[Coral-List] sustainable aquarium trade focussed in source countries

Les Kaufman lesk at bu.edu
Sat Dec 8 12:58:05 EST 2007

Happy holidays everybody.

I am trying to construct the most realistic scenario possible for  
sustainable aquarium export businesses that bring income directly to  
people of modest means in the source country.  I"m aware of some  
limited experiments in French Polynesia, the Philippines, Taiwan,  
Australia, and Fiji.  These reflect a mix of larval capture/rear-out  
and local captive propagation, including live rock and invertebrate  
farming.   Three things I'm still looking for.  One is a business  
plan or analysis that explains the conditions under which this kind  
of enterprise is itself sustainable (as a business).  The second is a  
description of the product line and how it was successfully juggled  
so as to remain responsive to the market and keep revenue flowing.   
The third is a measure of the material and other benefits to the  
local community resulting from this business.

Of course, there is a fourth conundrum here, the matter of how to  
strike a balance between benefits to inhabitants of coral reef  
nations, versus the wonderful efforts of aquarists and entrpreneurs  
in developed nations that has led to the ex situ production of many  
fishes and invertebrates.   Without this, the aquarium hobby is hard  
to grow.  If it takes over, the result is one more example of local  
people being disenfranchised from the benefits that flow from their  
own local natural resource base.

I am not going into the business myself and have no wish to steal  
anybody's trade secrets.  The outstanding question is simply this:   
what would the marine aquarium trade look like, in detail, if it were  
truly serving the interests of people living local to the wild  
sources of the ornamental species.   The ultimate goal is to create a  
win-win for people and coral reefs.  The aquarium trade would  
automatically be a third winner, a success that would create positive  
feedback to coral reef conservation.

If we manage to figure this all out, there is some chance for at  
least a little investment by conservation funders.

Thanks to all those who have already been of assistance in this  
little crusade.


Les Kaufman
Professor of Biology
Boston University Marine Program
Senior PI
Marine Management Area Science
Conservation International

“I know the human being and fish can coexist peacefully.”
George W. Bush
Saginaw, Michigan; September 29, 2000

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