[Coral-List] Coral and Fish for Sale: MAQTRAC

Gregor Hodgson gregorh at reefcheck.org
Thu Feb 21 14:48:23 EST 2008

Until recently, Reef Check has been working with the Marine Aquarium Council
which has been promoting certification of the aquarium trade for about 8
years. Reef Check's role was to develop high-end, species specific
monitoring protocols for fish, corals and other invertebrates and to design
methods to analyze and interpret the results from a stock assessment
perspective. There are several publications freely downloadable from our
publications page that may be useful to those interested in assessing and
managing aquarium collection.

The MAQTRAC methods have been used successfully to help design management
plans in Fiji, Indonesia and the Philippines and include a newly developed
method of stock assessment for corals. More importantly, we were able to use
the marine aquarium trade to successfully leverage governments to establish
MPAs. The Field and Analysis Manuals and a paper on effects of unregulated
collection impacts are listed below.


Hodgson, G and D. Ochavillo. (2006). MAQTRAC Marine Aquarium
<http://reefcheck.org/PDFs/MAQTRAC%20Field%20Manual%202006.pdf>  Trade Coral
Reef Monitoring Protocol Field Manual. 

Ochavillo, D. and G. Hodgson. (2006). MAQTRAC marine aquarium
<http://reefcheck.org/PDFs/MAQTRAC%20Analysis%20Manual%202006.pdf>  trade
coral reef monitoring protocol data analysis and interpretation manual. 

Ambrose, <http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00338-005-0027-z>  R., Hodgson, G.,
Shuman, C. (2005). Population impacts of collecting sea anemones and
anemonefish for the marine aquarium trade in the Philippines, Coral Reefs,
24 (4) 564 - 573


As of January 1, 2008 Reef Check has reluctantly withdrawn support from the
Marine Aquarium Council's certification program due to its failure, however
we continue to believe that many elements of the program can be usefully
applied to management of the marine aquarium trade, and we continue to work
with the trade to try to encourage this use.


On the "ban vs. manage" question in developing countries, there are trade
offs between the educational value of home and commercial aquarium owners
having access to species that cannot yet be bred in captivity, and the
plight of tens of thousands of villagers in less developed countries who
collect fish/corals to help support their families versus the potential for
unregulated collection, especially using illegal methods such as poison,
having the potential to damage reefs. Reef organisms are living albeit wild,
and do reproduce and replace themselves. There is a strong social and
ecological argument that poor fishermen living on already overfished reefs
are better encouraged to continue to fish part-time for aquarium fish,
corals etc to supplement their income rather than trying to ban the aquarium
trade and either have it go completely underground or to have these aquarium
fishermen be forced into catching even more food fish to survive further
damaging the ecosystem. 


Ideally more investment in captive breeding of all reef organisms will
eventually produce a steady supply of the long list of organisms desirable
for the trade and take the pressure off the reefs. Until then, lets work
together to encourage better management locally and better education among
consumers in destination countries. As scientists, lets stick with good
science and not focus on numbers of organisms collected from a reef without
putting this in the proper context of a formal stock assessment such as can
be completed using MAQTRAC.


Gregor Hodgson, PhD
Executive Director, Reef Check Foundation
P.O. Box 1057 (mail)
17575 Pacific Coast Highway (Fedex)
Pacific Palisades, CA 90272-1057
Tel: +1-310-230-2371 Fax: +1-310-230-2376
email: gregorh at reefcheck.org
www.ReefCheck.org <http://www.reefcheck.org/> 

Please sign the <http://www.reefcheck.org/petition/petition.php>
International Declaration of Reef Rights!

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