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FAQs on Sources of Reef Mortality 2

Related Articles: Sources of Reef Mortality,
Cyanide Usage in the Aquarium and Live Food-Fish Industries:
Causes, Impacts and Management of a Pervasive Practice by Ivan Steward

Related FAQs: Marine Mortality 1, Cyanide and Marine Livestock Collection,

Study ties coral disease to warmer oceans - CNN.com -- 05/08/07
<Not news, not at eleven... Stop reproducing. Yes, you. No babies. RMF>

Article about Coral Reefs        11/30/18
Hello there,
<Hey Anna! Have read over, and will link. IF you have time, interest in a bit more of the science, there is a book by J.E.N. Veron, A Reef In Time, publ. in 2009... and the editor in me would like to add that the plural of zooxanthella is zooxanthellae. Thank you for your efforts. BobF>
Amazing job on your page http://wetwebmedia.com/StressinLPSArt.htm you have on your site really great stuff!. :) I've recently written an article Coral Reefs Around The World Are In Grave Danger. Here's What's Happening and was wondering if you thought my article could be a good addition to your page.
I have published it on this site, please take a look https://moboxmarine.com/blogs/mobox-marine-blog/coral-reefs-around-the-world-are-in-grave-danger
I would like to hear your opinion on this article. Also, if you find it useful, please consider linking to it from your page I mentioned earlier. Please let me know what you think. :)
Thank you very much,

ADE Project - Marine Depot Shopping Event - Friday 9th Feb -      2/8/18
thanks Bob,
Can you pass this through your channels as well?
ADE Project - Marine Depot Shopping Event - Friday 9th Feb -
Marine Depot has partnered with The ADE Project, and for ONE DAY ONLY Friday February 9th they will generously donate 5% of the sales generated from this flyer.
Together we can make a difference...


WAMAS Donates to ADE   12/21/17
Hi Bob
Good news
We got some traction here !!!
See if you could help boost this post
<Ahh, will post on WWM. BobF>
All the best mate!
Happy holidays
"Hi James.
It's been a long time since our working together on MACNA 2015. Working with the professionals at Reef2Rainforest to put together a great program booklet was one of the high points of my experience.

I wanted to touch base with you on something that my club, WAMAS, just did to support ADE (Aquaculture Development for the Environment) - I believe that you all ran an article, "CORAL Excerpt: A Walt Smith Vision: Restoring the Reefs of Fiji" (By Bob Fenner) on the Reef2Rainforest website back in March.

Anyway, using resources that we earned from hosting MACNA 2015, WAMAS (of which I'm president) just donated $10K to ADE. I believe that we're the first major outside donor to that program. Reefbuilders <https://reefbuilders.com/2017/12/20/washington-area-reefers-give-support-to-real-coral-farmers/> just announced it a few minutes ago and, because of your connections to the community and prior interest in this newsworthy project, both Walt and I invite you to consider following up with an announcement on your site or, if sufficient interest exists, to go further with the story. (We'll do whatever we can do to help provide more information if something more in-depth is desired.)

We made the decision to support ADE, in part, because of the article that you all published earlier in the year, and because we believe in the vision, the approach, and the potential impact of the project that Walt is implementing. We hope that you might see it similarly.

If you're up for it, ADE has produced a full length video<http://www.adeproject.org/what-is-ade/> that talks more to the project, its goals, and the enterprise model, linking local and regional government, scientists, and the marine livestock supply chain industry together to benefit both local workers and far-away hobbyists, and every point in between.

Please consider a story on the topic. This is an important project with real potential.

Thank you.

Tom Land
WAMAS President"
Walt Smith
Director, A.D.E. Project

Re: WAMAS Donates to ADE /James Lawrence   12/21/17
New Funding for ADE Project from WAMAS <https://www.reef2rainforest.com/2017/12/20/new-funding-for-ade-project-from-wamas/>
The Washington DC Area Marine Aquarist Society (WAMAS) has awarded the first major contribution, a $10,000 donation, to the ADE Project in Fiji

Renee is using your name.....      11/14/17
Hey Bob,
<Hey Rob>
Didn't know if you saw the R2R article and Renee's response. She's claiming to quote you:
Aquatics Leadership: Time to Unify or See the End of the Age <https://www.reef2rainforest.com/2017/11/09/aquarium-industry-under-siege/>
For the last five years, activist groups have pressed a full-court attack against ornamental fishing professionals, hobbyists, and aquarium advocates.
Just thought I'd share if you hadn't see it.
<Appreciated... I take it this is what you're referring to:
"It’s a scare tactic designed to solicit donations so they can, ultimately, protect the bottom line of the trade that considers fish and other wildlife as expendable livestock necessary to drive the lucrative sales of equipment, supplies and fish food (paraphrased statement from Bob Fenner)."
... I don't know what Rene Umberger (and Bob Wintner, aka Snorkel Bob) are paraphrasing, but the two have been misquoting me for about twenty years, and yes... I've asked them to desist, or at the very least NOT "paraphrase" or take anything of mine in print OUT of context. I do wish they would stop; AND I've not ceased defending the industry for all the good we do. I intend to respond to Rene per the citation. Again, I thank you. Bob Fenner <<Interested? Follow the link above. RMF>>
Rob Mougey
Vice President of the Marine Aquarium Societies of North America (MASNA<http://masna.org/>)

ADE; share on web      11/11/17
Hi Bob,
Would I be out of place asking you to share this on WWM?
Both letter and link?
<Sure Walt>
The video is very well done, I think you will agree.
Walt Smith
<Ah yes. Will do on the morrow. BobF>

Exploring aquarium trade in the Pacific Islands, requesting contacts       9/21/16
Hey WWM crew!
I am proposing a Watson Fellowship project for next year after I graduate from college to look at the marine ornamental aquarium trade.
how the trade functions on islands in the South Pacific, its sustainability, and the influence this trade has an reef management and conservation through the local cultures.
<Oh! Great>
The Watson is a program that offers a paid year of exploration abroad to expand vision and abilities in the field of your choice. Aquariums have long been a passion of mine, and I am curious to investigate how the hobby ties in with reef health, the latter now my basis of my research as a developing marine biologist. I will focus in on the islands of the South
Pacific and attempt to develop a more detailed understanding of how cultures, customs, and fishing practices come together to influence the reef environments.
A part of the project planning is that I need local contacts to help direct me as I travel from country to country and allow me access into observing and working with these communities. I am wondering if you would be willing to put me in touch with anyone you know in the area. Particularly, I am interested in looking at Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Fiji, Samoa,
Tonga, and potentially Palau and the Cook Islands, though the itinerary is still flexible.
<Yikes; a bunch of folks to relate. HOW I wish you had made this request beyond a couple weeks back, come out to visit at the recent MACNA... several folks were in attendance that would have been important to your task here>
Thank you for your time and consideration! I look forward to hearing from you.
<Let's see... of "uber" contacts (folks that have done, are doing similar work); am going to suggest Andrew Rhyne, Kevin Erickson and Elizabeth Wood... DO look up their names on the Net, contact them w/ the same intro. as here. In Fiji I'd contact Walt Smith, in the Cooks (Roratonga), Chip Boyle.... Unfortunately I don't know you personally, hence my hesitancy to introduce you directly. Bob Fenner>

