"Want to Conserve" Importance of Aquaculture/Wild Fisheries

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"Want to Conserve" Importance of Aquaculture/Wild Fisheries

Postby spawner » Wed Apr 21, 2010 12:10 pm

I would like to start a discussion about the need for us to ensure we are supportive of wild fisheries that are benefiting natural ecosystems. It is wrong to think of it as easy as just aquaculture species and thus we are conserving reefs. If wild fisheries like this are properly managed then it has a larger conservation impact than aquaculture. In fact aquaculture can often have a negative impact if livelihoods are taken away from a sustainable fishery and these fisherman start collecting grouper or other food fish with destructive fishing methods.

The best example is a fishery saving a rain forest. If remove this fishery by captive production we take away the incentive for these fisherman to protect their resource from loggers.

http://www.neaq.org/conservation_and_re ... _piaba.php


I think we should develop a more complex solution to put forward. Its nice to think about it as easy as just culture culture culture, but its not that simple.

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Re: "Want to Conserve" Importance of Aquaculture/Wild Fisher

Postby BaboonScience » Fri Apr 30, 2010 9:09 pm

Sure, I believe that the discussion is worthwhile. We have seen that sustainable ornamental fisheries are possible. Captive breeding is in no way ready to replace anything but a small fraction of the wild caught fisheries. I do have concerns with the ability of specific areas to follow practical guidelines, even when trained to do so, as long as more invasive techniques will deliver a higher net.
These and other discussion points are definitely worth discussing.
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Re: "Want to Conserve" Importance of Aquaculture/Wild Fisher

Postby Kmiec123 » Sat May 01, 2010 9:31 am

Andy, Did you want this discussion to take place in the open forums? I agree it is a great topic for discussion.
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Re: "Want to Conserve" Importance of Aquaculture/Wild Fisher

Postby spawner » Sat May 01, 2010 10:31 pm

Carl that is fine with me. Here is a link to some of our info at NEAq on the topic.

http://www.neaq.org/conservation_and_re ... iative.php

http://www.neaq.org/conservation_and_re ... _piaba.php
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Re: "Want to Conserve" Importance of Aquaculture/Wild Fisher

Postby Kmiec123 » Sun May 02, 2010 11:17 am

I moved this to the discussion forum Andy and will look over your links, thanks for posting this.
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Re: "Want to Conserve" Importance of Aquaculture/Wild Fisher

Postby Midnight Angel » Sun May 02, 2010 7:00 pm

Great post Andy :!: I wish all the people out there that are against us collecting fish could see this and how good can come of it.


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Re: "Want to Conserve" Importance of Aquaculture/Wild Fisher

Postby aomont » Mon May 03, 2010 4:57 pm

Really interesting topic Andy.
spawner wrote:In fact aquaculture can often have a negative impact if livelihoods are taken away from a sustainable fishery and these fisherman start collecting grouper or other food fish with destructive fishing methods.

Besides the social impact, how common is the negative impact of aquaculture regarding its waste water ?
I´ve heard/read about nutrient rich waste water causing algal blooms locally and negatively affecting local environment. Specifically the example used were shrimp farms in NE Brazil and Asia as well as fish pen farms worldwide.
How relevant this kind of impact may be ?
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Re: "Want to Conserve" Importance of Aquaculture/Wild Fisher

Postby spawner » Mon May 03, 2010 9:03 pm

Anderson,

For ornamental production its likely to never be an issue.

For shrimp farms producing millions post-larvae a month or tons of shrimp in ponds. Discharges can have massive local effects or can be management in a manner that has little effect.

Its the same with any agricultural enterprise. Intensive production often produces lots of waste in a small area.

The benefit of well managed wild fisheries such as those in the Rio Negro is that they protect habitat at very little cost in terms of biomass. Any aquaculture production that threatens that protection endangers the region.

Hence the title Tlusty's paper. Small scale of production does not automatically mean small scale of impact.
http://www.neaq.org/conservation_and_re ... f/11__.pdf
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Re: "Want to Conserve" Importance of Aquaculture/Wild Fisher

Postby spawner » Mon Jul 12, 2010 9:58 pm

In response to Matt's comments on Reef Builders : http://reefbuilders.com/2010/07/12/sust ... oom-take2/

Conservation and ex-situ Preservation are NOT synonymous terms.

Interpretation of my position being a one sided issue are incorrect.

