In conjunction with World Oceans Day 2010 (8th June), WWF-Malaysia and the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) launched the Save Our Seafood (S.O.S.) Campaign.
The objective of the campaign is to raise awareness on the status of Malaysian fisheries, where in some parts of Malaysia our demersal fish stocks have declined by as much as 90%, and to promote sustainable seafood choices through Malaysia’s first sustainable seafood guide.
The pocket-sized, bilingual guide in English and Bahasa Malaysia provides an insight into the sustainability of the 50 most popular Malaysian seafood species. The guide uses a simple traffic light system of categorising the seafood species: Green (preferred or recommended eating choice) Yellow (eat only occasionally) and Red (avoid eating).
“The seafood guide empowers the seafood consumers and businesses to make informed decisions in choosing sustainable seafood, which means seafood that is caught and farmed responsibly and does not cause damage to our marine environment,” said Dr Loh Chi Leong, Executive Director of Malaysian Nature Society (MNS).
Malaysians are the biggest consumers of seafood in Southeast Asia with an average consumption of 1.4 billion kg yearly. Our demand for seafood has resulted in a rapid decline of our fish supply due to overfishing. A group of fisheries scientists have predicted that globally in another 40 years, we run the risk of not having any seafood to eat, if we continue to consume indiscriminately.
Therefore it is important for Malaysians to start thinking about our seafood consumption patterns and how each of us can play a role to conserve our marine resources for future generations.
A survey commissioned by WWF-Malaysia showed that only a quarter of Malaysian consumers are aware of the declining fish supply in our seas. However, more than 70% of Malaysians are willing to reduce seafood consumption if they are aware that fish stocks are declining.
“It is important for seafood consumers and businesses alike to know where our seafood comes from because some are sourced sustainably and some are not, due to different fisheries management regimes in different parts of the world. At present, we are taking some of our fish stocks out of the oceans faster than they can be replenished. If this scenario continues, we may eventually lose all of our fish along with other marine life,” said Dato’ Dr Dionysius Sharma, Executive Director/CEO of WWF-Malaysia.
“We hope that seafood lovers in Malaysia will re-evaluate and eventually change their consumption patterns by using this guide as a reference when ordering or purchasing seafood. I will also promote sustainable seafood in my future programmes,” added Datuk Chef Wan.
The seafood guide is just one of the starting points of our marine conservation work which aims to eventually improve fisheries management and trade, beginning from the oceans to the plate.
The Malaysian sustainable seafood guide can be downloaded for free at www.saveourseafood.my. It is also available free of charge at both MNS and WWF-Malaysia’s HQ offices in Kuala Lumpur and Petaling Jaya respectively and its branches, including Sabah and Sarawak, Little Penang Café outlets in Mid Valley, The Curve and KLCC and Eastin Hotel, PJ. Those interested to distribute the guide can also contact WWF-Malaysia or MNS.