Seafood Guide for Sustainable Life Reef Fish Trade

by Mallika Naguran

Think twice about eating Atlantic salmon from Norway, it says, but go ahead to enjoy Pacific salmon from Alaska, United States. A handy pocket-sized takeaway seafood guide produced by WWF for the Hongkong market, and soon, Singapore lists marine animals that are safe to eat, under threat and endangered.

Coral fish Juveniles Humphead wrasse, Cheilinus undulatus in Hongkong market. Photo © Michèle DÉPRAZ.

Over consumption of seafood, particular in Asia, is stripping our seas of ecologically crucial fish species and marine biodiversity such as the humphead wrasse, high-finned grouper, leopard coral trout and more. "You can choose to eat the right type of seafood that's sustainably caught," says Dr Lida Pet-Soede, Coral Triangle Network Initiative Leader, WWF.

Public education has made some headway in Hongkong with more than 50 corporations supporting the initiative by ordering only sustainable fish sources for their banquets.

To help push this awareness in a big way in particular Singapore “a travel gateway to the Asia Pacific”, the WWF has launched a Singapore conservation fund starting with the inaugural Asia Panda Ball. WWF’s signature fund-raising event will be brought to Asia for the first time on Friday 21 November 2008 at the St Regis Singapore to be graced by Her Royal Highness Princess Laurentian of the Netherlands.  Funds raised will help WWF Singapore kickoff this sustainable live reef fish trade and Coral Triangle eco-tourism awareness.

Where have all the fishes gone? Photo © Jürgen FREUND / WWF-Canon

Both consumers and corporations will learn the importance of maintaining a healthy ecosystem in our coral reefs, in particular the Coral Triangle, an area spanning Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon

Coral Triangle © WWF

Islands, Fiji and Northern Australia, over 5.7 million square kilometres. It is home to 75 percent of all coral species known to science and attracts 3,000 fish species, six of the seven species of marine turtles, migrating whale sharks, manta rays and marine mammals including 22 species of dolphins (Source: WWF).

The booklet lists seafood types safe to eat; types to think twice before eating; and varieties to avoid touching it altogether, for gastronomic purposes at least (see below for full listing).

Wish to attend the Asia Panda Ball? Send an email to or visit

WWF SEAFOOD GUIDE(Hongkong 2007 Edition)

Recommended (Caught or farmed in an ecologically-friendly way. Fisheries well managed)

Vibrant ecosystems. ©Cat Holloway.

Species Name,  Origin

Pacific salmon,  Alaska, US

Sardine,  Portugal

Leopard coral trout, Australia

Sea urchin, S China Sea

Scallop,  China, Australia

Chilean sea bass, S Georgia, UK

Geoduck,  N America

Clam,  China

Black cod, N America

Squid, Global

Abalone,  China, Australia

Rock lobster, W Australia, E Australia

Oyster,  China

Think Twice (Some issues with fishing or farming method, fisheries management. Increased demand may affect sustainability.)

Yellowfin tuna. Photo © Ezequiel NAVÍO.

Species,  Origin

Atlantic salmon, Norway

Big eye, S China Sea

Silver pomfret, S China Sea

Rockfish, S China Sea

Longfin grouper, S China Sea

Golden threadfin bream,  S China Sea

Horsehead,  S China Sea

Squid,  S China Sea

Star snapper, Hongkong

Areolate grouper, Hongkong

Duskytail grouper,  Hongkong

Giant grouper, Hongkong

Three-banded sweetlip, Hongkong

Mangrove snapper, Hongkong

Pompano,  Hongkong

Yellowfin seabream, Hongkong

Tiger grouper,  SE Asia

Sardine, Thailand

Orange-spotted grouper, Thailand

Turbot,  China

Mud crab,  China

Yellow croaker, China

Ling,  New Zealand

Yellowfin tuna, Global

Avoid (Over exploited, caught or farmed in an ecologically unfriendly way and fisheries not well managed)

Species,   Origin

Humphead wrasse. © John E. RANDALL.

Bombay duck,   S China Sea

Hairtail,   S China Sea

Flathead,  S China Sea

Unicorn leather jacket,  S China Sea

Red crab,  S China Sea

Shrimp,   S China Sea, China

Horseshoe crab,  S China Sea

Cuttlefish,  S China Sea

King mackerel, S China Sea

Mantis shrimp,   S China Sea

High-finned grouper,   SE Asia

Squaretail coral trout,  SE Asia

Camouflage grouper, SE Asia

Leopard coral trout,    SE Asia

Humphead wrasse, SE Asia

Orange roughy, Global

Chilean sea bass,  Global

Swordfish,  Global

Bluefin tuna, Global

Caviar (Sturgeon), Global

Hongkong grouper, China

Abalone, S Africa

And of course, sharks. WWF explains that shark fisheries are unregulated and many populations overfished. As shark species are difficult to distinguish, it is best to avoid all shark products.

Photos by WWF.

Related articles in Gaia Discovery:

Dr Lida Pet-Soede on inventive conservation methods used by WWF.

Why biodiversity and ecosystems are important.

Malaysian ecodivers, Reef Watch.

Reef restoration using Biorock.