If one is promoting conservation of wild reefs then one cannot simply say that aquaculture delivers said conservation. I speak nothing in regards to the preservation of species ex-situ. I take no position on the preservation of species ex-situ.

My post was a simple point, conservation of wild reefs is a complex issue with no single answer. Far too often professionals, as I am and have, involved in ornamental aquaculture, reach into the conservation bag with little justification.

In fact the captive production of the cardinal tetra and species that are collected in the Rio Negro can be part of the problem and the freshwater industry needs to support wild fisheries such as this. This was the point of my post, both aquaculture and wild fisheries are needed. It's not all aquaculture all the time solution. It's complex. We have failed if we can not protect wild habitats and support those that benefit these habitats. I would hope that the recent efforts PNG and others might provide a marine example of conservation through the marine aquarium industry. This is the major point of our recent paper; the US must meet its responsibility to support sustainable fisheries and reduce its impacts on coral reefs caused by the trade in coral reef species (not just aquarium related).

I would suggest anyone interesting in this topic read up on the Cardinal Tetra story and work by the New England Aquarium in related topics. The Aquarium has long been a supporter of this fishery and of responsible aquaculture.

Tlusty MF. 2001. The benefits and risk of aquaculture production for the aquarium trade. Aquaculture 205: 203-219

http://www.neaq.org/conservation_and_re ... f/11__.pdf

http://en.microcosmaquariumexplorer.com ... ave_A_Tree

This is an important discussion to be had.
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Re: "Want to Conserve" Importance of Aquaculture/Wild Fisher

Postby mpedersen » Mon Jul 12, 2010 11:12 pm

Thanks for the response Andy. Wish you had posted it on Reef Builders where the article was published.

I think the brunt of what I'm trying to get across is this. In your initial post, you argue against captive breeding because it hampers sustainability effort and the intrinsic benefits of such efforts. I'm arguing (and all but explicitly saying) that no matter what we do from a standpoint of sustainability + coral reefs, we are too far gone due to the ravages of climate change and man's at-large impact on the planet. There will likely come a time when the only "sustainable trade" is "no trade". Condemning captive breeding in the name of promoting sustainable collection is a highly tenuous stance.

If you can step aside from the short term issues, you should realize that no matter what you do from a conservation/sustainability standpoint, we are currently "destined to fail". In Situ preservation at this point, given what we do know, seems to be an impossibility. This is never talked about when promoting "sustainability". If you acknowledge this "dirty little secret", the fatal flaw in sustainable harvest as a mechanism for "preservation", then you must open up to other possibilities. The game of "conservation" changes. Thus, "conservation" ultimately means, and must incorporate, ex-situ preservation, because it's the only currently viable method of long-term preservation given the facts at hand.

Thus, sustainable collection needs to take a more appropriate place in the conservation toolbox, providing for an extended timeline by hopefully reducing our impact and putting a good face on our industry, thus pushing off the impending shutdown we will likely one day see. It's happened to birds, it's happened to individual species, and whether we like it or not, at some point, it will probably happen with ALL wild caught marine life. Which is why I chose to concede that while not fully "wrong", your position is "shortsighted". Sure, in the next 5 years, your position holds merit. It's when you extend the timeline to 10, 20 or 50 years, that your position falls apart. Sustainability, at this point in time, is a stop-gap, not the final answer.

I am 110% for sustainable projects, but not at the expense or vilification of captive breeding in the process. They need to work together. My article illustrates a way in which they can.

As for the example of Cardinal Tetras, you are talking about a far more localized issue, and not the global ocean problems. The simple truth is that even the Cardinal Tetra program cannot stop shifts in rainfall and temperature patterns that could ultimately lead to a river drying up or becoming uninhabitable. The situations are not analogous. If the Amazon dries up, no sustainable trade is going to save the Cardinal Tetra.

- For the record, the original article was written far earlier, prior to Andy's election to the BOD. It sat for a while while we mulled it over and refined it, and it seemed more appropriate to publish given the current paper published by Rhyne et. al.

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Re: "Want to Conserve" Importance of Aquaculture/Wild Fisher

Postby aomont » Tue Jul 13, 2010 12:19 am

mpedersen wrote:I am 110% for sustainable projects, but not at the expense or vilification of captive breeding in the process. They need to work together. My article illustrates a way in which they can.


I did not read Andy statement as vilification of captive breeding, Matt.
I also read conservation of coral reefs as "in situ preservation". With that in mind, captive breeding is not that much linked to conservation as is sustainable harvest. So, telling we are conserving reefs because we are breeding fishes in captivity is not accurate.

