At Destination

At the receiving end, importers must clear the shipment with customs and the consignment undergoes another veterinary check. However, criticism has been expressed towards the latter as there is a general lack of veterinary control and individuals performing the checks are often not qualified to examine fish. The importer then transfers the shipment to a wholesale facility and the boxes are opened under dimly lit conditions to minimize stress to the fish. Individuals are quarantined in order to acclimatize them to life in captivity, particularly to new feeding cycles and different water chemistry. Care is taken to keep certain species separate and provide others with shelter to minimize aggressive behaviour and associated stress and thus ensure maximum survival rates. Following acclimatization, fish are either sold to other wholesalers or retailers or re-exported. Invertebrate species tend to be kept separately from fish species. Appropriate lighting, i.e. the provision of the right colour spectrum at the appropriate intensity, is of crucial importance to the survival of coral species. Unlike fish species corals do not need to be acclimatized prior to being shipped or sold.

In recent years, wholesalers have found it more and more difficult to remain established, mainly because of the introduction of transhipping, but also due to the expansion of garden centres and pet supermarkets. These centres tend to sell fish [and to a lesser extent invertebrates) in bulk quantities at low prices. They also often lack qualified staff, which frequently results in a lack of information and technical advice at the point of sale and a lack of interest from the purchaser39.

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