Grand Cayman cruise ship anchor damage        12/10/15
> Hi Bob,
> Have you seen this?
<I had not>
> https://www.reddit.com/r/videos/comments/3w5hlb/royal_caribbean_cruise_lines_was_given_permission/
> Looks terrible. I’m assuming that one anchor like that causes damage that will take decades to re-grow.
<Wait till you, they pull this anchor up; MUCH more damage from the chain dragging>
> One of the comments was interesting though: "What people don't understand is that scuba diving is the most profitable tourism driver. Grand Cayman will earn more money in a year from scuba than cruise ships. People on cruise ships don't pay for hotels, they don't pay for restaurants, they don't pay for a scuba charter, etc., they only purchase a friggen mug on shore. Scuba diving is where the tourist money is. If they go down this road, they will end up just like Haiti with nothing, no reefs, no fish to feed their children.”
<Tis so>
> Is that true? Are small numbers of scuba divers more profitable for reef resorts that big numbers of package holiday tourists on cruise ships?
<Yes; and not a small number. The principal (Grand) Cayman island has thousands of scuba divers on it at any given moment>
> I wonder if monetizing reefs more explicitly (including as sources of tropical aquarium fish) is the best way to preserve them. Simply talking about natural habitats and biodiversity doesn’t seem to be achieving much. Even if Yellow Tang populations on a given reef halved because of collecting, that’d be a small price to pay for maintaining that reef as a viable ecosystem.
<Ah yes; good point. One that is often cited, expounded>
> (That’s one reason I was opposed to banning fox hunting here. Not that killing a small dog using a bunch of slightly bigger dogs was appealing, I think it sounds horrible and can’t see the pleasure in it at all. But maintaining habitat for the foxes has kept hedgerows and small woodlands going here for hundreds of years. Without any demand for foxes, farmers have no reason to keep these critical habitats. I don’t think biologists should be sentimental about wildlife. Nature itself certainly isn’t! Dismembering a few foxes seems to be the price to pay for maintaining the habitat required by all sorts of wild animals and plants.)
<I do understand; and agree>
> Cheers, Neale
<And you my friend. BobF>

URGENT: Kids online vote to ban fish collection in Hawaii      3/21/15
I was just made aware of this online vote and essay contest organized by Time Magazine for Kids. They are asking kids to vote on whether or not to ban the collecting of marine fish in Hawaii. Voting ends at the end of March. They are also looking for essays from kids on the topic So far the vote is 60% in favor of banning the trade. WE NEED MORE VOTES AND ESSAYS SUBMITTED!
Is there some listserv you can use to post this to all of your member clubs? Time is running out fast! This is an open attack on our hobby using kids, we need kids to counter with their concerns about the loss of their ability to keep fish in their home aquarium or classrooms, and the impact this will have on recruiting new marine scientists and environmentally aware youth. Bans such as this serve to further the growing disconnect that exists between nature and our children.
Thank you in advance for anything you can do.
Best regards,
J. Charles Delbeek
<Will put up on WWM. Cheers Charlie. BobF>
Subject: RE: article for TIME Magazine For Kids      3/21/15

Hello. The link to the online article is below. We are giving readers until the end of March to respond to the debate, then we'll publish a couple responses along with the article in our print magazine. Thanks for your help with the story.
Brenda Iasevoli
TIME For Kids
17th Floor, Suite 31C
11766 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90025

PIJAC Aquatics Committee HI Alert        2/9/15
Forgot to mention that hope you will rebroadcast PIJAC Alert to interested people,
<Will be doing. Bob Fenner>







The House Ocean, Marine Resources, & Hawaiian Affairs Committee of the Hawaii Legislature plans to hear and vote on three bills (HB 606, 873 and 883) that directly targets the aquarium trade by imposing outright bans or standards on fish collecting that are detrimental to the safety of the fish as well as make it impossible to operate in a humane and economic manner. The Committee will also hear one bill (HB 511) designed to protect fishermen from undue harassment. Many of these proposals start from an assumption that the fishing associated with the aquarium industry negatively impacts local population of native species.


HB 606  - Establishes a 10-year moratorium on the taking of aquarium fish. This is the practical equivalent of outlawing the entire aquarium fishing industry.

HB 873 -  Prohibits the sale of aquatic life for aquarium purposes use "taken from any of the waters within the jurisdiction of the State". This bill is nearly identical to SB322 in the Senate.

HB 883  - Mandates collection, shipping, and holding practices that would make it impossible to care for fish in a humane manner.

 "Cruel treatment" means:

Surfacing at a rate resulting in physical damage to the body tissue;

Piercing or deflating the swim bladder;

Cutting the fin or spine

Withholding food for more than twenty-four hours; or

Holding fish or aquatic life in less than one gallon of water, per each

specimen, within any container.

HB 511 - Establishes anti-harassment provisions against intentionally preventing or attempting to prevent lawful taking if fish by licensed collectors.  The law would ensure that no one can intentionally prevent or attempt to prevent the lawful taking of fish by a person possessing a permit issued by the State or fishing in marine waters within the State's jurisdiction by placing themselves in a location in which human presence may affect the behavior of fish to be taken or the feasibility of taking such fish. Nor would they create a visual, aural, olfactory, or physical stimulus to affect the behavior of fish to be taken; OR affect the condition or placement of personal property intended for use in fishing activities; OR obstructing the fisher’s access to areas in which the person intends to lawfully take fish.



For residents of Hawai’i:

  • You need to act immediately to let the Hawaii Legislature know that you oppose HB 606, HB 873 and HB 883. Also let them know that you support HB 511.
  • All testimony/comments have to be submitted by no later than 5:00 pm Tuesday February 9, 2015. You need to submit separate comments for each bill – do not comment on all of the bills in one document.
  • You must submit testimony individually for each bill. Do not combine on one letter!
  • Alert everyone you can and encourage them to not only send comments, but also attend the Hearing that starts at 8:30 AM in Conference Room 325, State Capitol, 415 South Beretania Street.
  • You can submit your testimony/comments by several methods:
    • Go to PIJAC’s website and you can file your testimony by an automatic system called "Engage." If you plan to prepare testimony on your letterhead or as attachment you need to use one of the options below:
    • Testimony on personal letterhead and attachments can be submitted online via the Capitol website.  Submissions by the Capitol website will be part of the Record. To use this method, go to the web page of each bill (listed above), click on the blue "submit testimony" button, and follow the instructions.  Select "oppose" for HB 606, 873, and 883, and "support" for HB 511, plus whatever statement you would like to make about the legislation.  Please note that, before you can submit online testimony, you must register an account with the State Capitol, which can be done at the following link: http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/login/register.aspx
    • To send your testimony to individual Committee members, see email addresses below or use the PIJAC link above
    • Contact committee members offices, especially if you happen to know them, to let them know why you are opposed to all of the bills but HB 511 and support the HB 511 anti-harassment protection.

For all others:

  • You need to act immediately to let the Hawaii Legislature know that you oppose HB 606, HB 873 and HB 883. Also let them know that you support HB 511.
  • All testimony/comments have to be submitted by no later than 5:00 pm Tuesday February 9, 2015. You need to submit separate comments for each bill – do not comment on all of the bills in one document.
  • You can submit your testimony/comments by several methods:
    • Go to PIJAC’s website and you can file your testimony by an automatic system called "Engage." Your submission will be part of the Record. If you plan to prepare testimony on your letterhead or as attachment you need to use one of the options below:
    • Testimony on personal letterhead or attachments can be submitted online via the Capitol website.  Submissions by the Capitol website will be part of the Record. To use this method, go to the web page of each bill (listed above), click on the blue "submit testimony" button, and follow the instructions.  Select "oppose" for HB 606, 873, and 883, and "support" for HB 511, plus whatever statement you would like to make about the legislation.  Please note that, before you can submit online testimony, you must register an account with the State Capitol, which can be done at the following link: http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/login/register.aspx
    • To send your testimony to individual Committee members, see email addresses below or use the PIJAC link above

      Committee Emails:

Chair Kaniela Ing reping@Capitol.hawaii.gov

Vice Chair Nicole E. Lowen, replowen@Capitol.hawaii.gov

T J.K. Cullen, repcullen@Capitol.hawaii.gov

Cindy Evans, repcullen@Capitol.hawaii.gov

Chris Lee, repclee@Capitol.hawaii.gov

Scott Y. Nishimoto, repnishimoto@Capitol.hawaii.gov

Calvin K. Y. Say, repsay@Capitol.hawaii.gov

Ryan I. Yamane, repyamane@Capitol.hawaii.gov

Feki Pouha, reppouha@Capitol.hawaii.gov

Cynthia Thielen, repthielen@Capitol.hawaii.gov

Contact everyone you know in Hawai’i and encourage them to act as well as notify all of their friends. Contact your friends, family, coworkers, employees and anyone you do business with, and get them to weigh in on these bills immediately.


