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Threatened freshwater fishes and the aquarium trade
June 27, 2013
4:24 am
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Stuporman
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Raghavan, R, N Dahanukar, MF Tlusty, AL Rhyne, KK Kumar, S Molur & AM Rosser, 2013. Uncovering an obscure trade: Threatened freshwater fishes and the aquarium pet markets, Biological Conservation 164: 158–169.

 
Abstract

 

While the collection of fish for the aquarium pet trade has been flagged as a major threat to wild populations, this link is tenuous for the unregulated wild collection of endemic species because of the lack of quantitative data. In this paper, we examine the extent and magnitude of collection and trade of endemic and threatened freshwater fishes from India for the pet markets, and discuss their conservation implications. Using data on aquarium fishes exported from India, we try to understand nature of the trade in terms of species composition, volume, exit points, and importing countries. Most trade in India is carried out under a generic label of “live aquarium fish”; yet despite this fact, we extracted export data for at least thirty endemic species that are listed as threatened in the IUCN Red List. Of the 1.5 million individual threatened freshwater fish exported, the major share was contributed by three species; Botia striata (Endangered), Carinotetraodon travancoricus (Vulnerable) and the Red Lined Torpedo Barbs (a species complex primarily consisting of Puntius denisonii and Puntius chalakkudiensis, both ‘Endangered’). Using the endangered Red Lined Torpedo Barbs as a case study, we demonstrate how existing local regulations on aquarium fish collections and trade are poorly enforced, and are of little conservation value. In spite of the fact that several threatened and conservation concern species are routinely exported, India has yet to frame national legislation on freshwater aquarium trade. Our analysis of the trade in wild caught freshwater fishes from two global biodiversity hotspots provides a first assessment of the trade in endangered and threatened species. We suggest that the unmanaged collections of these endemic species could be a much more severe threat to freshwater biodiversity than hitherto recognized, and present realistic options for management.

 
June 27, 2013
8:30 am
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Matt
Málaga, Spain
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Thanks HH. Wonder if we're going to see significant changes to the trade in wild caught fishes in the next decade or two?

Cake or death?
June 27, 2013
4:35 pm
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Plaamoo
Bellingham, Washington U.S.A.
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Thanks for sharing! I'd guess not Matt. I suppose we could see import restrictions to the US & Europe if enough fuss is made of it. Regulating harvest in developing countries seems near impossible to me. The greatest hope might just be from us hobbyists if we can educate our fellow hobbyists to respond by not buying endangered species. Also a longshot but a conversation worth having.

July 7, 2013
2:51 am
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Ferrika
Brunswick / Germany
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I can not understand how it is possible to import these animals in significant quantities when they are already considered endangered on the red list. Should not there be at least import restrictions?

When I check with us, almost everyone wholesalers has Puntius denisonii on the stocklist. Why is such a thing not prohibited?

greets Jutta
July 7, 2013
5:36 pm
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Jarcave
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Ferrika said
I can not understand how it is possible to import these animals in significant quantities when they are already considered endangered on the red list. Should not there be at least import restrictions?
When I check with us, almost everyone wholesalers has Puntius denisonii on the stocklist. Why is such a thing not prohibited?

I believe that Puntius denisonii is produced commercially as well as being collected n the wild. I just can't remember where I read this. It may have been a Matt Clarke article in PFK.

 

That said I do know my local wholesaler only imports wild caught fish direct from India. :(

July 8, 2013
9:14 am
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Matt
Málaga, Spain
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Glad this has provoked a bit of discussion.

Every Indian aquarist I've spoken to about the paper thinks it's ridiculous and we're hopefully going to publish a blog about it shortly.

If you read it closely it's easy to see why as well. Garra rufa is native to India? Channa aurantimaculata known only from a single locality? Betadevario in the trade and under major threat of over-collection? Referring to cardinal tetras being overfished with no mention of the sustainable fisheries set up in the rio Negro? And these are just a few examples.

The way in which the real major reasons for species decline (habitat degradation, pollution, damming of rivers, fishing with dynamite) are afforded secondary status in this paper (only mentioned once in passing) also gives the reader a false sense of the situation imo and it all reads as if there was an agenda before any research had even been done.

P. denisonii is produced in huge numbers these days and not so many wild ones are exported as far as I know.

Regarding the IUCN Red List, this is an international list that has nothing to do with control of import, export and collection laws in specific countries, nor does it have any legal jurisdiction in respect of conservation. The fish section is largely out of date and full of mistakes, too.

Cake or death?
July 10, 2013
11:42 am
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joyban
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Hi Matt,

 

There are only a few times of the year when these fishes can be collected, if one refers to Chalakudy River, mostly it will be around Jan Feb other wise there is too much water in these rivers...

 

What is threatening most of these fishes are River Mining , Habitat Destruction and damming etc as you have already mentioned... 

hence there should be more discussion on how to stop that rather than trade.. 

 

Regards

 

Sujoy

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