The National – Friday, December 17, 2010
THE Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) is appealing to coastal communities in PNG to exercise good fishing practices and help in conserving the country’s coral trout, which is rapidly declining with fears that the stock might disappear in the near future.
DEC media manager Robert Rage said the red coral trout was an endangered species as it was one of the most sought after fish in PNG with a market tag ranging between K30 and K50 in Port Moresby.
Rage added that though PNG did not have a catch-and-release policy as practised by the United Kingdom, USA, Ireland and Canada, it was hoped that Papua New Guinea would slowly catch up with this conservation practice to prevent over-harvesting of trout stocks to address the demands of population growth.
He said the concern by DEC was not just the threat to the species being reduced but also other consequences from over-fishing or destruction of reefs.
Rage said: “PNG is party to the Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI), a region covering all or part of the exclusive economic zones of six countries: Indonesia, Malaysia, PNG, Philippines, Solomon Islands, and Timor-Leste.
“Often referred to as the ‘Amazon of the seas’, the Coral Triangle has 76% of all known coral species, 37% of all known coral reef fish species, 53% of the world’s coral reefs, about 3,000 species of reef fish, the greatest extent of mangrove forests in the world, and serves as the spawning and juvenile growth areas for the world’s largest and most valuable tuna fishery,” Rage said.
“Because PNG or almost all CTI countries, apart from Australia, has no specific enforcement of fishing regulations, dynamite and cyanide are both regularly used.
“This equates to an even greater devastation to both the fish and the reefs that support them,” he added.
“As we draw to the close of 2010, the theme for biodiversity this year is, ‘Many species, one planet, one future’, let us manage ours with wisdom,” Rage said.