Last week we introduced you to Varivoce (Humphead Wrasse) and Vonu (turtles) - seafood to exercise caution around as a sustainable seafood shopper.
This week please meet the kalia! The kalia or the bumphead parrotfish is listed as a vulnerable fish species on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.
The huge bump on its forehead easily distinguishes it from other fishes, and owes its name to its beaky shaped mouth similar to that 'talkative' bird - you know which bird I'm talking about - koki or parrot!
Actually the bumphead is the largest of the parrotfish family and can grow up to 1.3 meters in length and live up to forty years.They are quite a sight to behold with their large bulbous forehead and prominent teeth plates.
Unfortunately, their numbers are declining, threatened by overfishing and the degradation of their habitat. In fact, they are becoming a rare sight.
Kalia - The Excavator!
The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) is monitoring sightings of the bumphead parrotfish and reports that the fish performs an important ecological role doubling as an 'excavator' of sorts.
WCS's summary of the fish's activity states: "They remove limestone and dead corals from the reef as they feed on algae and live corals. Their feeding activities expose the hard reef matrix, opening up new sites for corals to colonise."
"Some of the last remaining schools can be seen in and around the Namena Marine Reserve and on Cakau Levu (Great Sea Reef) to the north of Vanua Levu."
Night spearfishing is listed as one of the biggest threats to the kalia that sleeps in reef caves making them vulnerable.
WCS -Fiji advocates for the protection of the kalia encouraging communities to protect them to boost their reef resilience.
Return to Sea
The organisation has also introduced fish ruler stickers that show the minimum size at maturity and the types of fish that are particularly threatened in Fiji.
Our friend the Kalia falls under the 'Protected and Threatened Species' category -those types of fish that must be returned to the water carefully without harm.
The World Wide Fund for Nature's (WWF) conservation focus, the Qoliqoli Cokovata of Macuata, covers 1,349 square kilometers of qoliqoli (fishing) area, over which the four districts of Mali, Dreketi, Sasa and Macuata retain custodial ownership.
WWF South Pacific through the Sustainable Coastal Resource Management program, received reports of increased sightings of the kalia from fishermen of Mali district following the institution of marine protected areas within several of their reef systems - Cakau Sese, Cakau Vuata, Deladravu and Bulea in 2004.
WWF is committed to working closely with our qoliqoli communities in protecting the kalia through marine protected area networks and the promotion of sustainable fisheries. Through MPA's and community engagements, organisations like WWF and WCS are doing their bit to protect the Kalia to allow the fish's population to grow.
What can you and I do? Be sustainable in our seafood choices! Be alert about the species of fish that you buy. Some species of fish are not as plentiful as others and therefore need to be given the opportunity to replenish itself.
The kalia is one such species of edible fish that you should be aware of. Tell your family and friends about it - spread the good word and help this fish to survive for many more generations to come!