On the heels of Rainforest Seafood Limited’s announcement of its pledge to invest over $1M in the fight to protect the highly threatened parrotfish population, Sandals Resorts International has come on board with the launch of its “Save the Parrotfish, Save Our Islands” Campaign.
Adam Stewart, the company’s chief executive officer said it was important for the company to play a role in addressing what is becoming an increasingly troubling situation. He said, “The decreasing parrotfish population is something we need to be concerned about. What we all need to understand is that with a decline in parrotfish stocks our marine life, coral reef ecosystems and our tourism product is threatened. This is something that will affect everyone living in this region if we don’t actively address it.”
Stewart also revealed that the company had long taken a decision to stop purchasing and preparing parrotfish in all its restaurants across the Caribbean and had moved to introducing alternative dishes. In its announcement recently, Rainforest Seafoods Limited, the Caribbean’s largest distributors of seafood, also revealed that it no longer participates in the procurement, production or sale of parrotfish.
Sandals’ efforts will incorporate a region-wide educational campaign with special focus on communities surrounding its resorts as well as internal campaigns among team members at all its properties. The efforts will be spearheaded by the resorts’ Environmental Health and Safety Managers and will include a mix of public education campaigns to be fueled through newspaper and television publications and appearances, jingle competitions challenging the public to create a catchy jingle encouraging people to stop eating parrotfish and training sessions with residents and fisherfolk in resort communities across the region. Among its staff the company will create awareness and encourage action through training sessions with team members, the appointment of ‘Parrotfish Ambassadors’ on each property and a poster competition among team members at all our resorts.
Parrotfish are integral to the sustenance of healthy coral systems as they clean the reefs of algae with their sharp teeth. Excess growth of algae otherwise results in the smothering and eventual death of these systems. Healthy coral reefs also serve as a habitat for most fish and if reefs are not in good condition the entire fish population is threatened. Coral reefs also protect the island from storm surges by breaking the waves before they crash inland, which is important to a storm-prone region like the Caribbean.
Parrotfish also produce sand. When they clean the reefs of algae, they also chip away at the calcium carbonate ‘skeleton’ of the coral reef, grinding it up in their stomachs, and producing sand. An adult parrotfish can produce up to 800lbs of sand in its lifetime. Especially in areas prone to erosion, this is a major factor in helping to maintain the islands’’ beaches.
Excited about the plans underway, Stewart said, “I’m really looking forward to us playing our part in educating the public and our team members about this issue. We all have a role to play and this affects us all. There are alternatives for us to fish and eat, and if we delay in embracing these alternatives and continue the decline of the parrotfish population, it’s clear that we will all pay heavily in the long run.”