Any measures to keep 'weird' groupers in check?

I have been fishing in Singapore waters for many years and have seen a wide variety of groupers being landed in our local waters.

Over the last few years, however, I have seen the appearance of some "weird" looking groupers.

I did some checks and found that these were actually hybrid groupers that had escaped from our fish farms.

These fish farms had been working with the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) to farm cross-breeding groupers to enable faster growing hybrids.

One of these is the Dragon Tiger Grouper which is a cross between the Giant Grouper (E. lanceolatus) and the Brown Marbled Grouper (E. fuscoguttatus).

Similar hybrids are being researched and farmed in Malaysia.

I'm not sure if these escaped fish have started breeding in the wild, or worse, cross-breeding with our local species.

Does AVA have procedures in place to ensure these fish that have escaped do not cause problems to our local marine ecosystem?

We should be concerned about this development as we may be seeing the advent of Frankenfish around our shores.

Lau Chee Kin

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 14, 2018, with the headline 'Any measures to keep 'weird' groupers in check?'. Print Edition | Subscribe