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Inverts for Food
Introduction | Identification | Impacts | Causes | Actions | More Info

Animals without backbones are known as invertebrates and many make their home on coral reefs. In fact, corals are invertebrate animals as well. Giant clams, conchs, sea cucumbers, sea urchins, lobsters, and snails are some of the invertebrates collected for both local consumption and export to international markets. Local subsistence needs, as well as the income that can be made from collecting and selling these animals are the primary reasons why invertebrates are targeted. The international markets in particular provide local fishers and collectors economic incentives to continue to harvest these animals, even to the point of resource depletion. Collection itself is not bad; it is the overcollection or overexploitation that is a problem. Many of these species have been harvested to near local extinction. Lastly, the overcollection of adult invertebrates will cause problems for future generations. Some larval invertebrates, such as clams and conchs, prefer to settle in areas where existing adult populations are already established. As adults are overharvested, it will be more difficult for floating larvae to pick up the chemical cues that adult populations give off because of the dwindling number of individuals.
Local fisherman with bag of sea urchins. Location: Olango Island near Cebu, Philippines Photo by: J. Oliver (from ReefBase: http://www.reefbase.org)
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