Can captive breeding and sustainable harvest be apart if we intend to (1)supply the market, (2)conserve coral reefs and (3)preserve the more species (or populations) as we can ? I don't think so, neither do you and neither do Andy from what I can read.
Is ex-situ species preservation important and playing a role in these objectives ? I think so (specially in 1 and 3), I know you do but, although I think he does, Andy has not posted his opinion about it (although a side topic Andy, I would like to know your opinion about this too).

I like your suggestion on how sustainable harvest can supply the captive propagation ventures but I do not see it working that well in the long run if they rely only in this share of the market.
Of course breeders or varieties collectors (like collecting stamps, I mean) will value these fishes the much they are worth but the net gain would not be the same. Making a comparison to the freshwater fishes, buying wild caught broodstock for established species in the trade is not that common for many species today. Many of the wild caught freshwater fishes are sold to home aquariums. Also, sometimes, fancy varieties are preferred over wild type ones.
So, in the long run, selling wild caught fish to breeders as broodstocks can sure be part of their market but I see it as a uncertain one that may burst for some species but will eventually shrink.
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Re: "Want to Conserve" Importance of Aquaculture/Wild Fisher

Postby mpedersen » Tue Jul 13, 2010 1:24 am

aomont wrote:telling we are conserving reefs because we are breeding fishes in captivity is not accurate.


Neither is suggesting that sustainable harvest is conserving coral reefs in face of the "real" threats to reefs.

It's really much more simple than Andy would like to make it out, so here it is, in black and white. Something I edited out of the article and perhaps shouldn't have.

If you do not believe the science of climate change and ocean acidification, or you believe that we are not that far away from rectifying these problems, it is EASY to get behind sustainable harvest as a means of creating vested interest in a resource that can be protected because darnit, it WILL actually work (if you're right about climate change and ocean acidification). But what about the next big problem?

However, if you accept the science and forecasts for the near (in our lifetime) future, or do not believe that mankind can make the necessary changes (which most say is no longer even possible) then no amount of sustainable harvest or vested interest can stop the "inevitable" from happening, and thus, sustainable harvest as a conservation method for wild reefs is a farce, because there technically is no way to conserve wild reefs if their fate is already sealed. What you cannot conserve in the wild, then must be conserved in captivity.

Andy can play semantics, but really, the goal of conservation is preservation. We're talking about the same thing. The only difference is where this conservation, aka. preservation, happens. What is the line in the sand where we stop further loss? I'm afraid that "in the wild" is simply not really a viable option anymore, and therefore strongly question the logic behind promoting something that science suggests may not be possible.

I'm all too willing to concede that currently, captive preservation for most species isn't possible either yet, but that's largely because we lack knowledge. We can obtain that knowledge if we get behind captive propagation and support it. Yes, in the end, BOTH efforts are in a race against time, but only sustainable harvest is a race of endurance where "success" isn't waiting at the finish line. The race for captive propagation however, CAN be won, but not if we continue to throw up obstacles to it. Andy's statements, to me, represent a BIG obstacle in the forwarding of captive propagation.

While "villainize" is a charged word, I chose it for a reason. Andy's argument proposes that captive breeding takes away their livelihood and causes them to opt for less sustainable, far more destructive ways of making a living. Thus, cause and effect, captive breeding could be considered responsible for forcing dynamite fishing (as Andy quietly drew the line). I can hardly think of a more "villainous" occupation than dynamite fishing coral reefs. To suggest that dynamite fishing could be caused by captive propagation does "villainize" captive propagation.

Andy's original arguments only attacked captive propagation in defense of sustainable harvest - he offered nothing in support of captive propagation nor suggested any possible solutions for how captive propagation can work in harmony with sustainable collection. My article sought to point out the flaws of relying too heavily on sustainable collection, and the perilous situation it puts is in to do so. I pointed out a better avenue of split demand with a net reduction, but not elimination, of the wild caught fish trade. The math is pretty darn simple. The less we harvest, the more we remove whatever pressures we ARE placing on the resource. If solely promoting sustainable harvest could buy the wild caught industry 5 years, then reducing volume of that industry by shifting demand might add on another 5 or even 10 years of lifespan before the "inevitable" happens because we're doing the "right thing" and truly minimizing our own direct impact.