The following is provided to help you when preparing your testimony:

1. Hawai’i’s aquarium industry is considered as one of if not the best regulated near-shore fishery in the world.

2. The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), pursuant to State law, submits a report every 5 years to the legislature "Relating to the West Hawai’i Regional Fishery Management Area."

3. The 2015 Report found that the "The Hawai′i marine aquarium fishery is currently the most economically valuable commercial inshore fishery in the State with FY 2014 reported landings greater than $2.3 million."

4. DLNR found that the West Hawaii "no-aquarium collecting" Fish Replenishment Areas (FRAs), implemented in 1999, have been very successful in increasing populations of Yellow Tang (Zebrasoma flavescens) -- the most heavily targeted aquarium fish accounting for 84% of the total catch. Fifteen years after closure, the population of Yellow Tang has increased 64.5% in the FRAs while its abundance in the Open Areas has not declined significantly." Overall Yellow Tangs have increased substantially with a current population in excess of 3.6 million fish.

5. DLNR , based upon the effectiveness of the West Hawai′i FRAs for aquarium fish, recommends that it establish MPAs for other fish species.

6. DNLR Aquarium ‘White List’ for West Hawaii of 40 species permitted for the aquarium trade is working. Fish not on the list can not be collected for the aquarium trade. Size and bag limits for three species are in place.

7. Recently an updated rules package was adopted for the Oahu ornamental aquarium fishery.

8. The regulatory mechanisms covering the Hawaiian aquarium fishery supports the tenets of the sustainable use of renewable natural resources supported in the IUCN’s Policy Statement on Sustainable Use as an important conservation tool that provides people with incentives in the form of social and economic benefits as in the case of DNLR’s management of the Oahu and West Hawaii fisheries. That is buttressed by DLNR’s adaptive management by continually improving its management as new challenges arise. This involves monitoring, assessment and applying the results by adjusting management regimes to achieve the desired result.

9. Every responsible scientific study, and even Hawaii’s own DLNR, say that the management practices currently in place have resulted in an increase in Hawaii’s fish population over the last 15 years.  Of all the things that affect the health of the reef and its inhabitants, fishing for the aquarium trade has the lowest impact. 

10. Tourism, while essential to the Hawaiian economy, has a far greater impact than aquarium fishing does.  To see tourism businesses like diving guides complain about the aquarium trade is opportunistic and somewhat hypocritical.

11. A moratorium is a nothing more than a ban.   The idea that the state of Hawaii would kill an entire industry and shut down Hawaiian businesses that have been responsibly operating for decades is unfathomable.  The idea that this legislation offers job retraining for people who have built business over generations closed despite the proven fact that it was doing no harm to the environment is, frankly, dismissive of all the efforts, risks and financial commitments that it took to build these businesses 

12. The steps that are taken in preparing fish for transportation are done for the safety and survivability of the fish.  It makes no economic sense to intentionally engage in selling injured, infirm or sick fish.

13. Withholding food prior to shipment is a long accepted husbandry practice well documented in the literature as well as recommended in the International Air Transport Association Live Animals Regulations to eliminate harm from exposing the fish to elevated levels of ammonia and to ensure that the digestive tract is cleared and the water has not been fouled. If the proposed rule is adopted it will lead to severe stress or death.

14. Trimming tail spines (the equivalent of trimming your nails) keeps them from puncturing the shipping bags.

15. Requiring one gallon of water per fish is completely arbitrary and there are absolutely no science-based studies supporting such a requirement.

16. A 2012 Washington State University study by Emily Munday -- "The Effects of Venting and Decompression on Mortality and Sublethal Effects in Yellow Tangs (Zebrasoma Flavescens) Caught for the West Hawaii Aquarium Trade" -- found that the practices of the Hawaii fish exporters did not cause any mortality in Yellow Tangs received by the researcher and held for the duration of the 6 month study – and ongoing observation. The same study found that fasting pre-shipment is the best practice and prohibiting fasting would be detrimental.

16. Statements that the Aquarium trade is harvesting Hawaiian corals are inaccurate. Collecting corals for the aquarium trade has been prohibited for years and there is no evidence of the aquarium trade removing corals.

For more information, contact Chris Buerner or Marshall Meyers

Re: Important! Public hearing for aquarium fish ban legislation on Wednesday, Feb. 11       2/10/15
Date: Tue, 10 Feb 2015 06:53:33 +1200

Thanks for your support. Can you do me a favor? I want to provide testimony beyond just hitting the “oppose” button however, I am not that familiar with the Hawaiian particulars such as size of habitat, fish populations, number of collectors, export data etc. If you have any of this sort of information I would appreciate a copy so I can then use this data and somehow use it in relation to what we do/have done in Fiji and Tonga as a sustainable harvest. My fear is that if I just use my Fiji data as a collector I might appear as uniformed (with local issues) yet biased because I am also a collector. If anyone else can contribute some of this stuff I can put a pretty good report together that directly relates from a collectors and exporters point of view using useful comparable data. I'll be working on this all day in needed. Thanks, Walt
Fwd: Important! Public hearing for aquarium fish ban legislation on Wednesday, Feb. 11 Deb, Walt, I am presenting testimony on Wednesday on behalf of AZA (Association of Zoos & Aquariums). Also, please read Matthew’s message below and especially where and how to send testimony. There has been some incorrect information circulating on where to send testimony. It has to be submitted no later that 8:30am our time on Tuesday (tomorrow over here). Bruce
<Thank you for your efforts on all our behalves. BobF>
Re: 873
Sent: Tuesday, February 10, 2015 6:30 AM
To: Walt Smith; Robert Fenner; Cameron
Subject: Re: 873 Walt, Don’t use the exact words that I’ve used below because this is what I will be presenting (part of it anyway). But hopefully this can give you an idea of what is important plus whatever comments you might have in addition Bruce (BILL COMMENTS)The arguments in the preamble of HB 873 are inaccurate and therefore do not support the conclusion that tropical fish collecting should be banned: -
Pg. 1, line 2: there is no coral harvesting of by the Aquarium collectors in Hawaii; all stony corals and live rocks are protected and have been so for many years. -
Pg 1, line 11: There are no data to support the assertion that aquarium species are three to ten times more abundant in protected areas. It is true that the aquarium species are more common in protected areas but the percentages range from 4% to 77%, nowhere near 3 – 10 times different. -
Pg. 1, line 15 - Pg. 2, line 5: It is not true that regulations have failed to maintain fish populations. Intensive monitoring in West Hawaii has revealed INCREASING populations of yellow tangs. Fifteen years after the creation of Fish Replenishment Areas, the population of yellow tang have increased 64.5% in these FRA’s and has not significantly declined in areas where collecting still occurs. Overall, the present population of yellow tang in West Hawaii, the most heavily targeted species is estimated to be 3.6 million fish. -
Pg. 2, lines 7-12: It is true that herbivorous fishes are important for the stability of coral reefs, but it is not true that fish collecting has depleted these species to the point where reefs are changing from corals to algae dominance. Algae cover at 25 sites on West Hawaii range from 0% to 6.3%; 22 of the 25 sites have <1% macroalgae cover. -
Pg. 3, line 5: The statement that “Restoring” herbivorous fish populations is essential for the protection of Hawaii’s coral reefs” would be acceptable if the first word is changed to “Managing”, which is the current and effective practice. Thirty years ago, opponents of fish collecting warned that Hawaii’s fish species were going extinct from over-collecting. Today, none of Hawaii’s fish species is close to endangered or threatened. The arguments have now shifted claiming that Hawaii coral reefs have been degraded by collecting activities. This too is false. Why is it possible to remove so many fish and not have a harmful effect? Because current management practices ARE working. Coastal fisheries can be managed by monitoring fishermen and establishing protected areas where no fishing is allowed. In the tropics, many reef fishes spawn thousands of eggs every day throughout the year, and the eggs and larvae are widely distributed, including to areas where fish collecting is permitted. This is the management system that allows extraction to continue on a sustainable basis. After many years of conflict, ACT 306 of the 1998 Legislature effectively resolved this issue through a process that brought together the community of West Hawaii and tropical fish collectors. This ACT led to the creation of extensive fishery management areas covering 35.2% of the West Hawaii coast. The DLNR 2015 “Report on the Findings and Recommendations of Effectiveness of the West Hawaii Regional Fishery Management Area”, attests to the effectiveness of the FRA’s. Act 306’s requirement for substantive community input was described as “revolutionary”. It is a great example of effective rule-making, as compared to the findings and provisions of HB 873.
On Feb 9, 2015, at 8:25 AM, Walt Smith <walt@waltsmith.com> wrote: Need comments ……............
<Yes, yes and yes.... BobF
Re: 873
Date: Wed, 11 Feb 2015 04:49:21 +1200

