Beating a dead fish to death in Micronesia

Have you ever beat a dead fish to death? It’s dead already, but now you’re just wasting the meat and more importantly, your time.

Two articles on dead fish

Back in March of this year (just 2 months ago!), an article came out about potentially harmful pathogens in Pohnpei’s fish markets.  It was an informative article.  Slightly confused as to who wrote the article.  Because on the Pacific Islands Times, it was written by Bill Jaynes from the Kpress, but on the Kpress it was written by Dr Kevin Rhodes of MarAlliance.  I’m going with Kpress and Dr Rhodes being the author.  I could be wrong.

The article shared the results of a survey done on some fish at some markets that revealed “potentially harmful pathogens”.  What was odd about this article is that it did not name any of the markets.  It did not even sample half of the markets.  It claimed collaboration with unnamed state and national agencies, then it named the only agency involved in this sort of testing as having declined participation in the survey.  I’m thinking of fishing lines being tangled up right now.

Here comes another article (published on 5 May 2018) that says Snapshot of Pohnpei fish markets reveals holes in regulation, ok that’s a different article talking about the same issue in Pohnpei, written by someone in Pohnpei?

The article says this about the other article:

Dr. Kevin Rhodes, the fish biologist who ran the study admitted that the small sample — five fish from five markets — is not enough to condemn local fish markets,  but contended that the results highlight a need for regular testing and enforcement.

Hold on, why was condemnation of the local fish markets even on the agenda?

The Agency responsible

Now Pohnpei State’s Environmental Protection Agency or EPA is brought into the second article:

  Donna Scheuring, a consultant with the Pohnpei EPA, confirmed that testing market fish for bacteria and disease is not a priority, but that monthly facility testing is—unless of course [EPA personnel] are too busy. The small EPA office has three inspectors who cover all food-related businesses, including school cafeterias and prisons.

So, some form of testing is done.  It may not be enough for some people, or even up to the standards that EPA themselves has set, but it’s being done.  Is it effective?

Anyone who has lived in Pohnpei for the past 5 years or 10 years, please comment and tell me when was the last time we had a food-borne illness outbreak due to fish?  Ms Scheuring said it best:

“Pohnpeians are experts at looking for good fish,” Scheuring said. “It’s kind of obvious, the eyes are clear and the gills are pink and the flesh is firm, that’s just kind of a standard protocol for how you go out to the fish market to see if the fish is fresh or not, so it’s not a big deal for Pohnpeians.”

Thank you Donna.  She has lived here for many, many years working for our people.

Conclusion

I’m sure this was all done in the best interest of the people.  To make sure the fish we are eating are clean and that all fish vendors are up to a decent sanitary standard.  Bravo for those great things.  Dr Rhodes said he was thinking of 2023 and was “hoping it would incentive them to improve sanitation and health not only for the consumers but also for what tourists see when they come into the state.”  Great idea Doctor! This should have been conveyed when only 5 of the estimated 20 markets were tested with just about 5 fish.

May we continue to eat our fish in Pohnpei without anymore articles to scare us?  And may the Pohnpei state EPA please have more staff to conduct regular inspections of our markets.  And last but no least, if you’re not sure about the fish at the market, don’t buy it.

See you on my next blog or on my Podcast powered by Anchor.

Author: patpedrus

I am here, you are there, we are one.

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