Thomas Heeger, Christopher Joyce
Marine fish discussion.
Thomas Heeger, Christopher Joyce
Marine fish discussion.
NPR/NGS Radio Expeditions
26 Feb 2004
- Cebu Island
- 10.58079 124.02248
- SONY TCD-D8
- Sennheiser MKH 40
- Sennheiser MKH 30
Decoded MS stereo
Show: Radio Expeditions
Log of DAT #: 16
Engineer: Marty Kuricas
Date: February 2004
(0:06) MK: Ok this is tape slate for today, this is very, very hot for starters. Lets see its Thursday, February 26th, 1 o'clock in the afternoon, getting ready to go off and do interviews, this is MS Pair, Sonosax, low-cut filter out, Sony D-8 Recorder. Hong Kong ¿ Philippines, Radio Expeditions, winding down here, last day or two of interviews in Cebu, Cebu City.
(0:49) TAPE STOPS AND STARTS
(0:50) Background ambi, sounds like in a cab with English-speaking radio announcer, cars honk
(2:26) Background radio switches from dj speaking to music
(3:11) TAPE STOPS AND STARTS
(3:19) MK: Check one, check one ¿two, check one, two, three, four, Ok we are at Dr. Thomas Hegar (sp?), outside of Cebu and these Marina Fauna Inc.
(3:38) CJ: Aqua. And the name of this company is Aqua X?
(3:41) Woman: Before, now it is Marine Fauna Incorporation.
CJ: Ok, Marine Fauna Incorporation.
(3:45) Ambi ¿ people walking around, woman singing to herself, man speaking in English, selling fish
(4:19) CJ: So we're gonna take a little tour?
Man: Yeah, OK¿ So what we see here¿
CJ: When you start can you say who you are and what you do?
(4:26) Thomas Hagar: Yes, my name is Thomas Hagar and I'm the president of Marina Fauna Incorporated, which is a Philippine company and we started about two years ago with a German Partner, the Partnership Project, the so-called PPP project which means Private Public Partnership Project. That means, we got money from the government for training to highlight the development aspects in the trade for the entire Philippines and to set up this showcase facility. The goal of this was all to improve the quality of the fish in the marine aquarium trade. As you can see here, we don't keep stock of animals; actually it looks a little bit deserted. We have, we fill up the tanks, only when we have shipments and keep the fish about two or three days to acclimatize, to rest a little bit, before we ship them to Europe or to the US or to Canada.
(5:22) CJ: Now, tell me why a fish from a tropical reef, like an aquarium fish, needs to acclimate? What happens? A lot of people don't know about how fish survive, how they live. They think oh, its just a fish ¿ we put it in a plastic bag, we take it¿ so what?
(5:35) TH: Well the fish are coming from the reef, as you say, so they are just fully fed and they have the intestine and the stomach full of algae, or if they live a predatory life with other fish and the need to clean their intestines before you can ship them, otherwise they would excrete in their bags and that would decrease the water quality tremendously, they would even die. Because the fish is in the bag probably 40 - 50 hours, depends on the destination to which you are sending the fish.
(6:10) CJ: 50 or 40 hours coming here? Or from here to destination?
(6:13) TH: From the moment you put it in the bag, that means from here, to the final destination. When it reaches the airport, lets say Canada, then still the importer picks it up from the airport, takes it another two or three hours to the aquarium tank and starts slowly acclimatizing the fish there. Same in Germany, it's distributed mainly from Frankfurt up to Hamburg or Munich and even to Austria. This takes another 8 ¿ 10 hours, but oxygen is not a problem for the fish, its really the water quality as far as we've found out so far.
(6:42) CJ: Waste material. In the water.
(6:44) TH: Waster material, also clean water. At FCC here, we pump in the water, there's a blue pipe, and before that pipe, we have an intake filter, the water is sucked in coming up here into system one, these two long tanks, and then we have six tanks over here and a second system which you can shut down, which is in fact, shut down now.
(7:04) CJ: So how many in each one, these are basically long trenches you could call it made of cement, and each is divided by nets. Why is that? Are there different fish in each section?
(7:17) TH: That's right. There are fish which are fighting, and if they are biting each other¿ They feel very well, they are very alive in here. You know, they are not separated and just put in a plastic bag, we wait and just reoxygenate and change water -- no. We provide a little happy time for them, we put in stones where they can hide, and they are very alive I tell you. They are chasing each other and of course, if they bite the fins, bacteria might settle and the appearance would not be nice. That's why we have to separate them, especially Angelfish and others.
