Divers and Fish

capman at augsburg.edu capman at augsburg.edu
Thu Nov 1 23:49:43 EST 2001

In addition to the increasing successes in captive breeding of reef 
fish for the aquarium trade, many thus far unbreedable  species of 
reef fish are now being offered for sale (in some of the more 
responsible aquarium shops anyway) that have apparently been captured 
from the wild as planktonic larvae (presumably close to the time when 
they would be settling out on the reef) and raised up to salable size 
in captivity.  It would seem that as long as there are viable 
breeding populations on the reefs to produce these larvae this might 
prove to be a much more environmentally sound way of providing fish 
for the aquarium trade (if the breeding populations on the reefs are 
fished out this isn't going to work though, of course!).

It would seem to me that the probability of depleting populations by 
collecting larvae would be much lower than from collecting fish from 
the reefs themselves, and there would be little to no damage to the 
reefs as a result of these collecting efforts.  However, reality is 
not always as one supposes when viewed from thousands of miles away. 
So my question for the group is:  are any of you familiar with these 
operations?  Are they in fact as low-impact as they seem to be?

Do you think there is much potential for local people in the vicinity 
of the reefs to be able to benefit from such an approach (e.g. by the 
establishment of rearing facilities), or is this probably going to be 
an approach mostly carried out by fish farms distant from the sources 
of the larvae.  It seems that for local people to embrace the 
protection of their local coral reefs they will need to perceive the 
reefs as providing them with some benefits.

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