Anderson, regarding the freshwater trade, I've seen figures that suggest that as much as 95% of the fish sold in shops are aquacultured / fish farmed. Yes, there is still a substantial trade in wild caught fish, but the freshwater trade on the whole is massively larger than the marine trade. With the amount of fish imported into the US from Asia (not to mention how many of those aren't native to Asia), it's pretty darn clear that fish farming is supplying the vast majority of fish on the freshwater side.

Having spent many years in the freshwater side as well (and even contemplating a new FW tank msyelf), I speak from experience when I say wild caught fish are treasured among breeders of quality fish, and especially those hobbyists who run small scale hatcheries dedicated to certain groups (i.e. Cichlids, Killifish, Rainbows etc). Maybe not so much in the "fish farm" world (but even they need to infuse fresh genes once in a while). Then again, it is not the "fish farm world" that will preserve every last species. No, it is still the hobbyists that preserve so much of the diversity. The Red Tailed Shark got lucky. How many large scale freshwater fishfarms produce fish like Haplochromis sp. "Flameback"? I'm going to guess the number is 0. Here's another species thought to be now extinct in the wild. As far as I am aware, it is not an actively preserved fish as part of the LVSSP (Lake Victoria Species Survival Program). The "Flameback Hap" is probably kept alive SOLELY by hobbyists who are dedicated to keeping fish like this. The sad truth is that some day, if the fish falls out of favor, it may silently disappear, finally lost, and most people in the world would never even know or care.

Now, we could argue about all the downsides to species preservation in captivity as a poor substitute for wild reefs, but I'll stop all that by saying this. What's better - having the species in captivity, or not having it at all? Ask the Bali Mynah (or the Red Tailed Shark!). Do we have to wait until every last coral and fish approaches the same fate as the Bali Mynah before we wake up and realize that WE are not the ones calling the shots in the world, and that we are not in control of the fate of coral reefs?

So let me end my two breeding related posts for the electoral year with this. How much of a gambler are you? If we bet on sustainable harvest at the expense of promoting captive breeding, what happens if we bet wrong? Which of the two - captive breeding or sustainable harvest, has higher odds of long-term species preservation? How much of a setback will we face if we allow ourselves to downplay captive breeding in the name of promoting sustainable harvest for the next 5 years? How much more time are we willing to lose in our efforts to fill in vast knowledge gaps?

Edit - I had to add this. Perhaps the most damning statement will be this. If we promote sustainability at the expensive of captive breeding, we risk shooting ourselves in the foot, big time. If we promote sustainability AND captive propagation, working in concert, we risk NOTHING, irregardless of climate change and ocean acidification. We cover our bases, and even if the whole climate change stuff turns out to be a farce, we're still doing the right thing either way. It's a LOT EASIER to advocate for a sustainable harvest in Cardinal Tetras when we also happen to know how to produce them in captivity should things go to sh*t in the wild. Can we say the same about our coral reefs?
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Re: "Want to Conserve" Importance of Aquaculture/Wild Fisher

Postby spawner » Tue Jul 13, 2010 7:02 am

Matt again, you misinterpret my post. My post was to start a discussion that for the
need for us [MOFIB] to ensure we are supportive of wild fisheries that are benefiting natural ecosystems.
. I think, your forgetting what I do for a living if you are assuming that I am against developing aquaculture techniques for new species. My post was made to get the community talking, to see that if they wish to use the word conservation, they must take into account that aquaculture of marine ornamentals does not always equal conservation. And no conservation of habitats is vastly different than ex-situ preservation of species. It's sad to read that you have completely lost hope for wild reefs.

The point of the cardinal tetra is not the preservation of a single species, but using an aquarium species to preserve habitat.

We must fine ways to help local management of reef resources in the face of global change. There are reefs that will persist for decades longer than others in the face of global change. We must support sustainable uses and not "death by a thousand cuts". There is a good body of recent literature supporting this.
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Re: "Want to Conserve" Importance of Aquaculture/Wild Fisher

Postby mpedersen » Tue Jul 13, 2010 12:07 pm

spawner wrote:Matt again, you misinterpret my post. My post was to start a discussion that for the
need for us [MOFIB] to ensure we are supportive of wild fisheries that are benefiting natural ecosystems.
.