(7:48) Just stop for a second and the camera¿ Ambi of water running, TH and CJ talking
(8:08) TH: The water is running in a zig-zag pattern through the tanks and those who are, who like to be in water in stronger currents, we have them at the in flow, and those who need to rest in the central area are here close to the exit.
(8:25) CJ: And then, tell me again is there a special way that you get fish? It's not as though the divers go out and catch whatever they can catch and then bring it here. You, you determine what they catch, right?
(8:37) TH: Actually, now we ¿ the clients determine. We get the orders from the client, then we have a deadline, like one week ahead, we need the orders completely, then we encode it in the computer. Then we give the codes to the fisherfolks because they know that already, we train them on this. We give the codes to the fisher folks and the number of species or individuals we need and they try to catch as much as possible to fulfill the order.
(9:00) CJ: As much of that species?
(9:02) TH: Yes, which is ordered, lets say 100 are ordered, they try to get 100. Sometime they only get 80 or 70, but the client know that.
(9:10) CJ: I'm sorry to interrupt, but 100 individuals of one species or 100 different species?
(9:14) TH: No, no 100 individuals of one species.
(9:17) CJ: And some typical species that you often get from your clients are what?
(9:21) TH: Well we ship a lot of invertebrates actually. CJ: Really? TH: Well if you ask for fishes there will be Green Combs?? Damsel, Damselfishes, there will be Angels ¿ not 100 there will be less, but inverts sometimes we ship more than 100 like common crab or red crab or something like that. CJ: Shrimp? TH: Shrimps, toup ?? worms, easily 100. Because they fit in any almost reef tank, they're good with other animals, they filter, they're nice to observe ¿ that's why the clients demand those species a lot.
(9:53) CJ: How much of your business then is in fish and how much is invertebrates?
(9:57) TH: Inverts is picking up more and more I must say, and we are happy about that because we specialize in inverts. And there is also no way of overexploiting inverts, there are so many around you would not see that. With fishes, lets say Angelfishes, that's more. If there were an order of 50 Angelfishes, and you consider that there is every 50 meters an Angelfish at the reef, and 50 or 100 hour you can see how much of the coastline you need to search for the fishes and get them. So for inverts this is very different. I would say right now, we have 60% fish 40% inverts and its still changing. We started with 80% fish and 20% inverts
(10:38) CJ: And does that change? Are you making less because of that or more? Or the same?
(10:44) TH: I don't understand the question¿
(10:45) CJ: Is it just as profitable to be shipping more inverts than the fish themselves? Which makes more money?
(10:52) TH: I tell you a secret: it's the inverts. Why is that? Because usually you have less shipping water, the air freights is very expensive and the survival rate are much better than fish and if you go to an aquarium shop and buy something or you look around and you see a beautiful fish and you want to bring something home to your tank and you buy a crab or you buy a mollusk or a snail or something ¿ That's cheap, that is within 10 bucks or something. But to buy a fish 30, 50, 60 even 100 dollars if you look for a special one. And that's the difference. Same with a bookstore ¿ you go to a bookstore, you see a book you like, and you buy it for $10.00. But you think twice, three times should you buy a book for 50 dollars or for 70 dollars. You really think about that. But 10 dollars, aw that's yours. The same with the aquarium.
(11:36) CJ: And also, I think, for a lot of people who get into the marine, maybe they started with fresh water and they say, aw I like the marine fish and then they all die because its difficult to keep them. So its probably easier, for them -- after four or five die on them, and they've already lost $200 they probably say ok let me go for something easier.
(11:54) TH: That's true. The inverts are more hardy species in shipping and also in keeping in the reef tanks. And in fact those who are really into it, they say you should have inverts first to check the water chemistry and to run it in the system for a few months until the water chemistry is balanced and then you can start with all different species.
(12:17) CJ: What do you have to do to then meet the certification that MAC has set up? That you would not do ordinarily? There are what, 40-some 50-some exporters in the Philippines and 4 are approved by MAC.
(12:30) TH: Yes, we are also certified exporters and we run through an entire process of standards and trying to comply with those standards, lets say, just to give an example, it starts with picking up the fishes. The fishes should be in jars, not in plastic bags. They always have water ventilating through the jars. CJ ¿ No cyanide. MH ¿ No cyanide at all, that's one of the major principles. Not at all fish should be caught with cyanide. We also know that there are many species that can be caught easily by net, and there are many species, much in demand in the trade, that are difficult to catch. And how can we convince fisherfolks to do that? It is only working with a higher incentive system. If you pay the fisherman more than he puts in more effort to get the fish in the net and not just spraying in a hole and getting out the stupefied ¿ the paralyzed fish. Of course, it has to work this way. If a fisherman is trying for half an hour to catch a fish in the net and it doesn't work, and he's trying a second time and he spends one hour in the water and he gets a very low price and he could have caught about 10 or 15 with cyanide, well you know the answer what the fisherman will do. So he must get more money if he's catching it with an environmentally sound method. Like, a net.
