[Coral-List] Distructive fishing practices in the Caribbean--long

capman at augsburg.edu capman at augsburg.edu
Fri Apr 30 18:22:55 EDT 2004

These stories of the overfishing and overall devastation of reef fish 
communities are truly depressing.  Most of these stories in this 
thread seem to deal with larger fish that are caught for human 
consumption.  I'm wondering whether the same stories can be told 
about the smaller fish collected for the aquarium trade?  Are they 
also being overfished?

Certain Caribbean reef fish are popular in the aquarium trade.  For 
example, fish such as royal grammas and cherub angelfish (and 
flameback angelfish) are particularly popular and abundant in the 
aquarium trade.  Queen angelfish are also commonly encountered in the 
aquarium trade, as are yellowheaded jawfish, and occasionally other 
fish such as Caribbean blue tangs and some of the dwarf seabasses 
(e.g. chalk bass).

What sort of impact is the collection of these fish for the aquarium 
trade having on wild fish populations and on the reef in general?

How much of this collection for the aquarium trade is being done in a 
responsible, sustainable manner?  It seems that if done properly, 
income from collection for the aquarium trade could make intact reefs 
more valuable locally, perhaps giving people near the reefs 
motivation for taking steps to preserve and protect them, though I 
fear the reality might be something a bit different (??).

Also as populations of large predaceous reef fish such as groupers 
are overfished, are some of the smaller fish increasing in abundance? 
If so, it seems the effects could be unpredictable and complex, and 
likely not good for the reef (e.g. fewer larger predators -> more 
damselfish.  More damsels + fewer parrotfish and maybe fewer tangs 
and surgeonfish  might then result in lots more algae???)


Bill Capman
Associate Professor
    and Department Chair
Biology Department
Campus Box 117
Augsburg College
2211 Riverside Ave.
Minneapolis, MN 55454  USA
FAX: 612/330-1076
capman at augsburg.edu

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