Hi Bob,
<Hey Walt>
Have you registered and submitted your vote to oppose?
<Yes and yes>
You can do this by registering on the capital link then they will give you a code. Once you have this you can log into the site and type the bill number in the search box and you will get a form asking if you oppose or support and there is a comment box you can state your case. It is all very easy and the deadline is 10:30AM California time TODAY.
Please help if you can …… the petitioners are strong and also full of bully crap, this needs to be pointed out.
<Cheers, BobF>

More Bills?  Ongoing anti-petfish legislation in Hawaii, US 50th State      1/26/15
<Thanks for sending this note along David. Fight the good fight. Bob Fenner>
There could be more bills as cut off is not until the 29th! Aloha everyone, As you may know, the 2015 legislative session began this week. This year, the anti-aquarium activists are making an exceptionally strong effort to eliminate our businesses at the state level. So far, 4 bills concerning the aquarium fishery have been introduced; two in the Senate and two in the House. Two of these bills call for a total statewide ban on the aquarium fishery. These are very dangerous and must be opposed at all cost! - SB 322 - Criminalizes the sale of aquatic life for aquarium use:
http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/measure_indiv.aspx?billtype=SB&billnumber=322 - HB 606 - Complete ban on the taking of aquarium fish statewide:
One bill would impose unreasonable standards for shipping fish, which would effectively kill the industry.- SB 670 - Requires exporters to feed fish within 8 hours of transport:
And, finally, there is a bill that would make it illegal to harass fishermen in state waters. This is a very good thing!- HB 511 - Prohibits the harassment of persons marine fishing and aquarium fishing:
So far, none of these bills have been scheduled for hearing. However, it's critical that all of us are prepared when the time comes. Our opposition is very well organized and well funded, so there is a very real possibility that we could lose our jobs this year unless we fight as hard as we can. We NEED as much testimony as possible this time! Please make sure that everybody you know who is concerned and able to help is aware of these issues and ready to do what's needed.

PIJAC PetAlert on NMFS on next phase on listing 20 corals‏

Please forward to all of your contacts in the marine community, especially marine societies.
Marshall Meyers
Ah yes; will be placing on WetWebMedia on the morrow Marshall. BobF
Thanks bob

Comments due March 16, 2015

The Issue:

On January 13, 2015, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) published an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) in the Federal Register requesting public input regarding the potential need for protective regulations for 20 coral species listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) (80 Fed. Reg. 1616).  These 20 coral species were previously listed by NMFS on September 10, 2014 (79 Fed. Reg. 53,851).  Fifteen of these corals are Indo-Pacific species; 5 are Caribbean species.  Key documents regarding the listing provide important background information.

At the time NMFS listed the 20 corals, the agency did not propose protective regulations for the coral species.  Instead, NMFS indicated at the time of listing it would consider the need for such regulations in future processes.

Section 4(d) of ESA provides that whenever any species is listed as a "threatened" species pursuant to the ESA, the Secretary shall issue such regulations as he deems "necessary and advisable" to provide for the conservation of such species. The Secretary may by regulation prohibit with respect to any threatened species any act prohibited under Section 9(a)(1) of the ESA.  Such prohibited acts include, but are not limited to, the import and export of threatened species, and possessing, selling, transporting, or shipping any species taken in violation of the ESA.

Section 4(d) of the ESA provides the Secretary with considerable flexibility to tailor protective regulations for threatened species.  NMFS is now in the process of determining if any regulations are necessary and advisable to provide for the conservation of the 20 listed coral species.  NMFS states in the ANPR that it is seeking information from the public to make this determination, and that the agency will evaluate a number of factors in determining the need for protective regulations. These factors include the biological status of the species, the potential impact of activities such as trade, import, and export on the species, and other factors, such as the efficacy of existing conservation measures.

The Potential Impact of ESA Regulations on the Marine Trade and Aquarium Hobby:

If NMFS applies all of the prohibitions contained in Section 9(a)(1) of the ESA to the 20 listed coral species, a range of activities would become prohibited under federal law unless a party obtains further authorization from NMFS.  These prohibited activities would include importing or exporting the species; possessing, transporting or selling the listed species; or handling, capturing, or holding the species in captivity. 

NMFS is now requesting public comment to help them understand and analyze the impacts of various activities, as well as the "efficacy" of ongoing conservation activities (e.g., CITES or other government regulatory regimes or non-governmental programs).

PIJAC position:

PIJAC's Aquatic Committee is formulating comments in response to this ANPR, and PIJAC is soliciting input from PIJAC members, concerned hobbyists and others that have information relevant to the issues specifically addressed in the ANPR.  Please send your information and thoughts to PIJAC no later than March 1, 2015, for use in this effort.  Also, do not hesitate to contact marshall@pijac.org for more information.  And - do not forget to submit your comments to NMFS by no later than March 16, 2015.

Recommended Action: 

NMFS acknowledges that it has flexibility under Section 4(d) of the ESA to tailor protective regulations for threatened species to prohibit those actions that impact species conservation.  PIJAC will work with NMFS to educate the agency on the range of actions undertaken by PIJAC members and hobbyists that positively contribute to species conservation.  In doing so, PIJAC will provide information to NMFS to assist the agency in identifying necessary and advisable regulations in view of the unique life history characteristics exhibited by these species.

Review the Federal Register notice at page 1618 where NMFS list types of information it seeks:

  1. Current and planned activities involving each of the 20 species and possible impacts on the species
  2. Impacts within each species range by any of the following threats: ocean warming, disease, ocean acidification, sea-level rise, nutrient enrichment, sedimentation, predation, trophic effects of fishing, and collection and trade.
  3. Information on which Section 9(a)(1) prohibitions on take "are necessary and advisable for the conservation of species, with associated justification."
  4. Specific activities which should be prohibited by species and provide justification(s)
  5. Specific activities that should be excepted from any prohibitions because the activity either provides a conservation benefit or does not detract from the conservation of the species and provide justification(s)
  6. Existing permitting programs that may already provide for conservation of the species through activity evaluation(s) and permitting processes and provide justification(s)
  7. Economic costs and benefits likely to result from the protective regulations.

