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Marine Ornamental Trade
Introduction | Identification | Impacts | Causes | Actions | More Info

Collecting and marketing reef organisms for aquariums has occurred in a sustainable and responsible manner for decades in some areas. However, many countries do not collect specific data on the marine ornamental trade nor do they have management programs to monitor the collection of targeted species (USCRTF 2000). In some of these areas, the international trade in aquarium fish and invertebrates has been associated with several unsustainable and damaging practices. Among these practices are: the overexploitation of target species, including rare, relatively rare, and endemic species; the use of cyanide as a fishing method; the collection of inappropriate species that do not live well in aquaria; and improper handling and transport of collected animals, leading to high post-harvest mortality rates. A historical lack of good reef resource management systems, supportive national and local laws and infrastructures, and sustainability-based markets for reef products are at the root of this problem.

Reef Check has been working with the Marine Aquarium Council (MAC) and its partners to promote a certified marine aquarium trade that operates in accordance to international standards to ensure the health of marine aquarium organisms and the reefs from which they come. To this effect, Reef Check has developed a protocol for assessing and monitoring reefs where the collection of fish, coral and other invertebrates for the aquarium trade occurs. The goal of the Marine Aquarium Trade Coral Reef Monitoring Protocol (MAQTRAC) is to provide a tool to help manage the fishery so that the productivity and biodiversity of the reefs are maintained.
Barrier nets are used for capturing aquarium fishes. Location: Cebu, Philippines. Photo by: M. Ross (from ReefBase: http://www.reefbase.org)
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