Serious business regarding the viability of our hobby

prattreef

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Please read.....

This is not a joke, and without informed hobbyist and industry support, changes many of us are not going to like will become law. Righteous indignation is not an adequate response, nor is denying there are problems within the industry.

If there is serious enough interest on the board I can likely arrange for someone informed on the issues to join us for a discussion.


Letter to MASNA ( Marine Aquarium Societies of North America)- This is a republication of a PDF-formatted email being circulated throughout the industry.

PET INDUSTRY JOINT
ADVISORY COUNCIL
1146 19th Street, N.W., Ste 350
Washington, DC 20036
Tel: 202-452-1525
Fax: 202-452-1516

MEMORANDUM

To: MASNA
From: Aquatics Committee
Sandy Moore, Co-Chair
Chris Buerner, Co-Chair
Julian Sprung
Dustin Dorton
Kevin Kohen
Laura Reid

Date: September 8, 2014

Do you love corals?

Following a 2009 petition from the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) to list 83 reef-building coral species for protection under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA), on August 28, 2014, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) listed 20 species of corals as threatened species. The final listing includes 5 coral species from the Caribbean, and 15 Indo-Pacific coral species from the genera Acropora, Euphyllia, Montipora, Pavona, Porites, and Seriatopora.

NMFS had originally proposed to list 66 reef-building species as threatened and endangered in December, 2012. However, based upon substantial scientific information submitted by the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC) and other parties, NMFS determined only 20 of these species warranted listing as threatened species. Such scientific information included the submission of a scientific report developed by Dr. Charlie Veron, a world-renowned coral expert. PIJAC participated in the development of Dr. Veron?s work, and provided financial support enabling completion of this work.

In its final listing determination, NMFS elected not to apply the general ESA Section 9 ?take? prohibitions to the newly-listed species. The term ?take? is broadly defined to include a range of actions, including harassing, harming, injuring or killing a listed species. Instead, NMFS solicited comments regarding the appropriate scope of ESA Section 9 regulations, and indicated that it will consult with federal agencies and other partners to develop appropriate recovery strategies for the species.

PIJAC believes it likely that NMFS will apply the ESA Section 9 ?take? prohibitions to the newly-listed coral species in the near future, consistent with prior agency actions. Application of these take prohibitions by NMFS could severely restrict or eliminate trade in these species. Such prohibitions may apply to both corals in the wild, as well as farm-raised corals. Such actions would be devastating to the marine aquarium hobby. Aquarium conferences, retail stores, wholesale suppliers, and coral farms would see an immediate direct impact, while manufacturers, dry goods suppliers, and mail order pet suppliers would experience the resulting loss of business too.

While we await further regulatory actions, anti-aquarium organizations will surely strive to create a social stigma for the aquarium industry by claiming, for example, that we are ?trafficking in threatened and endangered species.? The emotion surrounding the subject will likely inflame public opinion and could motivate NMFS and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to enact stricter importation rules on all corals.

NMFS? action to list these species was driven by a petition filed by CBD. CBD indicated in its petition that climate change presents a significant risk for these species, requiring listing of these species under the ESA. CBD, effectively, is attempting to use the ESA as a tool to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. NMFS, likewise, relied on the effects of climate change to justify listing these 20 species. However, scientific information developed by world-renowned scientists indicate that none of the 20 listed coral species warrant listing under the ESA. These experts have stated in recent comments that NMFS? final rule is not supported by the best available scientific information.

The Solution

PIJAC acted quickly to provide the best available scientific information to NMFS in response to CBD?s petition to list corals. PIJAC?s efforts are largely responsible for the dramatic reduction in the number of species listed, and the fact that none of these species were listed as endangered. But that is not enough. PIJAC must continue to work with the scientific community to develop and submit scientific information regarding marine species. PIJAC must also remain engaged in the legal and policy issues arising now that these 20 coral species have been listed by NMFS under the ESA.

This is a time consuming and expensive process, and it requires your support. All funds donated to PIJAC?s Aquatic Defense Fund will be directed toward either this specific process, or other existing antiaquarium campaigns.

Many eminent coral reef scientists are dismayed by the listing. ESA take prohibitions may be at odds with the best plan for the recovery of any coral species that might ever need a recovery plan? coral farming and restoration. ESA prohibitions may dramatically limit or eliminate conservation and education programs.