Ah, but i didn't misinterpret your post. You didn't post your complete view or the whole story. I only responded to specifically what you posted.

spawner wrote:I think, your forgetting what I do for a living if you are assuming that I am against developing aquaculture techniques for new species. My post was made to get the community talking, to see that if they wish to use the word conservation, they must take into account that aquaculture of marine ornamentals does not always equal conservation. And no conservation of habitats is vastly different than ex-situ preservation of species.


Yes, it's true that preservation of a natural habitat is different, and more desirable, than only having nemo survive in aquariums. However, BOTH preserve the biodiversity and species to some extent.

spawner wrote:It's sad to read that you have completely lost hope for wild reefs.


I've lost hope for wild reefs because I've lost hope in humanity's ability to deal with the problems we're facing. I find comfort however, in the realization that if we don't lump all our eggs in one basket (sustainability), and instead find ways for sustainability and captive propagation to work together (which you asked for) then we cover our asses, we have a failsafe, and we at least have some form of preservation instead of risking that nothing makes it.

spawner wrote:The point of the cardinal tetra is not the preservation of a single species, but using an aquarium species to preserve habitat.


But the whole argument and example falls apart if the threats placed on the habitat of the natural species are OUTSIDE OF OUR CONTROL. That's the fatal flaw in this example and the logic. We can control and prevent logging. We cannot control and prevent severe drought or temperature shifts. That's why sustainability is only a stop-gap, a patch, a half measure. It is NOT ENOUGH. Still, you obviously miss my point about the program you're citing. If the Cardinal Tetra program were to fail due to forces outside of human control, we already know how to culture this (and many of the other species) associated with that habitat, at which point, we COULD recognize the failure and act to implement ex-situ preservation of much of the biodiversity that resides there. The same cannot be said for the massive biodiversity of coral reefs, so in their case, promoting sustainability at the expense of encouraging captive propagation in essence leaves you with only PLAN A, no failsafe PLAN B, and a big risk of long term failure. And thus, the reasons I choose to refer to your initial post as "short sighted".

spawner wrote:We must fine ways to help local management of reef resources in the face of global change. There are reefs that will persist for decades longer than others in the face of global change. We must support sustainable uses and not "death by a thousand cuts". There is a good body of recent literature supporting this.


And you know I am not arguing against sustainability at all. What I am arguing against is the specific and direct scapegoating of captive propagation as an excuse for why Sustainability Projects might fail. That was the premise of your initial post, and I have not seen you recapitulate that stance. Instead, you're saying I'm not understanding what conservation is, or reciting the same poor examples that aren't applicable.
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Re: "Want to Conserve" Importance of Aquaculture/Wild Fisher

Postby spawner » Wed Jul 14, 2010 2:28 am

Here was the complete and absolute premise of my original post

I would like to start a discussion about the need for us to ensure we are supportive of wild fisheries that are benefiting natural ecosystems......I think we should develop a more complex solution to put forward....
Complex being the key term here. You seem to read and I don't know how you can get this from my post, that I am suggesting that aquaculture has no place or is simply bad. You seem to think I was making a policy statement, which again, I cannot see how you get there from my post.

I'm happy that this discussion is moving forward, like I said in my post I would like to start a discussion... we need a more complex solution than just aquaculture.
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Re: "Want to Conserve" Importance of Aquaculture/Wild Fisher

Postby mpedersen » Wed Jul 14, 2010 10:53 am

spawner wrote:You seem to read and I don't know how you can get this from my post, that I am suggesting that aquaculture has no place or is simply bad. You seem to think I was making a policy statement, which again, I cannot see how you get there from my post.


Andy, read your own statement in its entirety. Your initial post only brings up aquaculture in a negative light. You write that a) it does not equate to conservation and b) that it can have a negative impact on sustainable harvest. Your initial post does not put captive propagation in any positive context. That has the implication that there isn't a positive context. Now, you've gone on to elaborate that ISN'T your position, but as Anderson has pointed out, you still have yet to really address your position on captive propagation / ex-situ preservation.

(edit - also, just a sidenote, when someone of your stature makes such a statement as above, it may very well be considered a "policy statement" even if you didn't intend it to be such. Afterall, you've just coauthored a paper calling for tighter regulation of our trade, and now you've made a public statement that, when standing on its own, suggests aquaculture is a problem. If someone from the NY Times reads only your first post, well...)

spawner wrote:I'm happy that this discussion is moving forward, like I said in my post I would like to start a discussion...


