Friday, 12 September 2014

FRANKENSTEIN’S FISH VIA THE CORAL TRIANGLE




8502057283_f54baba5cb_o“AquAdvantage® Salmon…advanced hybrid salmon designed to grow faster.” Could you get a starker strapline for the commodification of fauna? As the challenges of feeding an exploding global population continue to grow, branded animals like these GM salmon produced by biotech company Aquabounty Technologies could be commonplace, but what about the dangers? GM salmon made headlines recently, with some fearing threats to wild stocks in the Atlantic if they were to escape.

frank4Hybrid grouper on the other hand get almost no media attention, yet they potentially pose a far greater danger. Hybridization is big business in South East Asia, where aquaculture businesses are interbreeding valuable grouper species in a bid to create a fast growing super fish.

Live grouper are highly prized in Hong Kong, Mainland China, Taiwan and other parts of South East Asia. They crowd tanks in seafood restaurants and are ubiquitous at Chinese wedding banquets and other formal occasions, where tradition demands they are served. Grouper can sell for more than US$100 a kilo and very large or rare specimens for much more. The market is huge – in Hong Kong alone, a staggering 3.6 million grouper are consumed each year.

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