Coastal Fisheries Programme

Number 17 - November 2007

Editor and Group Coordinator: Tom Graham, PO Box 235, Honolulu, HI 96809 USA. Phone/fax: +1 (808) 625 8755

Production: Information Section, Marine Resources Division, SPC, PO BOX D5, 98848 Noumea Cedex, New Caledonia Fax (687) 263818)

Prepared with financial assistance from Australia, France and New Zealand.

Editor's note

Three articles in this bulletin focus on the marine ornamentals trade. Together, they give an absorbing around-the-world tour of the trade, from the day-to-day lives of collectors in small fishing villages in the Indo-Pacific to the buying habits of aquarium hobbyists in the United States.

First, Gilles Lecaillon and Sven Michel Lourié report on recent developments in collecting and using post-larval reef fish, that is, young fish collected just before they settle on reefs. They describe the latest post-larval collection and grow-out methods and how they are being applied in the Indo-Pacific. They are optimistic that these methods can be used to produce fish for the aquarium trade and other purposes, but they cite further research and outreach that will be needed to make that happen.

Next, Gayatri Reksodihardjo-Lilley and Ron Lilley take a close look at the supply side of the ornamentals trade through a case study of fishing communities in north Bali. They describe the fishing patterns and working conditions of collectors, as well as the very interesting business dynamics among collectors and the series of buyers up to the point of export. They conclude that reform of Indonesia's aquarium fish industry is needed, and that a fundamental step would be to get players near the demand side of the trade, including importers and exporters, to work more closely with collectors to improve working conditions, the quality of the product and reef management.

Shifting to the demand side of the marine ornamentals trade, Breck Mc-Collum examines the perspectives and preferences of marine aquarium hobbyists in the United States. Like Reksodihardjo-Lilley and Lilley, she takes it as a given that reform of the trade is needed to safeguard the resource and to improve the lot of collectors. She finds that the information available to hobbyists and the general public pays little attention to the negative environmental and health impacts of the trade, and that improving the public discourse about those issues is fundamental to shifting consumers' preferences and consequently forcing needed changes at the supply end of the trade.

This bulletin includes two articles devoted to the trade in live reef food fish. Noel Chan and Brian Johnston describe the results of a "blind" taste test in Hong Kong in which participants tried to discern between wildcaught and cultured forms of the popular live food fish species, humpback grouper (Cromileptes altivelis). There was a general preference for the colour, taste and texture of the wild product, but the cultured product was found to be highly acceptable, and the authors find this to bode well for the widespread commercial acceptance of cultured products in the future.

Helen Scales and co-authors examine the trade in live reef food fish from two different perspectives. First, they analyse a long time series of Hong Kong import data and find disturbing patterns in the geographical expansion of the trade, boom-bust patterns of fishery development among supply countries, and “fishing down the price list”. Second, with the help of detailed records maintained by fish traders, they take a close-up look at the fishery for live reef food fish in northern Borneo and find evidence of marked and fairly rapid declines in the target fish stocks.

Writing about both ornamentals and food fish, Being Yeeting provides a history of live fish fisheries in the Pacific Islands region and an update of the activities of SPC’s Regional Live Reef Fish Trade Initiative, which is aimed at improving the management of both types of fisheries.

The publications section at the end of the bulletin includes a reference to the proceedings of a workshop last year on the economic and marketing aspects of the live reef food fish trade. An overview of the workshop, by Brian Johnston, is reprinted here in full. It gives an overview of the three-year ACIAR-funded research project (which the workshop was a part of) and summarizes the many papers presented at the workshop.

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Current status of marine post-larval collection: Existing tools, initial results, market opportunities and prospects
Lecaillon G., Lourié S.M. (pdf: 231 KB)
Towards a sustainable marine aquarium trade: An Indonesian perspective
Reksodihardjo-Lilley G., Lilley R. (pdf: 106 KB)
Consumer perspectives on the "web of causality" within the marine aquarium fish trade
McCollum B.A. (pdf: 102 KB)
Applying the triangle taste test to wild and cultured humpback grouper (Cromileptes altivelis) in the Hong Kong market
Chan N.W.W., Johnston B. (pdf: 165 KB)
Monitoring the live reef food fish trade: Lessons learned from local and global perspectives
Scales H., Balmford A., Manica A. (pdf: 251 KB)
The live reef fish trade in the Pacific: A look at recent trends and developments
Yeeting B.M. (pdf: 630 KB)

News and events ()

Noteworthy publications ()


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Live Reef Fish #17 (pdf: )

The views expressed in this Bulletin are those of the authors and are not necessarily
shared by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community


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