned by the mixture but without killing it, thus making it easier to catch in a net or even by hand. It may be easier to catch reef fishes using cyanide, but there is a price to pay. “Cyanide is a deadly poison not only to people and fish, but also to other marine animals like corals,” says Dr. Rafael D. Guerrero, an academician with the National Academy of Science and Technology. Corals consist of small, colonial, plankton-eating invertebrate animals called polyps, which are anemone-like. Although corals are mistaken for non-living, they are live animals. They provide shelter for a variety of marine life like fish, lobsters, octopi, eels, and turtles. To catch elusive fish hiding in coral reefs, fishermen use cyanide, which is illegal. A study commissioned by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) in 1982 established that two applications of cyanide on coral reefs four months apart caused high coral polyp mortality. ANNIHILATED CORAL REEFS “Unlike blast fishing, which reduces corals into rubble,” deplores marine scientist Vaughan R. Pratt, “cyanide keeps coral structures intact, but dead.” The Philippines has around 26,000 square kilometers of coral reef area, the second largest in Southeast Asia. Some 500 species of stony corals are known to occur, 12 of which are considered endemic. Today, poor coral cover is found in 40 percent of the country’s reefs, while areas with excellent cover have steadily declined to less than 5 percent from 2000 to 2004. “Despite considerable improvements in coral reef management, the country’s coral reefs remain under threat,” said Dr. Theresa Mundita S. Lim, when she was still the head of the Biodiversity Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. Fifty percent of the fish exposed to sodium cyanide die in the reef. The ones caught and later recovered are transferred to clean water, but they are doomed to die within weeks or months because of the damage caused by the poison to their internal organs. Researchers estimate that more than a million kilograms of cyanide have been squirted onto Philippine reefs alone over the last half century. “(Cyanide fishing) is illegal, so people should just stop doing it,” says Dr. Arnel “AA” Yaptinchay, director of the Marine Wildlife Watch of the Philippines. “There may be short term gains now but we have to really think about the serious repercussions for the future generation. Remember this: no reef, no fish.” ACCIDENTAL DEATHS Corals, fish and other marine creatures are not the only collateral. There are reports that young men who have been paralyzed by the diving sickness called the bends. “Accidental deaths or paralysis due to the ‘bends’ are widespread and fishermen say the frequency of such accidents is increasing as they find themselves forced to go deeper and stay down longer to get fish after depleting the stocks in shallow waters,” said the Nature Conservancy report, Environmental, Economic and Social Implications of Live Coral Reef Food Fishery in Asia and Western Pacific. In 1993, a coastal community in the country reported that 30 of its 200 divers got the bends, and 10 died as a result. “Cyanide fishing is universally outlawed but still a significant problem,” said Dr. Elizabeth Wood, marine resource management and biodiversity conservation consultant of Britain’s Marine Conservation Society. IT MUST BE STOPPED Cinches suggested a strong enforcement of Section 88 of Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998. The law stated: “It shall be unlawful for any person to catch, take or gather or cause to be caught, taken or gathered, fish or any fishery species in the Philippines with the use of… poisonous substance such as sodium cyanide in the Philippine fishery areas, which will kill, stupefy, disable or render unconscious fish or fishery species.” “There is also a need to employ best regulated alternatives such as hand nets,” Cinches added. “Consumers need to start asking for traceability papers in restaurants so they know where their fish comes from.” Meanwhile, the Philippine government has stepped up enforcement of anti-cyanide fishing laws by establishing a network of cyanide detection laboratories, operated by IMA, that randomly sample fish exports at shipment points throughout the country and monitor all aspects of the trade. There is also a public awareness campaign in the media and public schools which help educate Filipinos about the value of coral reefs and the threats posed by cyanide and other destructive fishing practices. “Cyanide fishing has not ceased in the Philippines, but it has certainly been reduced as a result of these efforts,” said the Washington, D.C.-based World Resources Institute.