Why We Need to Stop Eating Parrot Fish
Spearfishing has long been part of the waterman and waterwoman lifestyle, and one of the near-shore reef fish that are popular for spearing are parrot fish. These brilliant blue and green fish are pretty easy to shoot and make a nice meal, but they are also somewhat dangerous to consume, due to the high prevalence of ciguatera, which is a toxin that comes from eating the algae on the reefs. For this reason, it has long been suggested that people be quite careful when fishing for parrot fish, as ciguatera can make humans extremely sick.
As it turns out, there’s another reason to avoid shooting and eating parrot fish, and it once again has to do with the fact that they eat algae off the reef. I recently found a post from Nautical Solutions that brings attention to this issue, explaining that parrot fish spend up to 90 percent of their day eating algae and dead coral, effectively cleaning up the ocean and helping our reefs to thrive. They also poop out fine, white sand that ultimately line our shores—yes, parrot fish literally turn toxic, reef-killing algae into beautiful beaches! But parrot fish numbers are currently extremely depleted, to the point that they can no longer be fished sustainably. By catching and eating parrot fish, you are not only killing the fish, but also contributing to the death of the reefs that will not be able to survive without the algae-eating filter fish that we have grown accustomed to seeing swim beneath us as we surf.
For this reason, I’d like to encourage all of our fishermen and women out there to give parrot fish a bit of a break until their population has a chance to recover. There are lots of other fish out there to eat that aren’t currently depleted, so let’s focus on them instead of the parrot fish, which is essential to the health of our ocean. Or maybe take this opportunity to try out a vegetarian diet for a while! Either way, next time you see a parrot fish, thank it for keeping the ocean beautiful rather than shooting it!
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