Marine Aquarium Council News - 4th Qtr 99

Paul Holthus paul.holthus at
Wed Jan 12 16:33:41 EST 2000

Certifying Quality and Sustainability in the Collection, Culture and Commerce
of Marine Ornamentals

MAC NEWS - 4th Quarter 1999


We are pleased to be able to bring this 4th Quarter 99 issue of MAC News to
growing MAC Network of over 900 people and organizations in 50 countries and
territories.  With the successful completion of MAC's first full year of
activity, the first MAC Annual Report was submitted to the MAC Board and will
soon be available on the updated MAC website, summarizing our activities,
progress, and challenges in 1999. The Council is moving solidly forward into
what promises to be a very exciting year for certification development.

We would like to express our appreciation for your efforts towards
achieving our
collective mission and we look forward to your continued support and
in MAC. In particular, we would highlight the support in 1999 of the David and
Lucile Packard Foundation, the World Wildlife Fund, the MAC Board of Directors
and their organizations, and marine aquarium industry companies too
numerous to
be mentioned. Finally, with all the activities of late 1999, we have a backlog
of communications and regret any delays in responding to you.

Update: US Call for Public Input on Trade in Coral Reef Species

As noted in our November MAC Bulletin, the Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS)
called for public input on the trade in coral reef ornamental species,
particularly whether additional legislation should be considered and what such
legislation might address.  The Dec 6 meeting was well attended by the public
and by Coral Reef Task Force (USCRTF) agencies. Presentations were made by:
MAC, AZA, AMDA, Center for Marine Conservation, Counterpart Int'l,
Humane Society, Indonesia government and industry, MASNA, PIJAC, TRAFFIC,
Resources Institute, and WWF. The overwhelming majority of input focussed
on the
opportunity for the marine ornamentals trade to be environmentally sound and
provide incentives for reef stewardship - and the key role of certification in
achieving this. 

MAC also provided extensive written comments to USFWS (available in January on
our website). Our analysis indicated that current legislation is sufficient
that there are numerous other mechanisms that the US might use to ensure the
trade contributes to the wise use of reefs. However, we also included
suggestions for constructive legislation, in the event such a path is pursued.
About 50-60 organizations, including those listed above, submitted comments to
the USFWS and we would like to thank all those who took the time and effort to
do so. 

As of early January, the USCRTF is working through the issues and input
concerning the trade and the US role and, to our knowledge, no conclusion has
yet been reached. MAC will continue to track the situation and seek to work
with the Task Force. The day after the public meeting, the MAC Director met
key US agencies to identify ways in which we could be mutually supportive or
collaborate in ensuring the trade in marine ornamentals is environmentally

Marine Ornamentals '99 and MAC Workshops

MO '99 proved to be a significant event, bringing together over 300
from the marine ornamentals industry and hobby, aquaculture, government, and
science. From the insightful plenary opening by Martin Moe through to the
closing forum on conference recommendations, MO '99 provided informative
presentations and lively - sometimes heated - discussion on the present and
future of marine ornamentals. The keynote speakers, session paper presenters
and participants included many MAC Board and Network members. 

Of particular importance were the MAC certification workshops and the input
received from participants on Best Practice Standards for: Water Quality and
Husbandry, Cultured Organisms; Live Coral and Live Rock Collection; and
Fish and
Invertebrate Collection. A fifth workshop considered Trade Data and
What we need to know and how we get it.  The working draft of the MAC
of Practice was available at MO '99 and provided the basis for discussion
the workshops. The revised draft standards will soon be available on the
updated MAC website. As outlined in the 3rd Quarter 99 MAC News, a series of
working groups will finalize the initial version of the standards for testing
in mid-2000.

MAC Scientific Advisory Committee and Reef Monitoring 

MAC is forming a Scientific Advisory Committee of senior coral reef scientists
from around the world to provide independent scientific advice on the
and monitoring of marine ornamentals harvest and trade. Certification will
eventually require objective field surveys and monitoring, so we are also
linking with the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network (GCRMN), Reef Check
volunteer monitoring, and ReefBase database programs that collect and assemble
data on coral reef status and trends. MAC is working with these programs to
adapt and apply their methods to certification monitoring. This will ensure
certification related reef monitoring is based on internationally accepted
methods and expertise - creating a "win-win" situation whereby certification
will provide support for the monitoring of harvested reefs and the results
provide data for GCRMN, Reef Check and ReefBase.

Addressing the Need for Marine OrnamentalsTrade Data 

Adequate information on the trade in marine ornamentals is lacking and
discussions on the trade's possible impact are seriously under-informed,
diverting many of us into non-constructive debate and creating the possibility
that major decisions will be based on an absence of information or on
misinformation. MAC is involved in 2 major efforts to improve this situation.
One is a collaborative project proposed by the World Resources Institute to
examine marine fish import data recorded by the USFWS and analyze trade
patterns and trends into the US.

Over the long term, an ongoing international program of documentation and data
for marine ornamentals in trade is needed. MAC and the World Conservation
Monitoring Center (WCMC) are collaborating to develop an international Marine
Ornamentals Information System to provide consistent, comprehensive, quality
information. The system will build on the existing CITES data system at
WCMC and
MAC's need to document compliance with certification standards. Marine
industry exporters and importers around the world have volunteered to provide
data and to assist with developing the system. We encourage the involvement
support of other MAC Network members in this, especially industry

For More Information

As always, if you know someone that should be part of the MAC Network, please
encourage them to visit the MAC website and submit the simple form. 

Contact: Paul Holthus, Executive Director, Marine Aquarium Council  
Ph: (+1 808) 923-3254     Fax: (+1 808) 923-6023  
E-mail: paul.holthus at     Website:

Paul Holthus
Executive Director
Marine Aquarium Council
3035 Hibiscus Dr., Honolulu, Hawaii  USA  96815

Phone: (+1 808) 923-3254    Fax: (+1 808) 923-6023
Email: paul.holthus at
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