Management Initiatives For The Trade

Marine ornamental fisheries, if managed sustainably and integrated with other resource uses, have the potential to provide many people in source countries with a stable source of income and thus a livelihood. Countries like the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu have no specific management plans for the ornamental marine industry221. On the other hand countries such as Fiji, Palau and Australia have policies regulating collection of reef organisms6. Unfortunately, these often exist only on paper, are not enforced and were rarely implemented on the basis of rigorous scientific baseline studies or monitoring activities and so in most cases might not be effective at actually conserving populations.

When addressing issues relating to the management of ornamental fisheries, it is important to involve all parties concerned. This includes collectors, wholesalers, governments, hobbyists, scientists and members of industries who might have a resource conflict with aquarium collectors (e.g. the tourist industry)6. One of the most promising and effective strategies is to allow local communities to manage and control their fisheries. A number of islands in the Pacific Ocean, where local village communities have legal rights to particular reef areas, are successful examples of such a system222.

Overall it is also important to highlight the need for further research on the biology, population dynamics, recruitment and conservation importance of species involved in the marine ornamental trade, with a particular focus on rare or endemic species and species that show poor survival in aquarium conditions. A survey of the distribution and abundance of target species, including an assessment of the exploitable area, is also crucial when attempting to set quotas or develop a management plan for resources harvested for the aquarium trade.

In a similar manner as for many conventional commercial food fisheries, measures such as limiting access to the fishery, establishing reserves and setting quotas have been suggested as direct ways for controlling aquarium fisheries and ensuring their sustainable development. In all of these instances, scientific data such as the biology, population dynamics and recruitment patterns of traded species need to be collected. However, to date, such scientific information has been lacking. Catch data to species level is also important when attempting to assess the effects of collection, developing management strategies and assessing their efficacy.

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