Please support PIJAC?s effort to defend our hobby against this and other actions including ones that aim directly to shut down our hobby. You can do so by making a donation, small or large, here:
www.pijac.org/marine.

Inspire your friends, your pet store, your aquarium club to do the same.

If you have any questions for PIJAC, contact marshall@pijac.org.
 

rookie07

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Randy,

I must say, given how much is taken out of the ocean, I'm for some serious reform! I'm not saying I agree with the current stances, but I am saying that we are ravaging the oceans. It scares me to look on ebay or in stores at how many corals they have coming in weekly, if the small percentage that I see is 100's of corals weekly, what is happening worldwide?!?!

I think that at some point only aquacultured coral (and perhaps maricultured) coral should be for sale, anywhere. I get that the problem is that "they" are trying to stop aqua & mari culturing various other important issues.

Now, I get that the above misses the point entirely when it comes to the importance of aqua/mariculture-ing corals, but it's got some merit to it, by above I mean the other side of the above argument. I do believe that coral farming for reseeding the oceans and for hobbyist is vital! The same applies for fish.

PS, I will be donating to them.
 
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Waleedwale1

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Randy,

I must say, given how much is taken out of the ocean, I'm for some serious reform! I'm not saying I agree with the current stances, but I am saying that we are ravaging the oceans. It scares me to look on ebay or in stores at how many corals they have coming in weekly, if the small percentage that I see is 100's of corals weekly, what is happening worldwide?!?!

I think that at some point only aquacultured coral (and perhaps maricultured) coral should be for sale, anywhere. I get that the problem is that "they" are trying to stop aqua & mari culturing various other important issues.

Now, I get that the above misses the point entirely when it comes to the importance of aqua/mariculture-ing corals, but it's got some merit to it, by above I mean the other side of the above argument. I do believe that coral farming for reseeding the oceans and for hobbyist is vital! The same applies for fish.

PS, I will be donating to them.

+1
There needs to be a lot more aquaculture.
 

prattreef

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Phil, You don't need to convince me that the industry needs reform and IMO regulation, but it needs to be data based, and ideally self-imposed. What is happening right now is that the aquarium trade is simply collateral damage in a much bigger game and the instruments of regulation that the ESA employs are not designed to address aquaculture or mari -culture and are far too blunt to accommodate exceptions. If there is credible scientific evidence to list something as endangered, so be it and we as an industry should support these decisions.

With appropriate reforms and regulations I think the hobby has something positive to offer to conservation of the reefs. But the hobby/ industry is very immature in terms of organizational structures and self-governing bodies to help set standards and goals and best practices etc. AND educate and convince hobbyists to support them. If we don't get our own house in order, it is going to be put in order for us or effectively shut down.

These are complex, nuanced issues and we as a community need to discuss them. I'm no expert on these matters, but I do have access to people who are. If anyone is interested.....
 

rookie07

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Self regulation only does the bare minimum to prevent actual regulation, self regulation is BS and only done to appease someone or something.... With that said, I'm not sure we're a hobby worth saving! The research, educational and potential reef saving that could happen from aqua/mari culture-ing is of the utmost importance though!
Let me be clear, I LOVE THIS HOBBY!!! The enjoyment I get from thinking about, planning, starting, maintaing and just plain watching my tank is higher than almost every other thing I have ever done, but if it uses a lot of energy, creates waste and pollution, and in no way actually helps the world.... Is it worth it?

I question the harm my tank (and all of our's) does to the world on a weekly basis. Is my aquarium ultimately harming the ocean, the thing I claim to love the most behind my fianc? in this world, by using energy, having stuff shipped from all over the world and wasting water/etc?

I just don't know if the hobbyist tank is worth saving. It saddens me to write this, but It may he true.
The best evidence that I can give of this is, a thread about removing bristleworms has 12 responses and this thread has 4!!!! It is pathetic that a thread of this importance is virtually ignored and a silly thread like that has been given more attention. despicable!

I agree that any change that will happen should be made based on data and actual evidence in order to make the best decision and have the best outcome.
 
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Weicowireman

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Well we can all do our part by limiting the amount of corals we purchase from around the globe and stick to purchasing aqua cultured frags from our fellow reefers. Or maybe we can all donate funds and start our own aquaculture facility.
 

