Humphead wrasse: coral reef fish gains trade protection at CITES
"Humphead wrasse is an increasingly popular luxury item in restaurants in Hong Kong and China, and the trade – both legal and illegal – has become unsustainable," said Clarus Chu of WWF. "In most areas that scientists have studied, populations are in decline – sometimes by up to 90 percent. Humphead wrasse grow slowly and are often caught as juveniles, before they’ve had a chance to reproduce, and could soon be lost from some areas. So this listing is crucial to protect the species from uncontrolled trade."
Adding humphead wrasse to Appendix II of CITES allows trade to continue, but requires importing and exporting countries to ensure that trade is sustainable and legal.
"Currently, national laws governing trade in humphead wrasse vary widely," said Anna Willock, Senior fisheries adviser with TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network of WWF and IUCN-The World Conservation Union. "Because most trade in the species is international, international trade protection is essential."
Humphead wrasse are patchily distributed in reefs across the Indo-Pacific region. The distinctive species, also known as the Napoleon wrasse, can live up to 30 years.
Adult wrasses are often electric blue in color and are the largest coral reef fish in the world, growing to more than two metres long and 190 kilos.
Wrasse are mainly caught live for the food trade, often with the use of cyanide, which threatens their coral reef habitat. The wrasse’s lips are especially sought-after as delicacies in upscale restaurants.
For more information:
WWF Species Programme,
Bangkok tel: +66 6563 7753,
Olivier van Bogaert,
WWF International’s Press Office,
Bangkok tel: +66 4089 2344,