More than 500 species of invertebrates (other than corals) are traded as marine ornamentals, though the lack of a standard taxonomy makes it difficult to arrive at a precise figure. The best estimate of global annual trade ranges between 9 and 10 million animals, mostly molluscs, shrimps and anemones. Two groups of cleaner shrimp, Lysmata spp. and Stenopus spp., and a group of anemones, Heteractisspp., account for approximately 15 per cent of all invertebrates traded.

Overall, there is a pressing need for basic information on the population dynamics and life history characteristics of organisms targeted by the ornamental trade. Combined with accurate trade data, such information is essential for making more informed decisions regarding the sustainable collection of marine ornamentals.

Other efforts needed to achieve sustainable management of the aquarium trade include the continued development and wider application of third-party certification, whereby the consumer is empowered to assist in reducing the environmental impacts of the trade by selectively purchasing specimens produced in an environmentally friendly manner. At the source country level, the implementation of measures such as quotas and size limits, and restricted access to the ornamental fishery through, for example, the use of permits and the establishment of areas closed to the fishery, are recommended where appropriate, though proper consultation is essential. Further research in developing mariculture protocols for raising commonly traded species in source countries, to take pressure off wild stocks and to avoid removing livelihoods from local communities, should also be promoted. To date, only one-fifth of giant clams are cultured, while only 1-10 per cent of fish and fewer than 1 per cent of coral species are capable of being captive bred. Even fewer species are bred in commercial quantities.

Cleaner shrimp, Stenopus spp.

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