(13:54) CJ: Is it difficult to convince them to do this ¿ to give up the cyanide and do the net? I mean it's a new method; maybe it's hard to learn? A net costs money. I mean has it been difficult to convince fishers to do this?
(14:08) TH: It is not easy, however one factor is money. It works very good because they are very poor, those people, and they depend on this. This is their lifeblood, their income. They have children; they send them to school, they have to pay water bills and electricity bills. CJ: Lots of children. TH: Yes, lots of children, it's a means of livelihood. If they see they make money this way, they know also about cyanide fishing ¿ they know that this is not good for the environment and if they would make the same money for the effort of catching fish with net, it would be fine for them. They'd do it. But if they'd earn considerably less money they would not do it.
(14:47) CJ: Well how much more money can they make from you, because you're MAC certified, how much more do you pay in order to get them to come on board, and then is it easy for you to pass that along to the client? The customer?
(14:59) TH: Well if you see the brackets, the most expensive is the airfreight. We ship a fish with a lid of water that is $6 for the importer. So if the fish costs 10 cents or 8 cents, doesn't matter as long as the fish is alive. So if they 100% arriving, one shipment, an import arrives with 100% fish... CJ: Alive TH: Not yet, 100% fish as an example, 99% are alive upon arrival, 98% the next day, and so on and so on. They are dying in the aquarium because they were caught with cyanide. It's not viable for them. Even if he sells 50% of the arrival in two days in the aquarium in Germany or in the U.S. because the clients are coming back they say: ¿That was bad stock last time, my fish died.¿ ¿Well maybe you didn't not keep it right.¿ ¿No I'm in the trade already, I've been keeping an aquarium for 20 years and I know this should be surviving this fish so maybe it's the quality.¿ And they see if they get a shipment where its completely cyanide free. There are DOAs on arrival, when the import comes in and they unpack the fishes, because death is fact of life and all the fishes are dying. And the transport is some stress, but we are trying to do it and maximize that the quality is good. And the next day, no more dead fish, the day after no more dead fish, and he sells it to the client, and the client comes back and says: this is beautiful. They show nice behavior, they are healthy, they are not starved. This is beautiful and that's what they want.
(16:31) CJ: And so the retailer can charge a little more for that
(16:34) TH: And that's what they do. They tell this is MAC certified fish from a MAC certified collection area through the hands of a MAC certified exporter into the hands of a MAC certified importer, who's also teaching the client, this fish you can put with another fish and there's some help if the client doesn't know what to feed and they're really coaching them a little bit. And that's very nice.
(16:57) CJ: And at this end you may pay instead of 5 pesos you may pay 8 pesos or 10 pesos instead of ¿ What's the mark up? How much more do you pay the fisher?
(17:06) TH: Double to three times the price.
(17:08) CJ: Two to three times the price. And at this end it's so low that that's almost nothing for you. TH: Yes. CJ: And so you pass on an extra, so the middleman is still making plenty of money and the retailer is still making plenty of money. TH: Precisely. CJ: Infact, the retailer probably doesn't have to change his price at all. TH: Yes.
CJ: Ok, what else should we know?
(17:34) TH: Hm, what else. Well I would like to say something about the water quality. You see that we are pumping in the water and it runs through about 15 cubic per hour, and we don't put any medication at any time to the fish. There is no sedative in the packing water, we just use the same water here that is pumped in as packing water and cleared with UV to kill any germs and cool it a little bit down when we put the fish in the bag, to 26/27 degrees. And the clients say this is beautiful because the water is very clear when we get the fish, it is not yellow, its ¿ no antibiotics in there, they can see that already through the water quality. The fish is less exposed to stress. We have a lot of stress here, we have the transportation from the collection site, the collecting itself is stressful. CJ: I know how stressful it is just to drive here. TH: Yeah, and you're not even a fish. CJ: Yes well, half and half my wife says sometimes I remind her of a fish.
(18:31) CJ: So far four exporters are certified. TH: Yes. CJ: What does it take to get the rest? Is there reluctance?