Waleedwale1

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The issue that I see is that a lot of people don't really care where the coral is from as long as it's cheap, this in turn encourages vendors to get wild corals to increase their profits, an Indo colony costs the same as an ORA frag and could be chopped into 10 frags. Personally I think ORA is one of the best things to happen to this hobby.
 

jackson6745

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You will not get sound science from NMFS. I just hope they don't blame it on "climate change" :(

Randy if your experts could post on the matter I would be eager to read what they say. I don't have a full understanding of what's exactly happing, but I have been dealing with regulation from the NMFS for many years at my job. They have a lot of power, and IMO agendas that always follow some kind of $$$. My opinion is obviously bias so I choose not to post much on this thread (or others), but I am reading every post about the matter on all the reef boards that I frequent.
 

BioMan

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I want to get involved. ..I remind myself everyday that 12,000 gallons of nuclear waste water is still leaking over in Japan for how long, 2 years now? One of the governments should allow a large facility to grow out some of these endangered coral species. In my mind it shouldn't have gotten this far to begin with, we're not trying to get a couple of pandas to make "whoopie" we're trying to reestablish a plant! (Do you ever see Marijuana going on the endangered list. ..) what can I do?
 

Thales

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You will not get sound science from NMFS. I just hope they don't blame it on "climate change" :(

Randy if your experts could post on the matter I would be eager to read what they say. I don't have a full understanding of what's exactly happing, but I have been dealing with regulation from the NMFS for many years at my job. They have a lot of power, and IMO agendas that always follow some kind of $$$. My opinion is obviously bias so I choose not to post much on this thread (or others), but I am reading every post about the matter on all the reef boards that I frequent.
I worry you won't like what we have to say based on your putting 'climate change' in quotes (I put it in half quotes because we need to define it before we can actually talk about it).
 

Widdy

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Self regulation only does the bare minimum to prevent actual regulation, self regulation is BS and only done to appease someone or something.... With that said, I'm not sure we're a hobby worth saving!
+1 on self regulations.

The short 6 years I've been in the hobby, methods and equipment has come and gone. New methods to the hobby has been introduced, and some debunked. However, there is one constant. The increased amount of corals bought in by retailers/vendors. It was pretty prestigious for a vendor to bring in 4-5 boxes/week of corals in 2005, up to 30 boxes/week today -- this observed within my visibility.

One could say the hobby has expanded thus creating a much greater demand. Possible. Personally, I think there was a breakdown in the supply chain. The crash of 2008 put many onto the curb. The hobby took a pretty big punch in the gut, wholesalers started to stockpile inventory with no outlet; forcing their hand to unload to casual hobbyists on the cheap. This created a whole new monster, and it gets hungry - fast! People sat home collecting unemployment, staring at their tanks. Off into their peripheral vision past the reflection from their MH lights, dollar signs started bouncing around.

I remember SDC and several big suppliers requiring an ample amount of documentation supporting one's business before they'll deal. This included EINs, some form of incorporation, pictures of your brick and mortar storefront, $500,000 cashflow (I made up the last one, I think that was Dunkin Donuts' requirement). Today, I'm not sure if one needs to supply even their SSN#. Armed with a Paypal account anyone can be the next coral entrepreneur.

Fix the supply chain, and it'll curb some of the demand. However, the cat is out of that bag. Unless these wholesalers/transhippers are hippie tree huggers that'll put Mother Nature in the forefront, the income column of their spreadsheets is just to hard to ignore.

rookie07 said:
The best evidence that I can give of this is, a thread about removing bristleworms has 12 responses and this thread has 4!!!! It is pathetic that a thread of this importance is virtually ignored and a silly thread like that has been given more attention. despicable!
Try pouring a 5g tank of ice and water on your head and post it Facebook. Heard that might work. :happysad:
 

Thales

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It is important to distinguish the rule making and leglisative work that PIJAC is doing from the stuff that Snorkel Bob is promoting. NOAA and NMFS and even CBD don't actually care much if at all about the hobby. They are doing what they can to try to protect reef life and their agenda is not to stop the hobby - that possibility is an unfortunate side effect. This, though newer info on PIJAC is now available, is a great read: http://rettalbot.wordpress.com/2014/09/08/how-polarizing-the-clownfish-esa-listing-causes-everyone-to-lose/

This has all been building for over 10 years and the hobby and industry has ignored it, or trashed people that have been trying to do things about it. There is no real 'industry', rather a bunch of people/compaines that do kind of the same thing - there is no unity and no trade organization and really no hobby organization. As I said, anyone who has tried to make one gets shredded. AMDA, MAC all were demonized. I sadly have no idea what to do about that besides keep talking and hope something happens.

