[Coral-List] Saving the Reefs

Scott Countryman scottcountryman at yahoo.com
Thu Dec 13 02:13:02 EST 2012


"Do you think those indigenous people would deplete
their reef for a few dollars if it means they cannot harvest fish to eat
and survive?"

Answer: Unfortunately, as illogical as it may seem, the
answer is absolutely yes. 

Local fisherfolk over harvesting for profit has been a big problem
all over the world for decades and its often worse when there is no effective
government regulation and enforcement. The reality is, that at least out here
in Southeast Asia, its local fisherman (composed of indigenous people and
displaced migrants),  are using all means at their disposal to make
money from the demand coming from the 1st world countries. The trend is only
accelerating and it is devastating what little remains. Its
a free for all out here with little enforcement, and even less punishment,
for those caught illegally catching and selling aquarium fish. Read
the article called 'Of crimes and no punishment' in the report at:  http://www.conservation.org/global/philippines/publications/Documents/Against_The_Tide.pdf
       (page 50)

"They would stop the aquarium trade harvesting in a
second if it endangered them."

Comment: Again I disagree. There are far too many people in any
culture that will take and take, as long as no one stops them, until there is
really nothing left. 

Spend a month swimming around the decimated reefs of  Indonesia or the Philippines, where 80% of the worlds
tropical aquarium fish come from, and see who
is catching and transporting these fish to middlemen to sell to the
international markets.  The live fish trade is unsustainable as
long as hundreds of thousands of poor unregulated fisherman can go out and use
sodium cyanide every day to satisfy this growing demand.  Even if the US
and Europe shut down imports of wild caught tropical fish- the growing demand
from China, Russia, India and the rest of Asia is more than enough to seal the
sad fate of biodiversity in the Coral Triangle.
Most of saltwater aquarium owners have no
idea that they are directly contributing to the extinction of coral reefs on the other side of
the world. . . and what it is even more disheartening about humanity is that
many would continue to buy illegally harvested fish and coral even if they knew
how much damage it is causing in the wild.  I'm
no fan of big government but its becoming more obvious that there should be a
complete ban on the capture and export of all tropical fish and corals unless
there can be a 100% certification process that insures they were bred in
captivity. Furthermore, a 50% sales tax should be voluntarily attached to every
sale of a captive bred tropical fish to go towards coral reef conservation and
rehabilitation in the most devastated coral reefs worldwide. In this way,
needed jobs lost from live fish collecting industry could be funded and replaced with coral reef conservation and building activities. If we
really cared about coral reefs this is the kind of drastic and active approach
that I believe should be taken now on a massive scale. 

used to be one of those people in the US  who enjoyed a tropical fish tank
at home and got excited about going to down to the fish store and buying a
different looking fish for the tank every month without giving it a second
thought where it came from.  But after living in Micronesia and Southeast
Asia for the past 23 years, and spending countless hours underwater on reefs
around the region, its clear that the coral reef ecosystem is under major
threat of disappearing within my lifetime. It is also very obvious that the
destruction is man made. Coral reefs are suffering a death from a million cuts
in the form of countless restaurants serving live tropical fish and from the
saltwater aquarium killing jars spread all over the world.

Its not going to be easy to reverse the
wide scale destruction. . . .consumers are going to have to give up some
variety and pay a bit more if they want to keep tropical marine fish at
home. . .  but this is a small price for us to pay to insure that coral
reefs survive and thrive in the wild.   Again, unless there is a clear distinction,
and strict regulatory barriers, between the two sources of topical fish and
corals then I think the entire wild live fish and coral collecting industry
needs to be shut down until the long term outlook for coral reefs and their
ecosystems improves dramatically. 

It would be great if the educated and
enlightened people of this forum helped to spread the word about the true cost
of buying exotic tropical fish that are taken from the wild and then
do what they can to promote the alternative of buying only captive bred animals
for entertainment.

Scott Countryman
Wild Coral Reef Ecosystem

----- Original Message -----
From: Jon Skrapits <jon at treasurecoastcorals.com>
To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
Sent: Thursday, December 13, 2012 1:43 AM
Subject: [Coral-List] Saving the Reefs

Fellow Listers,

Animals that we can financially benefit from are usually saved and become
abundant. i.e. Water Buffalo In fact, if we eat them they become even more
abundant. Chickens would have a rough time surviving if we(free market)
weren't protecting them. Putting the free market to work on sustaining the
industry through aquaculture is the way to go or it is at least a way to
save a few species from dying off or extinction. Why is the free market
spending money on aquaculture? We realize that coral is scarce and we need
to protect our livelihoods through regeneration and protection of the wild
corals. Maybe the government should be working with aquaculture facilities
to obtain animals and study them without harvesting wild specimens. What
about the gov. partnering with aquaculture facilities to see why corals
die? I see things that can happen good or bad to coral in a day that takes
decades to show itself in the wild. Has the ban on Staghorn and Elkhorn
Coral in the Keys really helped it to rebound? Why would  we think that
banning others would bring them back? How well would corn fields do if left

Leaving the corals in the ocean through regulation will only ensure the
decline and death of corals. It will also enable the government to grow
larger and get involved in areas that is has no expertise in. Do we really
need our tremendously wasteful government to steping into this? Especially
during the current economic turmoil we are facing. We are here because of
people not working together to develop strategies. The free market will
always do better than the government with maybe the military being an
exception and even that is too expensive and wasteful at this point. This
proposed regulation will also ensure the loss of many jobs in FL, the US,
and affect Pacific Island Communities. These people are experts at
controlling and harvesting within limits just as Native Americans were
before our government came and ruined that. Do you think those indigenous
people would deplete their reef for a few dollars if it means they cannot
harvest fish to eat and survive? They would stop the aquarium trade
harvesting in a second if it endangered them. How could our government know
what they need to survive. They have been doing just fine without us and
our overbearing parent the US Government.

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