Marine Aquarium Council - Certifying Quality & Sustainability

Paul Holthus paul.holthus at
Thu Feb 4 15:48:04 EST 1999

Dear Coral-Listers,

Please allow me to bring the Marine Aquarium Council to your attention. 
MAC is a major new international effort to address sustainability and quality
in the harvesting and commerce of marine aquarium organisms.

Below is a brief description of the rationale, background and status of this
comprehensive program to develop standards, certification and labeling for the
marine ornamentals industry.  

The MAC website ( contains more information as well as
means to register your interest in being a part of this growing global

We look forward to the involvement of the coral reef science and management
community in these efforts.

With regards,

Paul Holthus

Executive Director
Marine Aquarium Council
3035 Hibiscus Drive, Honolulu, Hawaii 96815
Ph: +1 808 923-3254  Fax: +1 808 923 -6023  
E-mail: paul.holthus at


Market forces are one of the most useful means to encourage and support
"products" and sustainable practices in the marine ornamentals industry. The
demand from informed consumers for such products and practices will create
incentives for industry to adopt and adhere to standards to improve quality
control and management of the organisms, habitat, and industry practices and
provide a quality-assured, higher value-added product.

The corollary is that marine aquarium organisms of poor quality and
unsustainable practices will face decreasing market acceptance.  As a result,
destructive and substandard practices (e.g. use of sodium cyanide, lack of
water quality control, high levels of mortality) will decrease as these
operators either adjust their practices "upward" to comply with the standards
or lose the support of the market and fall out of the industry.

To put these market forces to work, a Certification System is needed to: 
·       establish standards for quality products and practices;
·       provide a system to document compliance with these standards;
·       label the results of certification for quality assurance; and 
·       create consumer demand and confidence for certified and labeled
organisms, practices and industry participants.

Due to the global nature of the trade in marine ornamentals, an independent,
multi-stakeholder, international institution is required to work with all of
the relevant parties, especially the entire industry "Chain of Custody" - i.e.
from collectors to exporters to importers/wholesalers to retailers and the
consumer. The Marine Aquarium Council has been established for this purpose.

The Marine Aquarium Council (MAC) is a non-profit organization that brings
together a rapidly growing cross section of representatives of the ornamentals
industry, conservation organizations, government agencies, public aquariums,
hobbyists and scientists - all with a shared interest in the future of the
marine ornamentals industry, the marine organisms it is based on and the
habitat that supports them. Stakeholder consultations are underway to develop
standards and test them in pilot areas, and begin initial certification in
1999.  Participation in MAC is open to those ready to collaborate and
contribute to a constructive dialogue and the development of a Certification
System for marine ornamentals.

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