Catching of තඹුවා / Red Tomato Grouper (Cephalopholis sonnerati) banned
The minister of Fisheries has,by an order under Section 29 of the Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Act (FARA),and published in Gazette Extraordinary No. 2014/04 of 11.04.2017,titled “Regulations to Prohibition of Catching Fish Species ‘Thambuwa’ 2017” has provided protection to the Red Tomato Grouper (තඹුවා) in Sri Lankan waters.
Thus,the taking of,catching,killing,trasportation,sale and keeping in possession of a dead or live specimens of this fish are all banned and are offences under the FARA.
This species is valued both as a food fish and for the live fish trade and it has been warned that it could become threatened if the current level of exploitation continues.
It is a fish that has evolved a “Mutualistic Relationship” with the Cleaner Wrasse,and the latter is allowed to enter the mouth of this grouper to eat morsels trapped between the teeth,and the grouper opens the mouth and keep still to accommodate the wrasses.Hence,the grouper is helpful to the maintenance of this wrasses which play a big role in helping other fishes to thrive by cleaning the parasites.
Thus,the protection of the Red Tomato Grouper will not only help this species,but the whole eco-system.
The protection of this fish is thus a very positive conservation measure taken by Sri Lanka.
Jagath Gunawardana Attorney-at-law
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