The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is moving forward with the process that could lead to the listing of the Banggai cardinalfish under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), an action that could ultimately lead to the end of the trade in the popular marine aquarium species.
Responding to a July 2013 petition, NMFS determined in their “90-day finding” that there exists “substantial information” in the petition to indicate that listing the Banggai cardinalfish, Pterapogon kauderni, may be warranted. The 538-page petition was submitted by WildEarth Guardians and asked the government agency to list a total of 81 marine species, including 23 species of coral, 22 sharks, 15 bony fishes, 10 skates and rays, five marine mammals, three species of hagfishes, and three species of sea snakes. WildEarth Guardians is a non-profit environmental group that has petitioned for the listing of more than 700 species since 2007.
In addition to the Banggai cardinalfish, 26 other species from the petition have now entered status review based on a “substantial” finding. At the conclusion of the status review, expected this summer, the Banggai cardinalfish petition will either advance to the next step toward a final listing, move to the “candidate list,” or be rejected outright.
The Banggai Cardinalfish is a small reef fish believed to be native only to the Banggai Islands in Indonesia. While first described in the scientific literature in the 1930s, the species was virtually unknown until Dr. Gerald Allen “rediscovered” it in the mid-1990s. Soon thereafter, the species surged in popularity and became one of the top ten most imported fishes for marine aquaria in the U.S.
Within a decade, serious concerns started to emerge regarding the sustainability of the Banggai Cardinalfish fishery. Despite grassroots efforts by some concerned aquarists to boycott the species, local efforts to better manage the wild fishery, an “endangered” listing by the IUCN, and a U.S.-led CITES inclusion proposal, the trade in wild-caught Banggai cardinalfish remains largely unregulated, and the data continue to give rise to serious… [Read More]