Here are 3 reasons why we should immediately stop the consumption of parrotfish.
1. The first one was already mentioned. Parrotfish “discharge” up to 100 kg of white sand a year for every year of their lives. Larger parrotfish are like sand factories, producing upwards of a ton of sand per year. The University of Exeter found that parrotfish produced more than 85% of the new sand-grade sediment on the reefs in the Maldives. When we consider the impact over thousands of years, imagine the amount of beautiful white sand parrotfish can produce if they were allowed to live and not consumed. This is very important in countering beach erosion.
2. Parrotfish are also essential to the survival of coral as they act as ‘natural cleaners’ of parasites that grow on it. Without the help of the parrotfish the coral would simply die. According to a 2012 study, the loss of parrotfish disturbs the delicate balance of coral ecosystems and allows algae, on which they feed, to smother the reefs. The study also found that Caribbean corals have declined by more than 50 per cent since the 1970s and may disappear in the next 20 years as a direct result of the loss of parrotfish and sea urchins — the area’s two main grazers — and not primarily as a result of climate change, as is widely believed. The study further shows that some of the healthiest Caribbean coral reefs are those in areas where governments “have restricted or banned fishing practices that harm parrotfish, such as fish traps and spearfishing”. These include the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary in the northern Gulf of Mexico, Bermuda and Bonaire. In Belize, a voluntary ban on the fishing of parrotfish became national law when the government passed a new set of regulations (Fisheries Regulations 2009) to protect overfished species.
3. Last but not least, let us consider the economy. A 2015 study noted that the direct contribution of travel and tourism to GDP in Jamaica was JMD128.3bn (8.1% of total GDP) in 2014, and was forecast to rise by 4.7% in 2015, and to rise by 4.6% pa, from 2015-2025, to JMD211.2bn (11.6% of total GDP) in 2025. Another study describes the importance of coral reefs to the people and economy of Jamaica. It shows what some of us may not know: Coral reefs help to build and protect Jamaica’s beautiful white sand beaches, which attract tourists from around the world.