(18:41) TH: Well it's a lot of paperwork. Those people have been in the trade for also 20 years or longer, probably it was a family business before and they have taken it over and it's the same attitude: We know how to run this. We have our connections; we have our clients and it works. We don't need that because we are more competitive if we have lower prices and we don't pay more to the fisher folks. We think our fish is healthy, and this will change slowly. Those people do not go to the collection sites. We do that we really know who is catching our fish. And in fact, MAC is running a back tracking system so if you buy a fish from a certified importer, running through the certified chain ¿ collector, exporter, importer ¿ you are able to trace back the fish. When was the fish caught, at what location by what collector. Now this is really improving, especially if you get the feedback. We also get the feedback from the clients: This was very good and there is problem with another fish and we found out that the fishes that were collected so far from the collection site were too close to a live food fish cage. And the food fishes also very helpful very alive, tried to escape and hit their mouth several times so they were infected with bacteria. And suddenly the other fish showed up some bacteria. And we got it from the client who said hey ¿ something is wrong with that fish, that species, where is it coming from? And we traced back, also and we went there and checked the cage out and immediately found the solution. This is it. And it was moved further away ¿ no more problem.
(20:21) CJ: Let me ask you away from aquarium fish necessarily, and as a marine biologist who knows this area, who knows the reef here in south ¿east asia, and a diver, how does the aquarium trade and also the live fish trade, the way it exists now, how is it impacting and effecting the reefs? Is there a way to do this that's not going to suck all the fish out of the reefs?
(20:49) TH: Well that's a very, very good question and it really hits the target. While MAC has the first time a certain collection site¿
CJ: I'm sorry. They move sites because children have arrived and their sound is now in the background
(21:07) TH: Well that's a very important question because it really hits the target, a lot of times the live food fish, the live aquarium fish trade was accused to lose a lot during the export ¿ the stress of the fish many arriving dead, and it's just exploiting because they will be throw away and the demand is there, they just get them in again and throw away the dead ones and don't mind the dead ones so most of the Angelfishes will be gone, the most beautiful fish will be gone and we'll get an imbalance in the reef. Actually, that's a fact: The Philippines only 1% of the reefs is used for aquarium fish, but 99% is used for food fish.
(21:45) CJ: The live food fish export trade, or for the local people?
(21:48) TH: Both. Both. So if you have fishermen going into the aquarium trade, and the aquarium trade and the food fish trade is hardly overlapping, there are very very few species where it is overlapping because the aquarium trade prefers small fish to see them growing in the aquarium and the food fish ¿ big fish to have something on the plate. Clear. So there is very few overlap there. If you get some fishermen from the pressure going for food fish, either for own consumption either for export into aquarium fishing, we actually get more balance in the reefs because they go for species that are not targeted by the food fish trade. And that means we get less pressure here and they make a livelihood with something else. And it's very nice ¿ it's a good thing for the reefs. It sounds for conservationists, they might say: ah, what are you telling me here? But this is really a point. We get less pressure on the food fish trade if we switch some fisher folks and pay them good, high incentives for aquarium fish.
(22:48) CJ: Especially if, I mean they also use cyanide to get the food fish, yah? The live¿like the giant Grouper. TH: Precisely. CJ: And if they switch to aquarium fish, especially certified aquarium fish¿ TH: Yes, net fishing. CJ: where they do not use cyanide, so that means less cyanide fishing? TH: Absolutely. CJ: And less dynamite fishing? TH: Also, yes you can get dynamite fishers too. CJ: Because you don't dynamite fish for aquarium fish?
(23:10) TH: No, not for aquarium and not for live food trade. This is for own consumption. You just try to get anything. Basically in the long run, you need a change in the concept. If you look at what the farmer is doing, he's preparing the soil, he's planting, he's irrigating, he's taking care of parasites and then he's harvesting. And then preparing the soil again. What is the fisherman doing? He's only throwing out his net and getting it. He's not preparing the coastal area for something. So if we look into sea ranging, that could be a big chance for the reef still. We could have more productivity than we are using now, much more.
(23:45) CJ: Are there some, either fish or inverts that you will simply not take anymore because they do not survive well in the aquarium. Because they don't survive the journey?
(23:57) TH: Absolutely, absolutely. Sea slugs are specialized feeders for example. They go for sponges or the go for gogonarians ?? or special polyps and this is hard to survive in the aquarium. Even if they are colorful and we are asked by clients: why don't you have these, everybody has this on the list? And I say, we either can't get it because its caught with cyanide or we don't sell it because they hardly survive in the aquarium, they are specialized feeders.
(24:30) MK: OK this is ambiance at Marine Fauna for the interview with Thomas Hegar. M/S Pair.
(24:41) Sound of muffled talking (men) and water circulating.
(27:37) CJ: Ok end of ambiance ¿ Tape stops and starts
(27:54) CJ: And so you say sometimes that you put fish back in the ocean. What are those circumstances? What you get fish in and then you can't sell them?
