Using Data to Shape the Future of a Sustainable Global Marine Aquarium Trade [Excerpt]

A Philippine collaboration with New England Aquarium on Marine Aquarium Data could be a game-changer.

The following article was published at The Fish Channel. This is an excerpt from that article.

In March of 2015, Philippine Undersecretary for Fisheries Asis Perez signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the New England Aquarium that built on the success of the Marine Aquarium Biodiversity and Trade Flow database I discussed in my earlier blog entry on why data matter. Expanding this database beyond U.S. imports is critical, as it could ultimately provide real-time monitoring and feedback on global trade activity and help shape the future of a responsible, sustainable and defensible global marine aquarium trade. Because the best available data show Philippines is the largest source country for the global trade in marine ornamental species, an analysis of Philippine export data could have wide-reaching effects on the marine aquarium trade.

With the publication of U.S. import data in the Marine Aquarium Biodiversity and Trade Flow database ( in early July 2015, interested parties have had an unprecedented opportunity for analysis beyond the oft-repeated anecdote, allegations and rhetoric. Having these data has already played a crucial role in the National Marine Fisheries Service’s recent decisions not to list Amphiprion percula (orange clownfish) under the Endangered Species Act, to list just 20 of more than 80 petitioned coral species, and the draft decision to propose listing the Banggai cardinalfish (Pterapogon kauderni) as “threatened” instead of “endangered.”

U.S. import data has also identified some challenges for the trade such as the fact that more than 80 percent of the marine aquarium fishes imported to the U.S. come from the two source countries that we have the most concern when it comes to illegal…

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About Ret Talbot

Ret Talbot is a freelance writer who covers fisheries at the intersection of science and sustainability. His work has appeared in publications such as National Geographic, Mongabay, Discover Magazine, Ocean Geographic and Coral Magazine. He lives on the coast of Maine with his wife, scientific illustrator Karen Talbot.
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