More about what I think is in two articles in the recent edition of reefs magazine

http://www.reefsmagazine.com/forum/reefs-magazine/170078-why-point-origin-matters.html

and

http://www.reefsmagazine.com/forum/reefs-magazine/170094-skeptical-reefkeeping-xi-ethics-animal-selection.html
 
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Cu455

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IIn my mind it shouldn't have gotten this far to begin with, we're not trying to get a couple of pandas to make "whoopie" we're trying to reestablish a plant! (Do you ever see Marijuana going on the endangered list. ..) what can I do?
Coral are part of the animal kingdom not plant.
 

Thales

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It is also important to distinguish between endangered in the wild and endangered in the trade. Two very different things.
 

NL146

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I contributed but this is a complex situation. The site describes its goal as to protect the right to responsibly enjoy the hobby. Is it that the aquarium trade is too fragmented to have political influence? Who determines what passes for "responsibly?" Obviously I support sustainability. Also, while collection methods may be questionable I wonder what the rationale would be for applying the same rigorous requirements on aquaculture.
 

prattreef

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I contributed but this is a complex situation. The site describes its goal as to protect the right to responsibly enjoy the hobby. Is it that the aquarium trade is too fragmented to have political influence? Who determines what passes for "responsibly?" Obviously I support sustainability. Also, while collection methods may be questionable I wonder what the rationale would be for applying the same rigorous requirements on aquaculture.
Yes it is complex. And yes, the hobby is very poorly organized when it comes to advocacy--PIJAC is really all there is-- and traditionally very reluctant to hold itself accountable for its own problems. The threat to aquaculture efforts is the unfortunate result of ESA regulations that are not designed to accommodate "alternative" sources of animals. The laws as written see endangered animals as endangered regardless of where they come from and anything designated as such will be illegal to buy, sell, trade or even own. The reason the laws are written this way is that it is just too hard to prove where an animals comes from.
 
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Cu455

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There is a guy, he goes by krg-1168 on different forums. He stresses the need of captive breeding due to future restrictions, but with sharks. He compares it to parrot keeping in the 70's and 80's. Parrots, sharks or coral it has the same idea behind it.

This is a post of his from 2007.

I'm not sure people have thought about the future of shark husbandary.

But I for one am starting to interesting parallels with between what's happening today with private sharks/rays keepers versus what happened about to private Parrot owners about 30-35 years ago.

Allow me to explain.

As example - I start by telling you what happened in the Parrot Trade about 20-30 years ago.

About 30-35 years again the mid to late 70's - parrots became very "fashionable" to own - and we're heavily imported from Africa, Australia, Central & South America. Also quite a few large Parrot breeders started to spring up around this time. About 15-20 years large scale importation was halted by many international goverments including U.S., Canada, U.K., & most the European nations. Due to the fact that the large scale importation of many parrot species in the 70's to mid 80's had drop the wild poplations of many species to dangerously low levels. Still during this same time(late 80's -early 90's) - there was also dramatic increasing in the number parrots being held for breeding stock - by private keepers. In some species there was virtually as many breeders in the U.S. as there was total birds in the wild. As a result virtually every parrot sold in any pet stop in captive breed & raised.

I know you're all asking how does what happen with the Parrot trade, have any thing to do with sharks, or breeding sharks.

Right now - we are starting to see large increase in the number of new shark keepers. With most shark species in decline. We are currently in almost exactly the same situation that happen in the Parrot trade about 25-30 years ago. Also many of the species that are best suited for home aquaria, have fairly limited ranges in the wild. So it's almost a certainty that in the next 10-20 years - we may see the end of large scale importation of many species of sharks, for private ownership. Or at very least major restrictions imposed. As some species may start to become threatened or even endangered species.

The logical solution is captive breeding programs for sharks & rays by anyone who is willing, able and has the neccesary room. This will help insure that future shark/ray keepers may have enough sharks or rays to meet the public demand. And maybe help save a few species in the process.
 

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