Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

The Dark Sides of the Aquarium Trade

07.11.2012
The fishing of ornamental organisms for the aquarium trade in Indonesia is based on a patron-client system with archaic traits. Scientists from the ZMT have taken a closer look at it.

The collection of marine organisms for the aquarium trade has increased significantly in recent years. Worldwide up to 46 million animals are traded each year at a value between 200 and 330 million U.S. dollars.


Indonesian fisher catching a clownfish, Spermonde Archipelago
Photo: Leyla Knittweis, ZMT


Assorting the catches, Spermonde Archipelago
Photo: Leyla Knittweis, ZMT

Indonesia is one of the most important countries of origin for aquarium animals from coral reefs. In a recently published study researchers of the Leibniz Center for Tropical Marine Ecology (ZMT) in Bremen have investigated why the governmental regulation of the collection of ornamental corals is not effective in the island country.

Only 1-2% of the traded reef corals are captive bred in aquariums; the lion’s share is still collected from the wild. Stony corals, which are mainly exported to the U.S., Europe and Japan, account for a quarter of the world’s traded aquarium organisms. About 80% of these come from Indonesia, where many fishermen earn their livelihood by collecting coral. Also ornamental organisms like clownfish and damselfish are a popular catch for the fishermen.

To suggest possible protection interventions, the reef ecologist and social scientist Sebastian Ferse and his colleagues from the ZMT studied the living conditions of the fishermen in the Spermonde Archipelago and how they are involved in the trade with ornamental organisms. The archipelago off Southwest Sulawesi is a densely populated island region and has a particularly brisk trade with aquarium animals. The researchers were especially interested in the social conditions and interdependencies on which the work of the fishermen is based. On several expeditions they interviewed inhabitants of the islands, as well as merchants and government officials in Makassar, the nearby capital of South Sulawesi and monitored the collection of the ornamental organisms.

As the researchers found, the fishermen of the archipelago are part of an archaic hierarchical system. “The fishermen work for middlemen, so-called patrons,” Ferse said. “They deliver their catch to them and are paid a fee, which is usually below the market price. What, how much and the means used to make the catch is ultimately an issue that is decided by the client.” If the fisherman agrees to deliver his catch to “his” patron on a regular basis, this patron will offer him a kind of social security that he would not receive from the government. The patron grants small loans, assistance in case of illness or for material losses due to natural disasters.

The middlemen are well connected with the national and international trade and pass on the demand directly to the fishermen. Most of the patrons have specialised in specific animal species, so that a market has been created for a wide variety of reef organisms. Many reef animals off Sulawesi have therefore become very rare. Furthermore, the use of destructive fishing methods such as poison and dynamite fishing is still quite prevalent in Spermonde. The Indonesian government has set fishing quotas to protect the reefs and issues fishing licenses, which are passed on to the fishermen via the patrons. “However, little attention is paid to government regulations,” Ferse said. “The patrons also allow unlicensed fishermen to work for them.” Thus, many catches do not appear in the official catch statistics.

According to Sebastian Ferse and his colleagues, patrons are an important contributing causal factor to the ecological problems, but they could also be an approach to a solution. These – until now often overlooked – links between fishermen and the market exercise a decisive influence on the behaviour of the fishermen and should be included in management activities to help achieve a sustainable use of marine resources.

More information:

Dr. Sebastian Ferse
Leibniz Center for Tropical Marine Ecology, Bremen, Germany
Tel: 0421 / 23800 – 28
Email: sebastian.ferse@zmt-bremen.de

Dr. Susanne Eickhoff | idw
Further information:
http://www.zmt-bremen.de

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Dune ecosystem modelling
26.06.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

nachricht Understanding animal social networks can aid wildlife conservation
23.06.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Gewässerökologie und Binnenfischerei (IGB)

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Study shines light on brain cells that coordinate movement

26.06.2017 | Life Sciences

Smooth propagation of spin waves using gold

26.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Switchable DNA mini-machines store information

26.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>