“If catch is decreasing this low down the food chain, prepare to eat algae”

Went to the fish market at Shunfu today.  Look at the fresh fish presented – ready to be cooked for some sumptuous and heart-healthy meal at home for the wife and kids.    

 Of course my thoughts go to possible mercury or other sorts of heavy metal  accumulation possible in seafood.  Then what about the prawns I bought, easy to cook and add some proteins in a stir fry with mushrooms or Kai lan.  Demand for prawns has led to many natural mangroves being cleared.  The industry is sinister when you think how a biodiverse mangrove which acts as a nursery for fish fry and immature crustaceans is cleared just to husband a single species of prawn.
Then there is this concept of “sustainability” that gets bandied around fashionably.  Have we even seriously thought about what it actually means?  Otterman is teaching a module on that and so naturally, it gets featured in conversations.  I asked for the identity of this fish, and it turns out to be the Indian Mackerel.  Nice oily fish that can be baked with some sea salt rubbed on to the skin and eaten with sambal belachan.

He returns the enquiry with this 

” Indian Mackerel (Rastrelliger kanagurta), a common, coastal pelagic species, plankton feeder typically found in large schools. Two other species, with four species of Scomber comprise the “true mackerels”.
Listed in Red List – no data but one Indian report says landings have decreased by 50%.

Worldwide reported landings are increasing, so effort assumed to be increasing. Marketed fresh, frozen, canned, dried salted and smoked.

You’ve given me a good idea of how to present the subject for sustainability – examine major fish in local canteens, take picture (students can relate) and look at FAO, Red List reports.

If catch is decreasing this low down the food chain, prepare to eat algae.”

The Mackerel basically is food for other fish since it feeds on plankton so the fact that it is down the food chain literally means the fish higher up the chain will dwindle significantly by several factors since many mackerels would feed one predatory fish.  Eat algae.

World Wildlife Fund for Nature has a comprehensive guide if you want to be more conscious and channel your consumer demand away from fish that are in serious trouble.  

The Singapore Seafood Guide

The guide is useful.  It could do with some illustration to guide people about the fish we buy.  I don’t think this generation know what fish is what in the first place.  Anyway, I guess if we think we can’t make a difference – think about how shark’s fin has become taboo.



How important is it to revisit your old roots!  Did some really enjoyable research work in FRIM.   I don’t have to imagine the sun flecks, cicadas and tall trees in their presence.

Steve Vai and the Stick of Destiny

The stick came tumbling in the air and it was the last one that the drummer tossed into the crowd. Finally all those years of playing catch with whatever objects was going to prove itself. It rolled, it yawed but my eyes were fixed on the axis of the spin. My hand shot up and the stick surrendered itself to the gravitational and destined grip of my pentadactyl limb. I could hear people behind me gasp in awe that I could make that catch with nary an effort. It was the stick of destiny, thrown by Steve Vai’s drummer – Jeremy Colson. I bequeathed the battered pola to Josh and in that moment passed down to him the love of the music of Steve Vai.

What a concert and what showmanship he engendered in the concert. The climax was really at the end of the show, after the encore when the lights of the hall were turned back on and he was on stage without a mike and talking to the crowd. There he was – one of the best guitarists of our time and immediately made everyone feel the camaraderie that was the love for his music.


20140322-082336.jpgThat’s one battered Vater drumstick with Vater grip tape.