More than 1,000 endangered Humphead Wrasse are en route home after being rescued from poachers in the Philippines this past December. The poachers were apprehended inside Tubbataha Reef Natural Park, a national marine protected area, carrying the Wrasse along with 400 other fish.
A Philippine court ordered that the fish be released back into the wild. The poachers will likely face prison time and high fines for their illegal activities. Since they were rescued, the fish have been housed and cared for by WWF and the Tubbataha Park Management Office. Today, the two groups have begun transporting them safely home to be released back into the park.
The demand for Humphead Wrasse has grown steadily in recent years, particularly in East Asia where their large lips are considered a delicacy. Poaching of these and other fish has become a serious concern in the Coral Triangle region. In the Philippines, 90 percent of fish stocks have been depleted. This creates a precarious situation not only for the survival of the fish but also for local communities where half of the population depends on seafood as their primary source of protein and their very livelihood.