List of local fish species acceptable for consumption

Justification: Though highly prized for their excellent taste, coral reef-associated fish species have been shown time and again worldwide to be extremely vulnerable to over fishing. As reef-friendly dive operators, whose very livelihood depends on the health and diversity of the reefs of North Sulawesi, it is in the best interest of the NSWA to avoid overexploitation of coral reef fisheries in this area. While outlawing blast-fishing, cyanide fishing and spear fishing are excellent measures towards this end, even the traditional hook and line fishery has the capacity to greatly diminish coral reef fishes. We can make further strides towards limiting the effects of this fishery by simply choosing to serve/order non-reef fish species in our restaurants.
While this choice can have undesired effects on local fishermen in other areas (not to mention severely limiting food choices!), North Sulawesi is fortunate in having extensive pelagic (open-water) fisheries that can easily supply restaurants with high-quality, non-reef bound fish. Typical targets for these fisheries include tuna, mackerel, scads, mahi-mahi, jacks and others. The advantages of serving only these non-reef fishes are numerous, including:

1) Pressures on coral reef fish stocks will be reduced. This is very important for dive site quality, as many beginning/intermediate divers will judge a dive solely upon the number of big or colorful fish they see. Sedentary (non-mobile) top predators like groupers and Napoleon wrasse are EXTREMELY vulnerable to over fishing, if not local extirpation, while at the same time being popular attractions for divers. Choosing not to serve these animals on the dinner plate allows many more people to enjoy these long-lived fish for years to come.

2) In a related issue, choosing pelagic fish species ensures that dive operators are not encouraging destructive fishing practices such as dynamite and cyanide fishing and spear fishing, as these activities focus exclusively on coral reef fisheries.

3) Local fishing communities will actually benefit from this switch in food choices; the majority of local fishermen fish pelagic species, and would be happy to sell their catch to local dive operators. This may help improve relationships between dive operators and local communities, who currently believe that they are “missing out” on the cash flow from dive tourism.

4) Worldwide, pelagic fish are generally considered better tasting and healthier than coral reef fish species. Pelagic fish such as yellow fin tuna and dolphin fish (mahi-mahi) are among the most expensive fish in many restaurants worldwide, and both species are very available here in Manado. Furthermore, serving pelagic fish offers two new food dish opportunities - sashimi (raw pelagic fish) and smoked tuna, a local delicacy. Sashimi is only prepared from the freshest of fish, while smoked tuna can last days without refrigeration. Finally, the possibilities of ciguatera and/or cyanide poisoning from reef-related species are eliminated by serving pelagic fish only.

5) Serving pelagic fishes has two further advantages over coral reef fish species. First, pelagic fishes, because of their high fecundity and growth rates, are generally considered much more resilient to over fishing than coral fishes - especially if they are captured by “traditional” techniques. Related to this, the generally higher abundances of pelagic fishes ensure that their price in the market place is often lower than coral reef fishes. By serving pelagic fish, not only can we feel better about our effects on fisheries, we can SAVE MONEY!!

6) While many tourists reportedly request reef species such as grouper, a little education as to the plight of groupers worldwide will generally turn them from grouper consumers to grouper conservationists in a hurry. Other fisheries targets which have special conservation needs include spiny lobster (Panulirus species) and sharks. ALL of these groups are well on their way to extinction in Indonesia (and worldwide) due to extensive exploitation for specialized export markets and we should avoid serving them AT ALL COSTS!!!
This list was put together with the help of Dr. Mark Erdmann. “Mark, as always, many thanks!”


Common English name Scientific name Local North Sulawesi name (Indonesian)
Skipjack tuna Katsuwonus palamis Cakalang
Eastern Little tuna Euthynnus affinis Tongkol, Deho
Yellowfin tuna Thunnus albacares Madidihan
Wahoo Acantocybium solandri Tarusi
Spanish mackerel Scomberomorus commerson Tenggiri, Kambing
Other mackerels, scad Family Scombridae Malalugis, Kalangitu, Oci, Tude
Dolphinfish (mahi-mahi) Coryphaena hippurus Lamadan
Rainbow runners Elagatis bipinnulata Mangananu
Anchovies, silversides Atherinidae, Clupeidae Ikan putih, Teri


Groupers, coral trout Family Serranidae Garopa (Sunu, Kerapu)
Napoleon wrasse Cheilinus undulatus Maming
Reef sharks Family Carcharinidae Gurango (Hiu)
Sweetlips Family Haemulidae Gurara
Spiny lobster (honorary fish) Panulirus sp. Udang karang, Lobster


Parrotfish Family Scaridae Boki (Kakatua)
Snappers Family Lutjanidae Tambako, Pongohi (Kakap)
Rabbitfish Family Siganidae Uhi (Baronang)
Fusiliers Family Caesionidae Lolosi, Kulit pasir
Barracuda Family Sphyraenidae Puparo (Barakuda)
Emperors Family Lethrinidae Untus
Surgeonfishes Family Acanthuridae Gutana, RajaBau
Squirrelfish Family Holocentridae Gora
Goatfish Family Mullidae Teo
Crocodile Needlefish Family Bel onidae Susugi, Longtom
Jacks, trevallies Family Carangidae Bubaro

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North Sulawesi, Indonesia
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