Divers and Fish

John Williams williams at convex.hhmi.columbia.edu
Sat Nov 3 13:06:55 EST 2001

Again, I would make the point that education a priori of getting into the
hobby could significantly reduce the numbers of fish caught.  I would also
point out that any intrusion into any environment will destroy and create
new niches.  Its a mistake to believe that the existence of one species
didnt come by the demise of another or several others.  Is the current
demise of the reefs creating new species? - Most likely.  So what do
you do?  Certainly something, but also not to fool one's self to believe
they can save nature.  Nature will get along fine with or without our
help - it has for nearly 4 billion years and has done so by creating and
destroying species over and over again.  It will continue do so as well.
(Re: Microcosmos - Margulis)

That said, I strongly believe in conservation and I applaud anyone trying
to learn the complexity of an environment and education those who make
significant and possibly lethal intrusions to undisturbed environments.  I
am a realist though.  The niche has been created and it will continue
unbated until the economics change.  Tariffs, licensing, education are
means of creating this change.  The oil crisis of the late 70's created a
demand for fuel economy in new cars - people will change when their
pocketbooks are pinched.

Finally, while I would never say that the reason for keeping an aquarium
is for the good of the oceans, its wrong to say that knowledge learnt in
keeping one cannot be useful in understanding the ocean.  Also, to the
point made by Fautin, your point about the grapes being cultured is well
taken.  However, fragmenting corals does preserve the germ line to some
extent and there is no reason to believe that a cultured animal could not
become 'wild' again.

cheers,  john

On Sat, 3 Nov 2001, Ursula Keuper-Bennett wrote:

> Hi Craig,
> Regarding the aquarium hobby ou wrote:
> >If you want to keep them alive, and everyone who buys a live fish has some
> >interest in maintaining it in live condition, then you need to learn some
> >biology and chemistry.  If you want to keep a reef aquarium, you are
> >absolutely forced to confront many of the same problems that confront
> >corals in the wild (eutrophication, disease, calcium carbonate saturation
> >state, importance of herbivores, etc.)
> Sure, you're "absolutely forced to confront".  But make no mistake the 
> hobbyist CREATED those problems.   And that's the other problem.  Most 
> people seek to learn some biology and chemistry AFTER they make their live 
> purchases and they've experienced several crashes.
> And you got to love the irony of a hobby cognizant of the "importance of 
> herbivores" who then proceeds to remove them from the coral reefs of the world.
> But as someone said earlier, food harvesting by one fisher of reef fish 
> removes far more than a responsible professional fish collector (I believe 
> such people exist).
> I guess what I'm having problems with is the hobby summoning the "good" it 
> does to justify its existence.  Right now we see the same thing in Florida 
> with the "shark feeding hobby" squawking about a recent ban on 
> shark-feeding tours.
> You get the same talking heads insisting shark feeding has value in that it 
> educates people about sharks and brings that close contact that will help 
> people appreciate sharks and therefore fight on their behalf in 
> conservation efforts etc etc.
> Marine aquarium keeping is no more about helping the world's reefs as 
> shark=feeding tours is about giving people a "quality" shark experience.
> Best wishes,
> Ursula
> ~~~~~~~
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