Submit your written comments to NMFS on or before March 16, 2015, online or by US mail.

For online submissions:  Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal www.regulations.gov or click on www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2014-0158.

Then click the ''Comment Now'' icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments.

For mail submissions (Reference NOAA-NMFS-2014-0158):

For Indo-Pacific corals listed in Table 1 send to:

Lance Smith, Protected Resources Division, 
National Marine Fisheries Service, 
Pacific Islands Regional Office, 
NOAA Inouye Regional Center, 
1845 Wasp Blvd., Building 176,
Honolulu, HI 96818

For Caribbean species listed in Table 2 send to:

Stephania Bolden, Protected Resources Division, 
National Marine Fisheries Service, 
Southeast Regional Office, 263
13th Avenue South, 
Saint Petersburg, FL 33701


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Fishing Super-trawlers to be banned permanently from Australian waters     12/24/14
Hello Bob,
> Interesting article on Reddit about banning super-trawlers from a specific part of the Pacific. One particular comment made me stop and think:
> http://www.reddit.com/r/worldnews/comments/2q9mbm/fishing_supertrawlers_to_be_banned_permanently/cn494ci
<Ah yes; and a typical interchange of ideas... some reasonable, others profane, ignorant>
> Quite interesting to read the next few comments down, too.
> Bottom line, and why I’m sending this to you and your work in Hawaii, is the interplay between fisheries biology,
politicians in/ability to deal with science-related legislation, and general ignorance among the public about environmental issues.
> Cheers, Neale
<Yes; the same issues... how to achieve balance in time, maturation of a fishery. Striking for allowing lower tech
(catch per unit effort) fishers to co/exist w/ newer, larger scale. And the usual social inertia, backwardness of
unknowledgeable folks making noise, not sense. Cheers, BobF>

learning about ocean life; link to add        11/21/13
My niece and I really enjoyed the resources on your page,
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwlinks.htm . I'm currently helping her out with a school project on ocean life!
We've been having a blast searching for resources and reading up on all the pages we find!
Anyway, I'm sure you're wondering who I am...let me introduce myself...my name is Karen. I write for vacationhomerentals.com. :) I've written a few articles and resources about traveling, destinations, and fun things to do while visiting a certain destination!
We thought that maybe one of my articles, 'Online Beach & Ocean Activities For Kids'
(http://www.vacationhomerentals.com/resources/online-beach-ocean-activities-for-kids.html ), would be a good fit for your page.
My niece gives the article a 'thumbs up' and thinks it'd be a fabulous resource for your page.
She's too cute. :) She's used some of the resources from my article as well to aid her in her research. And, I think that's fabulous!
<I thank you>
Thanks for your time and please feel free to check out my author page or G+ PROFILE. Looking forward to your kind reply.
Karen Fowler
<Any relation to the ichthyologist Henry Weed? Bob Fenner>

extremely depressing – 07/27/12
Doubtless you saw this but just in case :
<Yes, and am not so pessimistic. The reefs won't go ahead of humans. Bob Fenner>
Re: extremely depressing    7/27/12

> <Yes, and am not so pessimistic. The reefs won't go ahead of humans. Bob Fenner>
Bob : I think you underestimate human greed and stupidity. I don't give humanity a hundred years .... Mom Nature doesn't accept excuses, and that's all we've got to offer.
Playing God was fun while it lasted, I guess ... :)
<Not god my friend... and I too well understand human nature... As T.S. Eliot stated, we'll go out not with a bang but a whimper. B> 

A World Without Coral Reefs - NYTimes.com    7/15/12
> http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/14/opinion/a-world-without-coral-reefs.html?_r=1&emc=eta1 
> What are your thoughts? This is horrible if it's true. I knew it was bad and much more has to be done.
<Humans will go first. Bob Fenner>

A nice short bideo story re coral/reef restoration and KenN   7/12/12
Thanks for sharing.

[Coral-List] 82 Corals Status Review under the US Endangered  Species Act      6/3/12
> Oh brother, here we go again!
>Thanks Walt. Gene, might I post this on WetWebMedia.com w/ credit to you? Bob Fenner
> No problem...post it.
> Well here we go again! The Center for Biodiversity has masterminded yet
> another misuse of the Endangered Species Act by suing NOAA/National Marine
> Fisheries Service to list 82 species of corals.
> It wouldn't be an unwarranted move if there were scientific certainty about
> what is causing their demise. Common sense says, "If you don't know what's
> killing something, then what do you protect it from?"
> That was the case back when CBD forced endangered status on Acropora species
> several years ago. Did listing of Acropora stop the demise of that genus in
> the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary where all coral species are
> protected? The answer is no. Ironically, even then there were areas in the
> Caribbean where the genus flourished, and there are still areas where it
> flourishes. Curiously, A. cervicornis is growing magnificently suspended in
> the water column on lines in Ken Nedimyer's coral nursery within FKNMS. They
> and other Acroporids just do not grow well on coral reefs where they
> flourished until the late 1970s. There is also good evidence now that the
> white-band disease that wiped out Acropora is caused by a bacterial
> infection.
> Unfortunately listing did not get rid of the mystery microbe. Quite likely
> it is disease-resistant genotypes that have remained resistant to the
> disease. That would explain why geological research indicates there have
> been two major extinctions of A. cervicornis and rebirths in the FKNMS
> during the past 6,000 years (Shinn et al. 2003; Shinn 2004). Acropora growth
> rate, if unchecked, would have allowed it to grow as much as 600 ft.
> vertically during the period that Florida reefs have existed.
> So now it is 82 coral species the CBD is using to advance their cause,
> eight of which are Caribbean species. Since I have conducted geological and
> growth-rate research in the Caribbean, it is best that I restrict my
> comments to those species. First, I think we can all agree that dredging or
> ship groundings can smother any of the species of concern. Such incidents
> are of limited extent, and they are preventable and can be controlled.
> Unfortunately, listing them as threatened or endangered cannot abate the
> widespread death of Caribbean coral species due to disease. Listing is
> therefore a totally useless act that likely may have unintended or sinister
> preplanned consequences.
> Black-band disease has devastated the Montastrea group of corals, yet
> we do not know the causes both in Florida and around sparsely populated
> islands of the Caribbean. Listing certainly will not bring those species
> back to full health. The same can be said about Dendrogyra cylindrus that is
> distributed throughout the Caribbean but never in great abundance. Colonies
> of that coral still grow in the FKNMS where all corals are protected. That
> species never was abundant in the 50+ years the author has been diving there
> (Shinn 2011). Dichocoenia stokesii is a minor component on reefs that
> automatically dies when it reaches the size of a soccer ball. Many died from
> what was called white plague (a form of bleaching that started at the base
> of the coral) in the 1980s. One can still find healthy Dichocoenia, and
> there is little disease today. Furthermore, it is not a significant reef
> builder. I have no idea why Agaricia lamarcki or Mycetophyllia ferox are
> included on the list. They certainly are not keystone reef builders, and I
> am certain they are not threatened throughout their range. As I remember
> from the first attempt to list D. cylindrus back in the 1970s, a species
> must be threatened throughout its range to qualify for E.S.A listing. One
> has to wonder about the benefit of listing these corals since it simply
> creates more rules and regulations, not to mention paper, time, and effort,
> and be ineffective at saving these species. We can all remember the
> Caribbean-wide demise of the urchin Diadema antillarum in the early 1980s
> some 30 years ago. Diadema remains rare and nowhere near its former
> abundance. Had that pivotal coral reef organism been listed in the 1980s,
> would it have been brought back to pre die-off levels? Of course not!
> Acropora cervicornis died off at roughly the same time as Diadema. If A.
> cervicornis had been listed back in the 1980s, would it be flourishing
> today? One has to wonder what the coral reef and the CBD benefits from
> listing of these corals?
> I suspect what is behind the proposed listing is coral bleaching that
> may be caused by a warming ocean that the IPCC and Al Gore say is caused by
> increasing levels of CO2 that have been rising and currently approaching
> 0.004 percent of the atmosphere. That is a worldwide highly contentious
> political issue that will not be resolved soon. Is that why the CBD wants
> these corals listed? Or is it the threat of alkalinity shift, a.k.a. ocean
> acidification? All thinking people know that CO2 will stay in the atmosphere
> and oceans for many years if anthropogenic sources ceased tomorrow. The
> lawyers at CBD surely are aware of that. Maybe their action is a way to
> squeeze tax-exempted funding from gullible and frightened citizens?
> What is their motive or motives? Why is CBD doing this? Is there some
> collusion between CBD/lawyers and the government agencies that will squeeze
> more money from Congress to administer the extra burden of enforcement? I do
> know that whether they win or lose their lawsuit against NOAA, our taxes pay
> their legal fees. Now that's a pretty cynical motive but as they say,
> "follow the money." And finally, why is National Marine Fisheries involved
> with coral protection, especially within NOAA Marine Sanctuaries where all
> corals are already protected? If there is government waste and overlap, then
> this may be a poster-boy example. Gene
> Shinn, E.A., Reich, C.D., Hickey, T.D., and Lidz, B.H., 2003, Staghorn
> tempestites in the Florida Keys: Coral Reefs, v. 22, p.
> 91-97.
> Shinn, E.A., 2004, The mixed value of environmental regulations: Do
> acroporid corals deserve endangered species status? Marine Pollution
> Bulletin, v. 49, p. 531-533.
> Shinn, E.A., 2011, Are we loving 'em to death? Marine Pollution Bulletin, v.
> 62, p. 2581-2583.