(28:04) TH: No either its oversized or undersized. Most of the fish we pick up ourselves, but sometimes it's delivered. And then you don't have the choice. We just chose here and release those who are oversized, undersized or show any damage because they have good chances to regenerate in the open sea. Much better than the aquarium.
(28:26) CJ: What's the most difficult thing about this business?
(28:29) TH: The most difficult thing? To please the clients. CJ: To please the clients? TH: To please the clients about the fish, yes. CJ: Really? Are they difficult? Picky?
(28:38) TH: Depends where you go. In Europe, especially Germany, it's hard to please the clients. They would say: I did not order that fish. CJ: Well we all know Germans, you know. TH: Yeah that's why. They can be critical. CJ: Austrians are worse. TH: Austrians are worse? You have experience with that?
(28:54) TH: In the US it's easier. They say, ah just send us, we would like to see how it is and then we accept the fish. That's fine.
(29:02) CJ: What about making the Philippine authority happy?
(29:06) TH: Well you have to comply with the laws and regulations. And we do, fully. We're not shipping endangered species, we're not touching corals, we're not touching soft corals. Giant clams. We always ask all around the world if we can ship giant clams because they are beautifully colored here. But we cannot because it is banned by law and we comply fully.
(29:28) CJ: And the Philippines has some fairly strict rules. I mean you can't export coral, true? Coral is a big part of the trade. TH: It is a big part of the trade. CJ: You can't export coral. You cannot export, starting in April, seahorses. Anything in appendix 2.
TH: Seahorses you are allowed to export.
CJ: Until? But its now listed on appendix 2 of societies.
(29:48) TH: That's right.
CJ: And the word I get is that the government is now saying no appendix 2. You hear this? TH: Yeah. CJ: So what happens to the seahorse business?
(29:56) TH: Right now its not an issue yet and we'll wait until the government comes up with a regulation for that. While we were regarding the stony corals, we were running a coral farm and trained fishermen to fragment corals. Not to take entire colonies from the wild, only fragment so the mother colony or donor colony was still growing back to the original structure, the original symmetry and the fragments were placed on stones and grown out in a nursery for about 6 or 8 weeks and then they got attached already to the substrate and then we put them out further to the reef to rehabilitate the reef. About two fragments per square meter and this was beautiful to observe that the fragments provide physical protections of the substrate under and mollusks come in, small crabs come in small fishes come in and also other coral larvae come in. And we get the beautiful ___? effect of a nice rehabilitating self, rehabilitating after this initial planting, its not planting its animaling actually, of placing the corals there, we get a self-rehabilitating effect of the reef. And this could be used for the trade. Because where does the money come from for something like that? And I had a proposal for this: how to make it economically viable and the fisher folks are doing that. If scientists are doing that its too expensive, but if the fisher folks are doing that they shift from dynamite fishing, from cyanide fishing and do something that is still related to the sea because they have been for centuries, they have been going out to the sea. He was going out with his father, with his grandfather, so they really like to go out and work at sea and diving. This is still related to that. They like it very much ¿ that is our experience at the coral farm. And they make good money with that. Especially if a part of those corals could be exported, only fragmented ones, could be exported. And money is flowing back. Lets say for each coral exported, for each fragment $1. And this could pay for the reef rehabilitation in the Philippines. I think its still a beautiful concept. Everybody would buy those corals coming form coral farming because they know they are helping to rehabilitate destroyed reefs in the Philippines. But the government is still strict. Maybe in a few years there will be some changes.
(32:08) MK: Chris? I can't stand like this anymore.
They move positions. And tease MK about lifting weights. Then they talk about good beer. ¿ Importing it for pregnant women.
(32:58) CJ: You were an academic for a while; you have a PhD in Marine Biology. Why do you do this instead? Is this more fun? Or more interesting than doing academic biology?
(33: 10) TH: Well you know how it is with jobs ¿ even if you're good at your job its not easy to get one. And you get projects for 2 years, for 3 years, for 4 years¿the family is coming with you. Traveling to another country, moving then pack everything together, go back look for another job, and I thought this is a nice business opportunity and I can input what I know from the marine bio side. It's not switching the job actually, I can use everything I learned, and I'm still winning.
CJ: And make more money.
(33:38) TH: You can make a living I think.
(33:41) CJ: But you came here originally as an academic?
(33:45) TH: Yes, but then I went back after this assignment was over, after six years. I was staying with UC San Carlos University, Marine Bio for six years from 1994-6000. That was the time we did the coral farm project, we did some project with the fisher folks, fish trap project. Also to shift them from destructive fishing technology to environmentally sound technology.