So far, all you've really said is that I've "misunderstood" you. If you'd like to have a genuine discussion, how about addressing the "fatal flaws" of sustainable harvest as I've proposed, both with your main example (the Cardinal Tetra project) as well as the topic at hand (sustainable harvest as a means of preserving coral reefs)? Because again, I think you and I can agree that conservation = preservation, and that in-situ is preferable, but ex-situ is better than "no-situ". It's one long continuum; to me, the last battle is the one to save all of this from true and total extinction. You might also directly address my proposed "teamwork" solution.

spawner wrote:we need a more complex solution than just aquaculture.


Again, on that we can agree, although at some point, I strongly believe in my gut that through regulation and restrictions, we one day WILL be left with ONLY aquaculture. It's happened in so many other similar areas that it is foolish to think it can't happen to us. I fear of the government doesn't do it, Ma Nature still might, and at some point, the ONLY sustainable harvest will be no harvest. With that in mind, I propose that "sustainable harvest" is the short term, buy us time portion of the equation, and at some point,the only thing we can do to conserve reefs (as it pertains to wild harvest) might be to stop wild harvest all together (at which point, "aquaculture species" IS "thus we are conserving reefs"). (edit) Let me also argue that this discussion comes not only from a standpoint of saving / preserving whatever we can of wild reefs and natural biodiversity (which is why I'm against hybrids / guppification at this point in time), but this discussion also must consider the hobby and industry we may "need to save".
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Re: "Want to Conserve" Importance of Aquaculture/Wild Fisher

Postby spawner » Thu Jul 15, 2010 11:21 am

Matt,

I'm in Baja Sur right now so this will have to wait for a few weeks.

But quickly, you should read nothing into what I write. I asked for a discussion because I like to discuss topics like this, generally from what I have seen hobbyists are completely unaware of the linkage between conservation of natural environments and preservation of their hobby. I for one am not very interested in keeping glass boxes and ignoring the communities that supply them. Cruz changed my outlook 10 years ago. No matter what the long term out look is. You should get to know some of the fisherman over in the island countries....

Conservation of natural ecosystems and preservation of an industry are vastly different, but can be linked if attention is paid. I can tell you this fact, if certain folks out there reading your blog and these posts felt that the hobby was not interested in conservation of natural ecosystems and we were not trying to get the hobby moved into that direction, wild imports would be over long before the other CO2 problem is an issue. We are on very thin ice because we have done literally nothing to change the major problems afflicting this hobby, they are much like cancers.

I'm happy to discuss the recent paper, and yes, we need regulations, those importers, wholesalers, retailers, etailers, hobbyist that are concerned about the long term future of our hobby would also agree with that.
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Re: "Want to Conserve" Importance of Aquaculture/Wild Fisher

Postby mpedersen » Thu Jul 15, 2010 12:47 pm

Andy, respectfully, asking for a discussion, I provided you with very direct questions, and I will wait for those answers. Baja Sur or not, it seems like you're dancing around the issue and speaking in generalizations, refusing to actually get down and dirty and address my legitimate concerns about "sustainability" as a mechanism to conserve AND thusly preserve wild reefs (and the biodiversity that constitutes them).

On one point above I can again agree. I said it at Fragfest, I said it at IMAC West, and I'll say it here again. The Aquarium Industry is a LUXURY in this world, and thus, we are the easiest scapegoat and the first that will get the axe long before we start seeing reef extinctions due to climate or CO2. I believe that no amount of "good will" and "good intentions" is going to stop that, and frankly I do worry that drawing extra attention to the aquarium industry just highlights the ease at which it can be scapegoated, especially when the whistleblowers seem to be coming from within. But again, that is not what I wanted to talk about, the papers you coauthored were not the subject of my article, and not what I criticized about your initial comments. I'll defer to my earlier direct comments and questions about the "fatal flaw" of sustainability. Ret Talbot has an answer about those "flaws", why don't you?

- edit - BTW, I agree that we can make the comparison that in-situ preservation is like preserving a historic house, whereas ex-situ preservation would be like taking apart that house and reassembling various rooms from that house in museums around the world. One is certainly "preferable". But it seems that one is not possible in the long term..i.e. in my analogy, the house is perched on a coastal cliff that one day we know will erode away....
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Re: "Want to Conserve" Importance of Aquaculture/Wild Fisher

Postby Greshamh » Thu Jul 15, 2010 2:07 pm

spawner wrote:Matt,

I'm in Baja Sur right now so this will have to wait for a few weeks.