'Apocalyptic' island of waste in the Maldives     5/20/12
> Hello Bob,
> I wasn't aware of this at all. Looks terrible. Overblown for the news media, or a real problem?
> http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-18073917
> Cheers, Neale<Yikes! Didn't know the situation was this bad. Have never been to the Mascarenes. But would like to; before they settle into the sea from a surplus of land waste! BobF>

Scientific American, anti-marine aquarium wild-livestock collection piece   4/10/12
In case you didn't see this...
<Mmm, only a "handful" of people/businesses involved in ornamental marine culture in the U.S.... an underestimate; there are thousands I'd warrant. I do concur w/ deweaver and bajareef's useful comments. This is a one-sided, selected reference negative piece... A mention and list of captive produced life, institutions involved in their provision should at least have been offered. BobF

The Ethics conversation...Beginner Hobbyists: More proof that the "for the fishes" folks who are trying to shut down marine ornamental collection in HI know naught 2/9/12
> Aloha Christiane & Bob,<Rene>
> I'm surveying various industry folks, spurred conversations with Ret Talbot
> and others re: ethics in the trade/hobby.
> Three long time industry experts (2 from the mainland U.S; 1 in Hawaii) have
> shared their opinions with me that new hobbyists either kill "a lot" or
> "all" of their animals in the process of learning how to keep them. I
> imagine a very steep learning curve with associated animal losses that
> tapers
> off after a year or so for those still in the hobby.
<... what "experts", and what do you define as "a lot"? Humans kill "a lot" of life on this planet, including each other... Are you surprised? What other considerations are you presenting; as in other sources of mortality, the null-hypothesis (the cost of doing nothing)... higher and better uses?>
> In reading Christiane's recent article on idealism vs. reality I learned
> that she was once a part of MAC. Nearly 2 years ago, before leaving MAC as
> E.D., Dave Mainenti shared his opinion with me that the reasons why MAC
> hadn't worked was because "no one wants to address the real issues and take
> them to completion."
<Nah... he was and is a mental midget... the industry and general public refused to pay for the lack of real worth, progress of MAC. The folks running it had no real plan, means of attaining their stated/made up goals>
This had been in response to my description of the work
> I do which is "education and outreach on the impacts of the trade, trying to
> bring the hidden aspects into the public discourse. The idea being that no
> real reform will happen until the issues are being discussed openly and
> honestly."<What re other, much larger sources of mortality Rene?>
> I believe the high death rates incurred/caused by new hobbyists must be
> addressed openly and honestly - this is where the real education must
> happen. As a compromise position with the trade, I've shifted to supporting
> what I call the "Captive Bred is Best" campaign,
<The universe is not a zero-sum game... captive produced organisms are better in many times, places, regards, but they "cost" the environment nonetheless>
promoting ONLY captive bred animals for the hobby, never wild-caught.
<Uhh, akin to Adam and Eve in religious dogma... where are the original specimens going to come from?> Hand in hand with that, an
> education/outreach campaign aimed at stopping the inexperienced
> hobbyist/high animal mortalities must begin.
<How do you propose to accomplish this? Many of us in the trade, "content providers" strive to do just this... see my writings, web-sites>
> To that end I'm asking experts like yourselves to comment on the following
> possible solutions or provide their own:
> 1. Would starting off with corals/inverts only for a period of _______ (how
> long?) solve the problem?
<? What problem? Diminished losses? Not necessarily, no... many of these are too easily lost>
> 2. Or, are tanks with fish such different "animals" that it wouldn't make
> much of a difference in the survival success rate?<I'm not understanding what exactly you're getting at? Do you mean are there differential mortalities for some non-vertebrate life compared w/ vertebrate? If so, indeed yes; but not one group vs. the other. That is, there are very hardy (for aquarium use) species/groups of both, and by the same tokens, ones of both camps that are not hardy at all>
> 3. To what extent would stocking with ONLY captive bred animals help solve
> the problem beginners face (assuming captive bred survive best)?
<Look to other animal groups... the Psittacine/hook-billed birds in the U.S. for example; the history of their keeping, regulation; results thereof... for historical trends here. What one sees is a narrowing of keeping by "middle to lower class" people, a deep recession in their use en toto; a cessation of business in their trade... AND ultimately, a loss of public interest period, the blind apathy that comes w/ such lack of husbandry, awareness, and the abandonment to degrees of protection of the species involved, their habitats in the wild. This is your legacy. Bob Fenner>
> Looking forward to your thoughts on this.
> Mahalo,
> Rene Umberger

