Intergovernmental cooperation crucial for sustainable seafood in the Coral Triangle | WWF

Intergovernmental cooperation crucial for sustainable seafood in the Coral Triangle

Posted on 04 February 2013    
Packing of live reef fish for Hong Kong fish market Philippines
© Jürgen FREUND / WWF
Bangkok, Thailand – WWF commends the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC) for taking a lead role in convening a crucial intergovernmental meeting between the six governments of the Coral Triangle, to discuss regional cooperation for managing the live reef food fish trade—one of the most lucrative and yet environmentally-problematic industries in the region.

“We applaud this positive move of governments to institutionally come together to tackle common issues critical to the live fish trade in the Coral Triangle region, but we are especially buoyed by the decision of the meeting delegates to pursue the establishment of a regional intergovernmental forum to improve the management of the live reef fish trade,” said Dr. Geoffrey Muldoon, WWF Coral Triangle Global Initiative Strategy Leader.

The trade in live reef food fish in the Coral Triangle represents one of the biggest threats to coastal and marine environments, characterized by overfishing and illegal fishing practices and unsustainable mariculture that largely remain unaddressed on a regional scale.

“Having worked closely with Coral Triangle countries, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and other industry stakeholders over the last 3 years to promote the need for a regional forum, WWF is delighted to see the governments of the Coral Triangle embrace this initiative idea and agree to move forward,” added Dr. Muldoon.

“The establishment of this intergovernmental forum comes at a time when we see even more alarming issues coming out in the trade,” said Dr. Chumnarn Pongsri, Secretary General of SEAFDEC.

“Coral Triangle governments should use this forum to demonstrate their collective commitment to improve the management of the trade, and to stabilize the welfare of their shared ecosystems and resources for the benefit of the millions of people who depend on these for food and livelihood,” added Dr. Chumnarn.

The Coral Triangle, encompassing the seas of Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Solomon Islands, and Timor Leste, is one of the richest marine ecosystems on the planet, containing 37 per cent of the world’s coral reef fish species.

Reef fish are a highly valuable resource whose unsustainable trade is driven by a persistently rising demand for seafood, mainly in Hong Kong, mainland China. High value species such as Humphead wrasse is sold for as much as HK$250 per kilo in Hong Kong and more than US$500 per kilo in Beijing and Shanghai. The trade has been estimated to be worth around USD 800 million.

“It’s also crucial that through this regional forum, Coral Triangle governments reach out to their counterparts in market countries such as China and Hong Kong to gain their support in helping close the loop on illegal trade and tackle the issues in a whole-of-supply chain approach,” added Dr. Muldoon.

APEC leaders last year reaffirmed their commitment to enhancing cooperation to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and associated trade, improving capture fisheries management and sustainable aquaculture practices, and facilitating sustainable, open and fair trade in products of fisheries and aquaculture.

“This intergovernmental forum on live reef fish food trade presents itself as an effective platform to bring government commitments in this region to life” concluded Dr. Muldoon.

Editors note:
  • The Coral Triangle—the nursery of the seas—is the world’s center of marine life, encompassing around 6 million sq km of ocean across six countries in Asia-Pacific – Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Solomon Islands, and Timor-Leste.
  •  It is home to 76% of the world’s known coral species, 37% of the world’s coral reef fish species, and commercially-valuable species such as tuna, whales, dolphins, rays, sharks, including 6 of the world’s 7 known species of marine turtles.
  • The Coral Triangle directly sustains the lives of more than 120 million people and contains key spawning and nursery grounds for tuna. Its reef and coastal systems also underpin a growing tourism sector.
  • WWF is working with governments, local communities, businesses, and consumers to promote sustainable development in this region. For information on Coral Triangle go to:

For further information:

Paolo Mangahas, Communications Manager, WWF Coral Triangle Global Initiative, Email:

Geoffrey Muldoon, Strategy Leader, WWF Coral Triangle Global Initiative, Email:
Packing of live reef fish for Hong Kong fish market Philippines
© Jürgen FREUND / WWF Enlarge

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