CJ: Too much wind? MK: I don't think so.
(34:15) CJ: So how long have you been running this business?
(34:18) TH: This has been for two years now.
(34:20) CJ: Just two years?
TH: Yeah. Not even two years.
CJ: Really. Before that you were at San Carlos?
(34:25) TH: Yeah. What we set this up from the rocks here. CJ: Did you build this? TH: Yeah. CJ: It's beautiful.
(34:31) TH: Well I did not build it, but it was idea how to compartmentalize where the office will be, the packing area. And things like that
CJ: And do you live here as well?
CJ: Nice view
TH: Even the reef is nice. To go down as a night dive you see something new. Beautiful.
They continue to discuss the area.
(35:22) CJ: Does the MAC certification work?
(35:25) TH: Well I think the Marine Aquarium Council approach is holistic, that's very important. You have it the first time from the collectors through the exporters and the importers to improve the quality on the entire chain of the trade. And it's not only how you tell them to improve the water quality or how you need to do net catching, them it's the entire chain of custody, whenever the fish are under artificial conditions the standards cover it all, and this is very nice. I think it has a good future. There are still some loopholes. For example, we don't know how many species, individuals of one species, can be caught in a certain area. We don't know that. There still needs to be some baseline research, just not to over exploit it ¿ just to have it sustainable. That is something we need to do in the future. MAC needs to do in the future.
(36:15) CJ: Ok. Good.
(36:26) MK: OK first I'm gonna get ambiance from the first part of that interview as we move down closer to the water and they were standing at the railing and I was leaning backwards over the railing. And this will be ambiance from that little site as we move a couple of feet further away then and Ill get that next. Ambiance.
(36:50) Ambiance ¿ sound of water and wind.
(38:09) MK: OK this is a retake on that ambiance. I realized my mic wasn't quite in the right spot. This will be better starting now.
(38:16) Ambiance begins again ¿ More sounds of waves, water a little clearer than previously.
(39:58) MK: OK that's the end of the ambiance from leaning out over the railing and then here comes ambiance from when we moved a few feet away. Right here, starting now.
(40:09) Background ambi ¿ stronger sound of water lapping and gurgling
(42:10) MK: OK end of ambiance. OK now we're just gonna get some various sound from around the tanks here. Basically water in various configurations. Water being splashed form a pipe or being sucked from a pipe, or whatever, so here we go.
(42:33) Sound of water churning and splashing
(43:30) Sound of water shooting out of something in spurts
(44:04) Sound of water pouring out ¿ sounds like a faucet of some sort ¿ like filling up a bathtub.
(44:35) Water being paddled and splashed ¿ rhythmically churned
(45:10) MK: OK now walking down to the steps to the edge of the sea here. We'll get us some waves lapping.
(45:27) Waves lapping against the shore
(47:54) MK: Ok moving back further for a different perspective. Same waves.
(48:00) Chugging in background
(48:04) MK: I think I'll can that. You can still hear the pumping in the background.
(48:10) TAPE STOPS AND STARTS
(48:14) MK: But on second thought, maybe I should have some of this pumping noise. I assume that's what this is. It's covered by a hatch, I can't really see what's in there but it sounds like some sort of pumping for the filtration system. So here's a little of that.
(48:37) Pumping ambi with water sounds in background
(49:29) MK: And a little bit closer
(49:33) Pumping ambi, a bit louder ¿ less noticeable water sounds
(50:01) MK: And that should be enough of that
(50:03) TAPE STOPS AND STARTS
(50:10) CJ: Just start by telling us what your name is and you don't have to tell us all the things you do cause I know you do a lot of them¿ Man: Yeah. CJ: But just tell us about your WWF affiliation.
(51:19) Mondro: Yeah I'm Mondro Mehro I'm with the World Wildlife Foundation here in the Philippines and our organization is also called locally _______? Or KKP.
(50:32) CJ: Ok. So you we should talk about what WWF is doing with these certification program. This is not the same as the MAC certification program; this is a different kind of thing ¿ coral reef. So tell me about that.
(50:46) MM: Actually for certification we are doing also like a similar process. CJ: Similar to MAC? MM: Similar to MAC. This is also like the goal is really promotion of sustainable fishing practices, sustainable fisheries. And but we follow the standards and criteria that have been developed by the Marine Stewardship Council.
(51:14) CJ: And the Marine Stewardship Council is?
(51:16) MM: The Marine Stewardship Council is also like MAC, an NGO but this was a product of a partnership between Unilever? and World Wildlife Fund to set also like standards and criteria for fisheries, but it is more for food.