Well since you mentioned Cruz, the guy who gave him a restart in the trade just happens to be down in Baja right now. You should stop by the village and see what 30 years of truly sustainable collections is about :D
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Re: "Want to Conserve" Importance of Aquaculture/Wild Fisher

Postby spawner » Thu Jul 22, 2010 4:15 pm

Matt,

You need to develop a deeper understanding of the issues facing reef communities. There are short and long term issues. Reefs today are mostly affected by direct human activities, not global issues. In fact, very remote reefs have shown the ability to be very resilience in the face of stresses such as increasing water temperatures, as long as communities are intact. Without addressing the human populations that are using these resources at a local level we only increase the damage and reduce the ability of the system to acclimate to changing conditions. Ret's article is another good summary of the need for this sort of effort. Tlusty, Dowd and others have been working to get traction for this sort of effort in the freshwater community for decades. These efforts have been largely ignored by the industry and commerical producers of fish, that is a simply fact.

No one can suggest that they are going to sustain ecosystems without sustaining the communities that use the resources. No one can suggest that ex-situ preservation of a few species maintains ecosystem biodiversity.

Regarding your questions, ex-situ preservation and conservation are two very different issues. Humans have to chose what species they wish to preserve (ex-situ) and if they can is still a largely unanswered question. Maintaining biodiversity is another difficult topic, biodiversity requires ecosystems, without complex ecosystems you lack biodiversity, humans cannot preserve biodiversity very effectively at the molecular or ecosystem level. We can do it if for a few chosen species but that is about it.

One can talk about sustainability of the pipeline of fish, inverts and corals into aquariums, the preservation of the aquarium trade, the preservation of individuals species from extinction, the sustainability of ecosystems, take your pick. However, there is a big difference from suggesting that culturing fish in captivity is protecting reef ecosystems, there must be evidence to support such claims. This requires more complex solution than just aquaculture.

I am not now or have ever been against developing culture methods, it's what I do for a living, nor have I been against developing a US or EU based industry for the culture of species, not against the preservation of our hobby by ensuring that we have a supply of captive breed fish for the trade. What I have suggested is that we can't message ourselves as saving reefs by simply culturing fish. Makes for nice commercials and feel good statements but it's largely untrue. If you want to suggest that the aquairum trade is providing a preservation method for species, fine, but how many species out of the thousands that rely on coral reefs do you have plans to save, just the pretty ones, the ones that eat algae or provide use here in our glass boxes with services. What about the others? What good do they do if they are not providing ecosystem services and functions. There are no fatal flaws with the idea of trying to sustain coral reef communities with all of their biodiversity, intact, with ecosystem based management strategies, we should do this as long as we possibility can. Suggesting a plan A or plan B choice decision is not accurate and only washes over the real issues that the developing world faces and that the aquarium community as a whole largely ignores. Suggesting that I was vilifying aquaculture makes for entertaining reading but it's not accurate.
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Re: "Want to Conserve" Importance of Aquaculture/Wild Fisher

Postby mpedersen » Sat Jul 24, 2010 1:01 am

Perhaps I'm really oversimplifying things, but a couple key points really drive home why you're not really acknowledging the long-term / global concerns that sustainability cannot address. Here's the first:

spawner wrote:Without addressing the human populations that are using these resources at a local level we only increase the damage and reduce the ability of the system to acclimate to changing conditions.


I may have alluded to it above, and I know I did in other comment threads. The above statement is one that on some levels dismisses the reality of ocean acidification and temperature rises. How does it dismiss this concerns about sustainability? By directly implying that the "system", coral reefs as a whole, will maintain their full biodiversity through "acclimation to changing conditions". Honestly, that seems beyond extremely optimistic given what we are generally lead to believe about these long term, global issues. Regardless, if it is your general belief that things are not going to be "that bad", then I can fully understand what I perceive to be your emphasis on sustainability over captive propagation as a means of preservation.

The second comment that caught my attention is:

spawner wrote:No one can suggest that ex-situ preservation of a few species maintains ecosystem biodiversity.


Again, on this we can agree. At this point we do not have the ability to preserve the full biodiversity, and frankly as a hobby, we are very selective about what we keep in the first place. The ugly cucumber or the basket starfish, the whale sharks and krill...these aren't all things we keep in our aquariums nor know how to propagate in captivity.

However, that is not what I propose. I am simply proposing that if we in any way make statements that de-emphasize (my "villainize") the importance of captive breeding (as in your initial comment), IF sustainability (relying on acclimation) fails, we lose more than if we work on both at this time.