Re: The Ethics conversation...Beginner Hobbyists. Richard Ross shares his input
Thanks Bob, I find the whole conversation very interesting, and its a good thought game to see what I might really think about the entire issue as well as to pick at the ethics article I have been playing with for over a year because it is so darn complex. I reserve the right to change my mind about anything written below. :D It seems to me that many of the 'anti hobby' positions are very narrow, but try to use wider ammunition which is usually a mistake. For instance, dogs and cats are protected under animal law as Bob's forwarded email says, but 4-5 million dogs and cats are killed in shelters every year (and that's only deaths in shelters, not at the Veterinarians office, at home, escaped, puppy mills etc and I think we have little accurate information on how many birds and small mammals are killed in the pet trade every year). Yes, these are valid points to some extent, which is why all three of my dogs are pound puppies. I also refuse to keep birds, though I love them dearly and would love to have them near me, because it is inhumane to keep them caged and flightless. As for deaths at shelters, humane euthanasia is a far cry from death by suffocation, starvation, injury and disease associated with a trade in wildlife and were likely talking about double that number of fishes dying that way.
It really depends on what you call humane euthanasia. The euthanasia that most people see for pets is an injection, but that is not how the bulk of shelter animals are killed due to the large numbers of animals that are 'processed'. Most of them are killed in a version of a gas chamber via inhalants and both of the inhalants used for dogs and cats, Carbon monoxide and Carbon dioxide are considered by many to not be humane and is essentially death by suffocation. There is also plenty of other inhumane treatment at some of the 5000 US shelters that people are just not aware of. This however, may not really be Germaine because I think your position is more about animals local to your state. If you are worried about inhumane deaths of fishes, or even numbers of fishes taken, why are you not going after food fishing and sport fishing, as from the data I have seen both of those catches in your state outpace the Aquarium Fishery and they way those animals are killed contains no humanity whatsoever.
While animal cruelty laws surely help curtail animal abuse, it certainly isn't the case that these animals are somehow regarded as special as their deaths are hidden from general public view in much the same way as the deaths of animals in the Aquarium Fisheries are not trotted out in the public eye. If people really want to reform the way aquarists keep fish and invertebrates, I think a look at the bigger picture of pet keeping is the fair place to start. Well, I think this issue is large enough as it is without widening it to include all animals.
I think that is an ethically odd position, and ignores the suffering of many higher vertebrates. This however, may not really be Germaine because I think your position is more about animals local to your state. Reform of the way the Aquarium world is handled is certainly on the table. Perhaps the idea of an Aquarium License, in the same way you need a dog license, would be a direction to start. Of course, there are no cat or bird or small mammal licenses, and the utility of a dog license is questionable and in fact seems to be more about protecting people rather than protecting animals. I like this idea, though I dont see it ever happening. Besides, a child can care for a bird, a cat, a dog, but how many children can set up a saltwater aquarium and provide the necessary care to a wild reef fish?
Children, and their parents who arent really involved in the pet care, kill and abuse tons of small mammals, amphibians and reptiles. This however, also may not really be Germaine because I think your position is more about animals local to your state.
I don't think I have much of a problem with the idea of applying animal cruelty laws to aquarium animals - that way the people behaving poorly are punished instead of punishing everyone. Dogs are not banned because some people don't leash their dogs to prevent them from running rampant, instead we have leash laws, and to me, this makes sense. Banning collection to protect habitat doesn't make sense - make laws that promote responsible collection, and punish those that break those laws. 'Anti hobby' people seem to think that the worlds reefs are in danger from the 'hobby'. While I don't think this is the case, at least not in any substantial way, the solution is not to ban the hobby, but to better protect the resource. Yes the costs of shipping and aquaculture usage need to be in the equation, but at the same time so do local economies and local understanding and protection of reef resources. There are more than just downsides, and that is part of what the emotional stances against the Aquarium Fisheries seem to ignore. Being on the ground here in Hawaii gives the many thousands of Hawaii residents against the trade plenty of reason to want the trade banned. Even if yellow tangs werent being depleted by 73% on the Big Island and 90% on Oahu, and instead were impacted by some more reasonable number say depleted by 10, 20, 30%, as a reef community we would still be acutely aware of that loss. What you fail to recognize is that we get in the water, every day, and we see whats missing the beautiful species targeted by the trade/hobby and we remember when it wasnt that way. When you add to that the level of loss/death/waste that we are also aware of, you see why it is simply unacceptable. We dont want our fish missing and we definitely dont want them missing because theyre being used as a disposable ornaments under the care of folks without a clue, or even those who mean well, but lack the skill.
The data doesnt seem to support that position. The data show that there are more yellow tangs and Kole tangs than in previous years. I appreciate that you dont see animals every day in the water, but I am worried that blaming the Aquarium fishery is not really fair as the other impacts on your states reef animals run off, siltation, tourism, boat engine leakage, development, sport fishing, food fishing, etc surely have more impact on the animals you see than the Aquarium Fishery. The problem is that it is easy to point to Aquarium Fishers, but it is hard to point to run off because you cant really take an emotional picture of it, its even harder to point to people food fishing because its hard to tell people not to eat, and it's hard to point to recreational fishing because of the money that brings into the local economy. I am worried that the anti trade people are going after the Aquarium Fishery, especially calling for an all out ban on the fishery, because it is easy, not because it it is the culprit, and are ignoring the more impactful, more difficult to address human activities that effect the numbers of fish you see every day. The science shows that the Aquarium Fishery is not the problem, so I have a hard time getting behind the current anti trade positions. Yes, there is a learning curve at that conquering seems to entail the deaths of marine organisms, but that is true for any pet keeping. I have never heard of such a thing this is simply not true. I must be misunderstanding you
--Reptiles, amphibians, birds and small animals are killed all the time as people learn how to provide their specialized needs. The 5 million dogs and cats killed at shelters come from somewhere including people realizing that its too much work. To single out marine aquaria seems emotional and myopic. How many hamsters are killed by little kids because they are sold as cuddly furry pets when they turn out to be nocturnal biting machines? Hamsters are captive bred not wild animals. It is well understood that the premature deaths associated with wild-caught animals in the aquarium trade has a direct effect on the level of take: individual animals, local populations and their associated reefs are impacted. In the case of captive bred fish/inverts, this is obviously not be the case which is why captive bred are touted as the more sustainable way to go.
---Again, the data seem not to support this position. I just want to clarify, is it acceptable that captive bred animals are killed in pet keeping? Again, perhaps pet keeping should be what they should be taking on, rather than just the small subset of pet keepers that is the 'hobby'. I do recommend that new aquarium keepers start with captive raised animals, but I don't see a good way to make that a requirement, nor do I see a good way to enforce such a requirement. Public/peer pressure and education.
--- There is a lot of that already, but it is not any kind of enforcement. I also don't see a good way to force education on people before the enter the hobbymost of the learning curve is based on experience, not knowledge, just like any hobby. I don't feel good about telling anyone that they can't participate in any hobby they are interested in - I am not a fan of sport mammal hunting, but as long as its done in a reasonable, sustainable way, why should I stop anyone from doing it. Ethical hunters are aware of the hunters credo and strive for a clean kill. The importance of minimizing animal suffering is acknowledged and practiced. The suffering of reef wildlife in aquaria is downplayed, ignored, and worse. Animals are routinely injured, starved, poisoned, tortured in the process of getting them from reef to establishment in a hobby tank. The losses are unacceptable. Only those with vested interests (financially or emotionally) are ok with it.
---I can understand wanting to change that, what I dont understand is calling for an all out ban on the Aquarium Fishery. If the argument switches to 'we want legislation that supports a well regulated, responsible and sustainable Aquarium Fishery' I think you would get much support. If a law was written that Aquarium Fishers were to strive for humane collection, in the same way as hunters are to strive or clean kills, would you accept that as a way to address the issue? I think the same should apply to saltwater aquarium keeping and if the 'hobby' and 'anti hobby' people spent time working on making it reasonable and sustainable, the entire world would benefit through the education, resource appreciation and further understanding of the natural world. Our mission is to get the truth about the trade out to the public where real pressure can be applied. Furthering the understanding of the natural world can be done through reading and watching videos.
---I appreciate your enthusiasm, but I fear that you arent disseminating the truth, as the science doesnt support many of the claims that anti trade people make. While I dont have a problem changing the trade to make it more sustainable and even more expensive, I dont think the argument that reading and watching videos compares to actual experience. Thanks for the discussion. I find it fascinating. Rich
Richard Ross
Aquatic Biologist, Steinhart Aquarium
California Academy of Sciences