(51:38) CJ: And its not just coral reef fisheries, but all fisheries?
(51:41) MM: Yes its all fisheries, ok. But here in the Philippines we are ¿ we take note that the Philippines is a developing country and since the MSC program has been set up most of the, if not all of the fisheries that have been certified, come from developed, or first world countries. The Philippines is now one of the countries that is now trying to push through with the certification. And the species that we are working on, or the fisheries that we are working on is the Blue Crab fisheries.
(52:23) CJ: So its not all fisheries, just the crab fisheries that are getting certification?
(52:30) MM: Yes, no .. Initially what we did was make a survey of all commercial fisheries or naturally commercial fisheries, meaning fisheries in the Philippines like Tuna, we also included the live food fish. CJ: Life reef fish? MM: Live reef fish, ok but in the criteria that we followed, the model that was set up by WWF/US? we more or less zeroed in on the blue crab fish areas as those that will have higher potential in terms of certification.
(53:09) CJ: In order to be certified, is it a community or is it a whole region, like Visaysis ? Or is it the whole nation? How does this work?
(53:18) MM: Well here what we are working on is that the fisheries of a certain limited area, the blue crab fish area say for example, a certain area within the Visayan Sea. Now we are working in Northern Gamora (sp?) Straight. This is in Central Philippines. This is also very close here to Cebu. And what we are doing there is working with four communities. These are predominately blue crab fishing communities, and we hope that we will be able to ... right now we are like the MAC. We are also working with the communities to raise their awareness in terms of the need for a sustainable fishing practices. CJ: Which are, name these for me. MM: Using environmental friendly gears, now that they are using crab pots and also they are using gil nets. But we have found out in our studies that gil nets have some environmental impacts. CJ: Like what? MM: It has more bicatch? It could touch other species which may also have negative impacts in terms of marine biodiversity. So because they catch juvenal sharks, they can catch other shells and also different crab species which are not commercially used. So now we are trying to work with the community to empower them for research management. So also to shift in terms of the gears they are using.
(55:07) CJ: And what's an acceptable gear for Blue Crab.
(55:09) MM: For Blue Crab it's more crab pots. Okay. And also right now we have achieved a working with the local government, in terms of policy, we have more or less like, uhh, convinced the local governments to adopt like a legislative measure. Like a control mechanism. They have passed a provincial ordinance ¿ we call the blue crab provincial ordinance ¿ and this like set size limits in terms of the catching of blue crabs. And also like setting up a ban or prohibition in terms of the harvesting of graved? or obiborus? The ones that have eggs. Ok so something like that. So here in the field crablettes are very much in demand. CJ: Crab Leggs? MM: Crablettes ¿ the very small crab. CJ: What for? MM: They make into crispy crablettes. They deep-fry it so when you go to a restaurant or Karaoke bar, this is one of the delicacies that is being served. Small crabs and they deep fry it into crispy like crackers.
(56:26) CJ: This is when they're molting? When they're soft shells?
(56:29) MM: No. Not really soft shells, regardless, because soft shells they do not become crispy. More the hard shell.
CJ: This sounds difficult to eat.
(56:42) MM: Oh yeah but Philippinos you know have some peculiar eating so they just simply eating and drinking it with beer. CJ: Ballut? MM: Ballut, yeah. Or they call it sum suman or palluntin? You drink beer and you use it as your CJ: Peanuts. MM: Peanuts or¿ MK: Popcorn. MM: Popcorn or the other one.. Lays something
(57:13) CJ: Dunno but it's a snack food.
(57:15) MM: Yes instead of that they use crab ¿ crispy crab legs.
(57:19) CJ: So you're trying to stop that.
(57:21) MM: Yes we are trying to stop that but the ordinances has already been passed. The next challenge of course, will be how this will be implemented.
(57:31) CJ: So this certification program. Is this something that you're planning to do or you've begun? How far into it are you?
(57:41) MM: Well this has been started in 2000 about 3 years ago and in terms of community work, we have already made a lot of success.
(57:54) CJ: Well how do you measure it?
(57:56) MM: We have 4 communities now and very soon we will be expanding to other blue crab fishing communities. Because we believe if we only focus on these four, the fisheries will not also be able to pass through certification, because we might be able to have a well managed fishery in these four contiguous communities, but the threat sometimes comes from other communities. And one of the things that I also did was to do a genetic study of the Blue Crabs in the Vasine ? Sea. This is to determine what management unit will be appropriate. Because in our initial studies, we suspected that the Blue Crab population in the Giumar ? Strait, where we originally started this certification extends to the Vasine Sea. So for any management to work you have to be able to delineate the stock up to where it is the population.
