07 January 2014 Conservation and management of the coral reef aquarium trade Posted by: Daniel Thornhill | 1 comment | Share: By Dan Thornhill and Laura Dee, UC Santa Barbara Coral reef ecosystems face many conservation challenges. Reefs are in decline all across the world as a result of pollution, overfishing, global warming, acidifying oceans, and more. One potential contributor to the decline of coral reefs is the collection of colorful and attractive fish to supply the aquarium trade. Overexploitation of reef fishes can lead to population declines and even localized extinctions. A prominent example is the Banggai cardinalfish, a gorgeous reef fish that is now endangered due to over collection for the aquarium trade. Across the world, governments have attempted a wide range of conservation and management strategies for coral reefs. Their goal is usually to protect reef resources while also allowing trade to continue sustainably. To learn from these practices and to identify success stories that can be replicated elsewhere, we reviewed conservation practices in 18 different states and countries. Management of coral reefs and the many species that depend on them helps ensure they will be healthy and thriving for years to come. (©David Burdick/NOAA) Unfortunately, many of the places that we examined had very minimal protections for reef wildlife. For example, 58% did not have a plan for how to manage fish for the aquarium trade. Only 4 of the 18 places that we examined assessed what level of fishing would be sustainable. 73% of countries examined did not restrict the size of reef fishes that could be caught for the aquarium trade. Management and conservation measures were often minimal, leaving few protections for reef fishes, and opening the door for over collection to occur. To ensure a sustainable supply of fishes and healthy populations, collection for the aquarium trade requires careful monitoring and oversight. Despite these patterns, there were some examples of successful management practices. For example, the Maldives uses a system that applies increasing protections for reef fishes depending on their vulnerability – the more danger a species is in, the more protection they get. Another example is Australia, which limits who is allowed to fish, puts limits on the total number of fish that can be taken, has areas where fishing is not allowed, bans certain species, and has a robust system of import and export restrictions to protect wildlife. Here in the U.S., the Big Island of Hawai’i has set aside 35% of the Kona coastline as a no-fishing reserve and recently added restrictions on which fish can be taken. These successful approaches to conservation should be used more widely and combined with innovative new methods from food fisheries. By calling attention to successful practices, we hope to help improve protections for reef wildlife across the world. One Response to “Conservation and management of the coral reef aquarium trade” Jane Clugston January 7th, 2014 Conservation and Education are Key. They are critically intertwined.Thank you Defenders of Wildlife for making this worls#ABetterPlace Post Your Comment Click here to cancel reply. Name (required) Mail (required) (will not be published) You May also be interested in California prepares to welcome wolves home, but delays on providing state protections Now, as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposes to remove Endangered Species Act protection for wolves throughout most of the rest of the country, gray wolves are once again at risk. Delisting would short-circuit wolf recovery in the Pacific West and would effectively mean giving up on one of our country’s most important and iconic species. Fortunately, California has an opportunity to play a meaningful role in helping the gray wolf continue to recover in the coming months and years. I Was There It was a bitterly cold winter morning when the convoy departed down the remote Forest Service road near Salmon, Idaho. Decades after scientists first called for the restoration of wolves in the region, the first four wolves arrived in Idaho on January 14, 1995, thanks to the Endangered Species Act… Victory for Wild Bison in Montana! In a decision that the uninitiated would argue is a painful exercise in stating the obvious, a Montana court last week determined that the wild bison of Yellowstone, an animal that has roamed the continent for millennia, are indeed wild animals.