Part II in my ten-part series titled “The Sustainably Minded Marine Aquarist” is out at Advanced Aquarist Online Magazine. In it, I discuss why sustainably minded aquarists will go out of their way to source animals from the smaller developing island nations, Australia and Hawaii, or aquaculture facilities.
The vast majority of animals imported to the United States for the marine aquarium trade are sourced from two countries: Philippines and Indonesia. Unfortunately, these are the two countries about which we have the most concerns regarding fishery sustainability. For the marine aquarium trade to claim sustainability–and for trade advocates to be able to effectively argue aquarists “protect what they love” and are on the front lines of marine conservation–the status quo will have to change. With almost no traceability in the largest source countries, aquarists (and even importers/wholesalers and exporters in source countries) have no way of knowing if the fishes originating in these countries were harvested sustainably or even legally.
The short term solution is for sustainably minded aquarists to acquire animals sourced from the fisheries or aquaculture facilities where sustainability is far more likely. The long term solution is comprehensive reform of the aquarium trade, including a verifiable, third-part certification scheme much like we see in the seafood industry.
“[A] truly sustainable and robust marine aquarium trade relies on both cultured fishes and traceable, sustainably harvested wild fishes. The sustainable marine aquarist thinks we need more of both.”
Read the full article here.
Check out the new FREE mobile app to educate consumers on sustainably sourced fish: Tank Watch — the Good Fish / Bad Fish Tool for Saltwater Aquariums
As I’m sure you know from reading my posts in the past, I support sustainable aquarium fisheries in the same was I support sustainable food fisheries. The effect of aquarium fisheries is tiny compared to commercial food fisheries and even recreational fisheries. Having said that, the aquarium trade does need comprehensive reform to address unsustainable and illegal activity. Framing all wild-harvested fishes as “bad fish” is, however, a simple approach that ignores the complexities of data-driven, adaptive fisheries management and environmental & socio-economic sustainability. As is often the case, the best way forward avoids the extreme positions and deals in the gray areas. Regardless, I’m pleased we’re having the dialog.