On to #3...

spawner wrote:Regarding your questions, ex-situ preservation and conservation are two very different issues. Humans have to chose what species they wish to preserve (ex-situ) and if they can is still a largely unanswered question.


I somewhat agreed with you as I outlined in my response to the second item. You are fully correct. To go further, your last point proves my point...it IS an unanswered question that I perceive we are in a race to answer before it is "too late".

#4...

spawner wrote:...humans cannot preserve biodiversity very effectively at the molecular or ecosystem level. We can do it if for a few chosen species but that is about it.


And this comes full circle to the main point here. I don't believe sustainability can win in the face of climate change and ocean acifidification. Given that, I am honestly more concerned about increasing the number of species we can preserver, period. I would argue if we can make it to 1000 reef species of fish, inverts, and coral, that would be far better if the alternative is 0 because coral reefs as we know them have fully vanished and gone extinct, taking all that biodiversity with them. Again, this all largely falls on how much credence you put into the long-term problems, and what I perceive here is that you don't give them the same weight I do.

And finally, #5...

spawner wrote:There are no fatal flaws with the idea of trying to sustain coral reef communities with all of their biodiversity, intact, with ecosystem based management strategies, we should do this as long as we possibility can. Suggesting a plan A or plan B choice decision is not accurate and only washes over the real issues that the developing world faces and that the aquarium community as a whole largely ignores. Suggesting that I was vilifying aquaculture makes for entertaining reading but it's not accurate.


I really want to put this to you and have you address it DIRECTLY. You include the "fatal flaw" that I am so concerned about RIGHT IN THE SAME SENTENCE where you say "there are no fatal flaws". Here's the "fatal flaw" of "sustainability", in your own words - "...so long as we [possibly] can". I mean, that's it right there. We may not always be able to sustain coral reef communities with ecosystem based management strategies. That IS the fatal flaw I've been trying to point out that you feel doesn't exist. You've stopped short of saying WHY we may not always be able to use sustainability to preserver coral reefs, but you really didn't have to - I already gave many examples of why that could happen.

I don't mean to go round in circle, but you really need to example your own words. Your original statement made the following "indictments" against aquaculture:

1. "If wild fisheries like this are properly managed then it has a larger conservation impact than aquaculture"
2. "In fact aquaculture can often have a negative impact if livelihoods are taken away from a sustainable fishery and these fisherman start collecting grouper or other food fish with destructive fishing methods."

Now, to the layperson, and to anyone who reads none of your followup (which there wasn't before I published my response), there's no redeeming statements made about "aquaculture", and thus, it certainly seems to "vilify" it as an impediment to the "good work" that sustainable practices can accomplish. Yes, of course I chose a good word to get people's attention. I could have also chosen "demonize" ;) Regardless, the net result is that your statements, in context, without followup, cast captive propagation in a very negative light.

I don't know if there's really any more to debate on this at the moment, as I clearly see and understand most everything you have said. It's just that I can't agree with all of it, and frankly, where we disagree largely stems from our differences of opinion on the fate of reefs at this time. Rather than repeat myself, I just want to be clear that we need BOTH Sustainable Practices AND a largely increased effort on captive propagation as a failsafe in the event that sustainability is no longer viable, which based on even your statements, you reluctantly (and tried every which way not to) concede is a possibility. I truly would like your input on the "shift in demand" that I proposed in the article, because I see that as the best win-win scenario where we cover all our proverbial asses...
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Re: "Want to Conserve" Importance of Aquaculture/Wild Fisher

Postby rayjay » Sat Jul 24, 2010 9:59 am

As a marine hobbyist, and not an aquaculturist, I see merit in both arguments but perhaps total agreement is not possible because of differing base line beliefs.
As a hobbyist, I'm concerned about the fact that the marine hobby may decimate the reefs before any natural ecological conditions do the job.
I also adhere to the thought that saving the reefs is possible in that they could by themselves adjust over time to accomodate the new conditions nature and man have forced upon them, much like many other organisms have done in the past. But, I believe we need to find ways to give as much timeline as we possibly can to help facilitate this change they need to survive.
I am cognizant of the fact that many species won't make it, but believe that many others could do so.
I'm always hopeful, but wary, of mankind being able to do something to stop or minimize this ecological occurrence from happening to the extent it now appears may happen.
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