Conservati efforts

Marine ornamental fisheries need to be managed in such a way that they are biologically sustainable, do not conflict with other resource uses and keep post-harvest mortalities to a minimum. Biologically sustainable means that harvested species need to be replenished in their natural habitat at the same or a greater rate than they are collected6. At the same time, it is important to ensure that habitat damage as well as impacts to other species are minimized. Fisheries must also check that species unsuited to life in aquaria are not collected. From a socio-economic point of view, trade needs to be equitable and resource conflicts between users (especially with members of the tourism industry) need to be minimized.

The establishment of marine reserves where the collection of marine ornamentals is made illegal may help reduce this conflict, whilst at the same time removing a section of the fish population from exploitation and boosting recruitment to adjacent areas. Other measures that can be taken to control collection pressure on marine resources whilst conserving stocks of ornamental species to ensure future sustainable harvests include the setting of quotas and size limits, and restricting access to the ornamental fishery through, for example, the use of permits.

Governments and the industry itself play an important role in supporting conservation initiatives and promoting best practice. However, the consumer can also encourage and promote change in the trade. Third-party certification of the trade, whereby the consumer is empowered to assist in the reduction of the environmental impacts of the trade by selectively purchasing products produced in an environmentally friendly manner, has been recommended by many as a possibility for improved management and monitoring of the trade.

In conjunction with efforts at local and governmental levels to develop management plans guaranteeing the sustainable collection of marine ornamentals from the wild, pressure can be taken off wild populations by

A healthy reef off Nusa Penida, Indonesia.

supplying the trade with tank-bred rather than wild-caught specimens.


MACxix, on behalf of hobbyists, the industry and various environmental groups, is developing a certification scheme that will track an animal from collector to hobbyist. Established in 1996, the goals of MAC are to develop standards for quality products and sustainable practices and a system to certify compliance with these standards, and to create consumer demand for certified products. With a network of 2,600 stakeholders in more than 60 countries, it is recognized as the lead organization for developing and coordinating efforts to ensure that the international trade in ornamental marine organisms is sustainable. MAC certification covers both practices (industry operators, facilities and collection areas) and products (aquarium organisms), and is often lauded as the most effective means to ensure market demand and support for quality products and sustainable practices in the industry30.

Industry operators at any link in the chain of custody (collectors, wholesalers, exporters, importers, retailers) can be certified through an evaluation for compliance with the appropriate MAC standard for the Certification of Practices. For the Certification of Products, MAC-certified marine ornamentals must be harvested from a certified collection area and pass from one certified operation to another, for example, from collector to exporter to importer to retailer. MAC-certified marine organisms bear the 'MAC-certified' label on the tanks and boxes in which they are kept and shipped. To ensure that MAC certification is credible and internationally acceptable, MAC does not verify compliance with its own standards. It accredits independent third-party certification companies (Accredited Certifiers), which in turn assess compliance with the appropriate MAC standard.

The MAC Core Standards outline the requirements for third-party certification of quality and sustainability in

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