The SMART project

The South Pacific Forum Secretariat, together with the Marine Aquarium Council, has started a programme to implement marine ornamentals certification within the South Pacific Region. It will focus primarily on the islands of Fiji, the Cook Islands and the Solomon Islands and will address the negative impacts the ornamentals industry presently has or may have. It will also introduce market-driven third-party certification for established operators to ensure sustainable development of the industry whilst maintaining reef ecosystem health. The programme is to be implemented using a two-step process whereby national consultations and workshops will be conducted first and profiles of local industry partners derived. Recent funding from the EU towards the Sustainable Management of Aquarium Reef Trade (SMART) Project will help build on these efforts and extend the number of countries targeted to also include Kiribati, Vanuatu, Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Palau, Tonga and Samoa.

The two-year initiative seeks to alleviate poverty in Pacific Small Island Developing States by involving coastal communities in the MAC-certified marine aquarium trade, thus enabling communities to engage in economically viable enterprises whilst sustainably managing their coral reef resources. Furthermore, it will disseminate tools in ecosystem management planning, sustainable collection of aquarium products and market linkages to communities within the added-value context of MAC certification. These activities will implement the Barbados Programme of Action for Small Island Developing States, which highlights the need for international cooperation and partnership in efforts made by Small Island Developing States to conserve, protect and restore their ecosystems.

Source: Lovell45 and Scott189

the marine aquarium industry from reef to retail. There are three MAC Core Standards covering the 'reef to retail' supply chain.

a The Ecosystem and Fishery Management (EFM) Core Standard: addresses ¡n-sítu habitat, stock and species management and conservation by verifying that the collection area is managed according to principles that ensure ecosystem health and the sustainable use of the marine aquarium fishery.

□ The Collection, Fishing and Holding (CFH) Core Standard: addresses harvesting of fish, coral, live rock and other coral reef organisms, handling prior to export, holding, plus packaging and transport, to ensure the health of the collection area, sustainable use of the marine aquarium fishery and optimal health of the harvested organisms.

□ The Handling, Husbandry and Transport Core Standard: addresses the handling of marine life forms during export, import and retail to ensure their optimal health, their segregation from uncertified organisms and proper documentation to show that they pass only from one MAC-certified industry operator to another.

The Core Standards are accompanied by Best Practice Guidance documents that provide advice to industry operators on how they might be able to comply with the standards.

This programme is not without cost to participating companies, which initially will have to pay fees to an independent certification authority as well as to MAC. In the future, MAC certification hopes to develop into a largely self-financed system, based on superior economic returns from certified marine ornamentals through the industry's as well as the consumer's willingness to pay a premium for marine organisms of demonstrable quality30. A list of companies that are seeking to be certified or already sell certified marine organisms is available from: www.aquariumcouncil.org

Another important aspect of this certification programme is the establishment of a monitoring system within collection areas to ensure early detection of any changes to fish populations resulting from collection for the trade. ReefCheck, a non-profit community-based coral reef education and monitoring organization, developed this monitoring system, entitled the Marine Aquarium Trade Coral Reef Monitoring Protocol (MAQTRAC), in conjunction with MAC. MAQTRAC was tested in the field in the Philippines, Indonesia, Fiji, Hawaii and the Maldives from summer 2001 through spring 2002.

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