(58:59) CJ: Sure, but these don't migrate do they?
(59:01) MM: They migrate during their larva stages; yes they float with the current. We ?? a big basin, surrounded by deep sea, and we assume that the blue crabs in the Vasine Sea is just one populaton.
(59:22) CJ: What's in it for the community. How do you convince them its worth the trouble to go through all the paperwork? And change their practices?
(59:29) MM: Well, what is no¿from this process, we feel that this is like using market forces like MAC, ok so, if this passes through a certification, the eco-labeling thing, the market has to be willing to more or less pay a premium for certified crabs or crab meat or something, okay? So the main market of blue crab meet in the Philippines is the United States. So I think the United States is one country who has been very receptive to the idea of eco-labeling. And perhaps also willing, the retailers, the consumers in the receiving market are willing to pay a premium price
CJ: Pay a premium price ¿ we'll pick it up there.
(1:00:39) MM: So the consumers are willing to pay a premium price for so we can insure, like the MAC process that blue crabs are harvested in a sustainable manner and using environmentally friendly techniques. And there is a management, and that is why we are working with the community its because we would like to prepare the research management for their fisheries.
(1:01:07) CJ: Who would be in charge of labeling the final product? If for example the crab goes ¿ its picked and goes into a can and then goes to the United States, I presume they're not sent alive, but are sent in cans. They would get a label that would say? MSC approved?
(1:01:32) MM: There is like an MSC approved label. However, the process is that when our fishery for example, we feel is already prepared for certification, so we will invite an expert. And we call that the pre-assessment stage. And the expert comes in and evaluates the fisheries in terms of its impact on the eco-system, the managed system that is in place, and perhaps the environmental impacts of the fishery and how much the people had been really serious about managing their own fishery and also after this assessment, the pre-assessment the fishery has passed the free assessment so it will now go to a final assessment stage. So then the final assessment will say that the fishery has passed the criteria of standards that it the time that normally it will be in place
(1:02:31) CJ: Let me stop you for just a second. Who puts the label on the can? MM-It is the MSC. CJ-That's the company, I mean who makes, who sells crab meat in the US? MM-Phillips Seafoods, this is the major exporter. CJ-Importer. MM-Here they are like an exporter, but it's also being sold to their Phillips Seafoods subsidiary, their main Phillips Seafood co. there, I think they are based in Maryland. So anyway it is through this whole evaluation b/c this independent assessors will now communicate to the MSC that fishery is already to be certified, but the problem that we have here in the Philippines is that the criteria and standards that have been made by the MSC are stringent, very stringent. CJ-What one about them is too difficult?
(1:03:41) MM: Well, too difficult is one is for example we should be able to have a long hist of data to prove how much catch per unit of effort has been done in the fisheries and that is one of the probs we have. We do not have, we cannot trace the fisheries several years back. In other words there is no system of what MAC is doing now, a recording system. CJ-By the way, just define per unit of effort. MM-We would be able to show that every fisherman per hour that he is catching fish how much crab does he get. CJ-Per hour of effort. MM-Ya, per hour of effort, or perhaps per day of effort. CJ-But why do they need to know that? MM-B/c we need to know how much catch, what is the pressure on the resource. CJ-So for example in one region he's catching a lot in one hour then there's a lot of pressure on the resource? MM-Ya, and also how many fishermen are there. Those are some of the things we also have to really determine. And also I did, I also now have done a study of the re?? Sea, so that we also have baseline info. Our prob now is there is no baseline info to start. CJ-So how far away is the day now where you actually start seeing cans of crab meat in the US with MSC certification. MM-In number of yrs I still do not know when that will happen, but hopefully maybe in the next 2-3 yrs. B/c now I have communicated with esp. the ones that are in charge with fisheries program to invite pre-assessment. And the problem also here in pre-assessment is that it should be the fishery that should foot the bill, but the pre-assessment is expensive, so I'm asking if that can be subsidized by WWF so that we can invite an expert to evaluate an existing fishery to advise us maybe perhaps on what will be the next step to take.
(1:06:17) CJ: One thing I want to make clear is this business of the approval process of what is sustainable, and nobody knows what the hell it means, what does sustainable mean. (MM agrees) You say, for example what does it take for a fisherman to catch a certain amount of crabs or fish and I want to make sure I understand them and is it that you take a lot of hours to catch a lot of fish or few hours, which indicates too much pressure on the fishery? MM-Actually the soaking time, usually varies only 6-8 hours. CJ-The what time? MM-The soaking time, the time that they lay their pots or¿