International chef Bobby Chinn promotes sustainable seafood in the Philippines
Every day, thousands of small fishing boats set out within this throbbing nursery of the seas, whose resources directly sustain the lives of more than 120 million people. However, unsustainable fishing methods have shattered coral reefs and depleted fish populations all over the region.
More than 85% of the reefs in the Coral Triangle – which spans the waters of the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste – are directly threatened by local human activities, substantially more than the global average of 60%. Asia’s growing population coupled with an insatiable appetite for dwindling delicacies like shark fin soup is placing extreme pressure on our seas.
Overfishing and illegal fishing are threatening coastal and marine environments, wiping out large populations of fish stocks and compromising people’s food security and livelihoods. Pacific Bluefin Tuna (Thunnus orientalis) stocks for example, are taking a nosedive. The International Scientific Committee for Tuna and Tuna-like Species in the North Pacific Ocean (ISC) says that the global population has shrunk by 96.4% compared to unfished levels.
To promote better alternatives and viable solutions that protect the region’s marine wealth, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Costa del Hamilo, Inc. (Hamilo Coast), plus international celebrity chef Bobby Chinn partnered to celebrate Coral Triangle Day in the Philippines on 9 June 2014.
“As seafood consumers, we all have a responsibility to ensure that the fish we eat comes from sustainable sources or were caught in ways that aren’t harmful to the marine environment. This helps conserve our food supply and the livelihoods of millions of people who depend on the ocean’s bounty,” said Chinn, a Vietnam-based chef, restaurateur, and television personality. He previously marked the Coral Triangle Day in Indonesia and Malaysia.
Now on its third year, the Coral Triangle Day is an annual open-sourced event celebrated in the countries belonging to the region every 9 June. The festivities are done in conjunction with World Oceans Day, which is celebrated every year on 8 June.
Set against the majestic blue waters and lush landscapes of Pico de Loro Cove in Nasugbu, Batangas, Chinn kicked off his cooking segment by cooking Yellowfin Tuna (Thunnus albacares) sourced by hand-line from Occidental Mindoro. Hand-line is a traditional and more sustainable way of catching tuna, several stocks of which are threatened in the Coral Triangle.
To promote local fisheries, Chinn prepared dishes from local fish sourced off the waters of Hamilo Coast.
Lastly, to raise awareness about the perils of shark finning, Chinn created a seared snapper head dish with dipping sauce, as an alternative to shark fin soup. About 73 million sharks are slaughtered each year for the lucrative shark fin trade. This high demand for shark fin soup, particularly in China and Hong Kong, threatens the health and balance of global marine ecosystems.
“The worldwide demand for tuna, live reef fish, and other marine products continues to grow – at a frightening environmental cost to the Coral Triangle. Through our partnership with Bobby Chinn and Hamilo Coast in celebrating Coral Triangle Day, we hope to emphasize the need to rehabilitate the Coral Triangle’s reefs from decades of damage and build a sustainable means of livelihood for fishermen,” says WWF-Philippines Vice President for Conservation Programs Joel Palma.
Concludes Costa del Hamilo, Inc. Senior Vice-President for Operations Rona Torres-Tan, “Preserving the Coral Triangle is a cause that is important to us because Hamilo Coast is located right at the entry of the Verde Island Passage, one of the most prolific areas of the Coral Triangle. As stewards of this one-of-a-kind location, we, along with our community of homeowners and club members, are committed to protecting the gifts of nature that Hamilo Coast has been blessed with, for years to come.” (30)
Note to Editors:
- The Coral Triangle is the world's epicenter of marine life abundance and diversity. This extraordinary expanse of ocean covers some 5.7 million square kilometers. However, its productivity is under threat. Unsustainable fishing, poorly-planned development, pollution, a growing population, and climate change impacts are all contributing to the degradation of the Coral Triangle. WWF develops sustainable solutions that will both benefit local communities and businesses and save one of the most diverse marine habitats on Earth.
- The Coral Triangle is home to 76% of the world’s known coral species, 37% of the world’s coral reef fish species, plus commercially-valuable species such as tuna, whales, dolphins, rays, sharks, including six of the world’s seven known species of marine turtles.
- WWF-Philippines and Costa del Hamilo have been partners for five years. Since building an alliance for sustainable ecotourism, the two have embarked on various sustainable and environmental initiatives like the declaration of select Hamilo Coast coves as marine protected areas, the deployment of Bantay Dagat units to protect the area from illegal fishermen.
For further information, please contact:
Mr. Paolo Mangahas
Communications Manager, WWF Coral Triangle Programme
Mr. Gregg Yan
Communications Manager, WWF-Philippines