Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Marine aquarium fish trade study reveals fewer fish, more species imported than previously estimated

Date:
May 22, 2012
Source:
Roger Williams University
Summary:
As the popularity of marine aquariums rises, so does the demand for wildlife inhabiting them. Most aquarium fish are harvested from their natural habitats -- primarily coral reefs -- and imported into the United States by the millions annually.

Ocellaris clownfish. As the popularity of marine aquariums rises, so does the demand for wildlife inhabiting them. Most aquarium fish are harvested from their natural habitats -- primarily coral reefs -- and imported into the United States by the millions annually. After a detailed review of import records for marine tropical fish entering the United States over a year's span, scientists found 1,802 species imported, or 22 percent greater biodiversity than previously estimated.
Credit: Calek / Fotolia

As the popularity of marine aquariums rises, so does the demand for wildlife inhabiting them. Most aquarium fish are harvested from their natural habitats -- primarily coral reefs -- and imported into the United States by the millions annually.

After a detailed review of import records for marine tropical fish entering the United States over a year's span, scientists found 1,802 species imported, or 22 percent greater biodiversity than previously estimated. More than 11 million fish were imported from 40 countries, which was less than previously reported, as many freshwater fish and marine invertebrates were being mistakenly counted as marine fish. Additionally, they discovered that more than half of government importation forms during that time had numerical or other reporting discrepancies -- resulting in a 27 percent overestimation of trade volumes.

"There is a delicate balance between the global demand for aquarium fish and its environmental and economic impacts," said lead author Andrew Rhyne, assistant professor of marine biology at Roger Williams University and research scientist at the New England Aquarium. "Without mechanisms in place designed specifically to monitor the aquarium fish trade, we will never have a keen understanding of how it impacts our oceans and the global economy."

"Coral reefs globally are already under tremendous stress from climate change, habitat destruction and pollution," noted co-author Michael Tlusty, director of research at the New England Aquarium. "Poor harvest practices of tropical fish for the home aquarium trade can add to that decline, yet when done right, it can help counter those effects provided the economic benefits of long term sustainability are met locally. That small scale fisheries can provide a framework on which to develop better overall management schemes to protect the reefs."

The unprecedented study just published by the Public Library of Science (PLoS) in PLoS One was funded by the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration's (NOAA) Coral Reef Conservation Program, and conducted by scientists from Roger Williams University, New England Aquarium, U.S. Geological Survey, Boston University, Conservation International, NOAA and the Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation.

At present, multiple sources of trade data exist, but not all data systems were intended to monitor the marine wildlife trade. Researchers looked at aquarium trade imports by comparing the available commercial invoices to government forms.

The review of shipment invoices revealed the number of fish reported on shipping declarations matched the invoices only 52 percent of the time. Scientists found repeated instances of declarations marked as marine ornamental fish also containing other species, such as freshwater fish, corals and other non-marine wildlife.

The aquarium fish trade is an economic boon for its largest exporters, notably the Philippines, Indonesia and Sri Lanka. However, as the demand for these exports rise, natural habitats and species are impacted. Harvesting these wild species can lead to loss of biodiversity, overfishing, and the use of cyanide and environmentally destructive fishing practices. Furthermore, import countries are at risk for the introduction of non-native species and diseases.

"Despite all of the negatives, coral reef conservation is an often overlooked benefit of the marine aquarium trade," said co-author Les Kaufman, professor of biology at Boston University and senior marine scientist at Conservation International. "Hobbyists who enjoy these fish and the seaside villagers who collect them have a common interest -- to maintain the coral reefs. Without coral reef stewardship, the marine aquarium trade would eventually cease to exist."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Roger Williams University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Andrew L. Rhyne, Michael F. Tlusty, Pamela J. Schofield, Les Kaufman, James A. Morris, Andrew W. Bruckner. Revealing the Appetite of the Marine Aquarium Fish Trade: The Volume and Biodiversity of Fish Imported into the United States. PLoS ONE, 2012; 7 (5): e35808 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0035808

Cite This Page:

Roger Williams University. "Marine aquarium fish trade study reveals fewer fish, more species imported than previously estimated." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 May 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120522110301.htm>.
Roger Williams University. (2012, May 22). Marine aquarium fish trade study reveals fewer fish, more species imported than previously estimated. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120522110301.htm
Roger Williams University. "Marine aquarium fish trade study reveals fewer fish, more species imported than previously estimated." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120522110301.htm (accessed September 20, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: San Diego Zoo Welcomes Cheetah Cubs

Raw: San Diego Zoo Welcomes Cheetah Cubs

AP (Sep. 20, 2014) The San Diego Zoo has welcomed two Cheetah cubs to its Safari Park. The nearly three-week-old female cubs are being hand fed and are receiving around the clock care. (Sept. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

AFP (Sep. 19, 2014) Considered a "national heritage" in Belgium, chocolate now has a new museum in Brussels. In a former chocolate factory, visitors to the permanent exhibition spaces, workshops and tastings can discover derivatives of the cocoa bean. Duration: 01:00 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

AP (Sep. 19, 2014) A federal jury has convicted three people in connection with an outbreak of salmonella poisoning five years ago that sickened hundreds of people and was linked to a number of deaths. (Sept. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins