Wed | Aug 16, 2017

Rainforest invests more than $1m in parrot fish conservation project

Published:Monday | June 6, 2016 | 6:00 AM

Rainforest Seafoods Limited has signed a partnership valued at $1.25 million with the University of the West Indies Alligator Head Marine Lab (UWI AHML) to implement protective measures for the highly threatened reef fish population, including parrot fish, while training local fishermen in environmentally sustainable practices.

As the company gears up to observe World Oceans Day on Wednesday, Rainforest has also announced it is no longer participating in the importation, production and sale of parrot fish.

"At Rainforest, our operations have been guided by the highest environmental standards. We are constantly updating ourselves on developments that may threaten our marine ecosystems, both regionally and internationally," said Brian Jardim, CEO of Rainforest Seafoods.

"This is part of our ongoing effort to identify best practices that will both sustain the livelihood of our fishermen and protect the longevity of our marine resources."

Jardim further emphasised the importance of public awareness and collaboration in protecting local marine interests.

"The survival of parrot fish will not only be vital to the protection of our invaluable coral reefs, but will foster a healthier and more productive ecosystem for local fishermen," said Jardim.

PROTECTING CORAL REEFS

Building on the successes of their partnership with UWI AHML in the lionfish 'Eat Them to Beat Them' project of 2012, this new yearlong initiative will focus on implementing measures to protect the parrot fish based on its ecological importance for the protection of coral reefs.

The project, to be spearheaded by Dr Dayne Buddo, marine ecologist and lecturer at the UWI, comprises the installation and maintenance of two fish aggregating devices (FADs) in Portland. The FADs are used to attract fish farther from the shore, such as the mahimahi, tuna and jacks.

Through this initiative, local fishermen will be fully trained in the building and use of FADs, which will assist in the protection of parrot and other reef fish that reside closer to shore while assuring the sustained livelihood of thousands of artisanal fishermen who rely on the sea for their income.