Re: The Ethics conversation...Beginner Hobbyists ("for the fishes", for the birds)
Rene Umberger wrote: Hi Rich, In an effort to stay on point, Ive ignored the comments that arent on topic and responded to your red comments below. The discussion is about aquarists accidentally killing wildlife at what Keiron Dodds described as astronomical rates , and how new hobbyists, in particular, kill a lot/all of the animals under their care while figuring it all out. I disagree with your defense of that comparing it to all pet deaths since the vast majority of pet owners do not accidentally kill their pets (with life-spans measured in years/decades) within days/weeks/months of getting them. Also, I think education efforts to date have failed because it is illogical to think that education attempting to address the issue would be effective when the underlying belief/message is that its actually ok that the fish are prematurely dying. For those who believe that something can and should be done, Im asking about solutions that will significantly reduce unnecessary (i.e. unethical) deaths associated with beginner hobbyists. As for the whole Hawaii trade sustainable vs. unsustainable argument, it comes down to a difference in how the data are being interpreted. The data show that there are more yellow tangs and Kole tangs than in previous years. An as yet unpublished 3 year study on Oahu reefs shows targeted species down by 90%. On West Hawaii reefs, the data show that the gap between the collected vs. protected areas is widening. 1.5 years ago, the state biologist in charge referred to that gap as alarming and unsustainable. In addition, their data shows that despite management, many aquarium targeted species are in decline, overall, not just in the collected areas. Just because he now chooses to interpret the data in a way that suggests everything is hunky dory, doesnt make it so. You must by now know that his new boss the head of the department was a commercial collector who didnt give up his permit until 6 months after becoming dept. head and who is now refuting the conclusions made by former administrations of trade related degradation because he was there [collecting] so he knows. Other biologists have seen the data and agree with the initial interpretation of the data not the new dept. spin. A comparison between collected and protected areas is the most logical approach. Following the new spin, one could say that no management is necessary in Hawaii let the free for all continue because of all the fish in the NW Hawaiian Islands. Where does it end? I appreciate that you dont see animals every day in the water, but I am worried that blaming the Aquarium fishery is not really fair as the other impacts on your states reef animals run off, siltation, tourism, boat engine leakage, development, sport fishing, food fishing, etc surely have more impact on the animals you see than the Aquarium Fishery. Studies show something else entirely: the species missing are those targeted for aquaria or for food. Run off, siltation, tourism, boat engine leakage, development doesnt target species and long-nosed Butterflyfishes, Moorish Idols, cleaner wrasses, teardrop Butterflyfishes, Fourspot Butterflyfishes, yellow tangs etc.. are not significantly consumed as food the way Kole and Achilles tangs are. This is where ethics intersects with the environment, because its the premature deaths in the trade/hobby that drive collection rates and negatively impact wild populations. The vast majority of Hawaii residents want their fish to stay here. They believe that the vast difference in collected vs. protected areas for targeted species is unacceptable. They favor a ban in Hawaii for many reasons including simple cost/benefit analyses showing the high value of wildlife, by an order of magnitude, when its left on the reefs. Hawaii is not an emerging nation feeling the need to exploit natural resources at all costs, so that excuse for allowing wild collection is even less true here than in Indonesia, the P.I., etc.. In addition, they favor a ban because its the simplest way to address the unethical & culturally inappropriate treatment Hawaiis wildlife is subjected to in the trade/hobby. I just want to clarify, is it acceptable that captive bred animals are killed in pet keeping? The reasonable person accepts accidental/premature deaths, however to the extent that premature deaths are predictable and therefore avoidable, they become more and more unacceptable. For numerous reasons, wildlife is most susceptible to premature death in the hobby more so it seems than captive bred, so captive bred becomes the better alternative. Of the species able to be captive bred, only those that are able to survive well under the care of the most inexperienced hobbyists should be offered in the trade. And by well, I mean the majority of animals kept in aquaria are surviving as long or longer than their wild potential, since predation has been removed, theoretically, and food is appropriate & abundant, again theoretically. If a law was written that Aquarium Fishers were to strive for humane collection, in the same way as hunters are to strive or clean kills, would you accept that as a way to address the issue? Well, that does only solve part of the problem. In Maui county we have a law pertaining to collection prohibiting fizzing, fin/spine cutting and starving/purging for more than 24 hours for transport purposes. The multi-disciplined task force that developed and approved these agreed proper decompression was better than fizzing, appropriate bagging was better than fin cutting and shipping in higher volumes of water better than prolonged starvation. But as you know, each step in the COC has its own issues, and all need to be addressed. And since were talking about deaths caused by beginner hobbyists, thats what Im hoping solutions can be found for. Could it be that ultimately, the highest positive impact will come through addressing the deaths caused by new hobbyists? Assuming that you are writing from a professional rather than hobbyist point of view, knowing the high death rates associated with fish keeping, it seems that public/private display aquaria would be aligned with captive bred as best for the hobby instead of aligned with the trades reliance, to date, on wild-caught. In a world where wild-caught reef animals are no longer the standard for the hobby, your supply will end up costing more, but youll find ways to get your wildlife just as zoos do. Finally, zoos are not perceived as choosing the rights of exotic animal owners and the trade supplying those animals over whats best for the animals and their ecosystems. Public/private display aquaria may soon have to come to terms with this. Aloha, Rene
Richard Ross Replies
Hi Rene,
Thanks for taking the time to reply.
I don't think I can seriously take into consideration an unpublished study because practically it doesn't exist, and upon peer review it could be found that the pre publication information you are relying on doesn't hold up. You also mention other studies, and without knowing which studies you are talking about I cannot comment on them one way or the other. I would also be interested in the data that shows what the vast majority of Hawaiian residents think about the issues. I am not really all that interested in the he said, she said of politics or science and actually think discussion at that level hurts everyone, but if you send them to me, I would be happy to try to find time to review the science or the written positions of the other biologists you mention you are using to support your positions. If the data is ambiguous as you allude, perhaps a smarter first step would be to get funding for better data rather than championing bans.
Given the amount of tourism money that flows into Hawaii, I find it odd that anyone would argue that the state does not need to exploit its natural resources. It seems the state is essentially based on exploiting natural resources, and saying that one kind of exploitation is acceptable, but another isn't makes it difficult to feel like a genuine solution to the issues is really being sought. In the same vein, if there is an ethical issue with the way that animals in the Aquarium trade die that is causing you to take action, then I don't see how we can get away from having the same ethical issue, and taking the similar action, towards Recreational Fishing or Food Fishing as the way those animals are intentionally killed is arguably inhumane.
I do think there may be issues with the Aquarium Fishery chain of custody that need to be addressed, but proposing an outright ban is bound to be more hackle raising than solution finding. It also seems difficult to have a real discussion about ways to address issues in the wider hobby when it seems like the anti trade supporters are trying to shut down the hobby. The idea that the only animals that should be allowed in the trade should be the ones that the most inexperienced aquarists can care for seems odd as well as it seems akin to only allowing people to keep dogs of the size and breeds that the most inexperienced dog keepers can handle. The world is more interesting than the lowest common denominator.
Just to be clarify, everything I have written is my own personal point of view and in no way reflects the opinions or positions of any institution I am affiliated with. I am writing as a person with almost 30 years experience with saltwater animals. I, and many like me, have been working incredibly hard at cracking the nut of captive bred marine animals, often at significant personal expense. Captive bred is a fantastic idea, but as of now, it is simply not the panacea that some would want it to be. Even if it was a panacea, the need for some level of wild stocks would still be there. Banning all collection in your State could effectively kill the possibility that Hawaiian captive bred animals could ever be practically available, which seems like a bad thing for many reasons.
Finally, I think the ethical positions and the scientific positions are getting confused. I worry that this whole issue is being driven by emotionally fueled ethical positions that are trying to be presented as sustainability positions, but fear that the two don't line up. I find the ethical discussion riveting, but don't think it has much of a place determining the sustainability of a fishery. I have ethical issues with sport hunting/fishing, but as long as the science shows that it is sustainable or even necessary, I am not going to act against it. If sport hunting/fishing was not sustainable, that would be a different discussion based on data. It seems to me that your states Aquarium fishery is directly analogous to sport hunting/fishing. If the data show that collection practices are sustainable (and they seem to) the fishery should continue, and if there are animal treatment issues in that fishery, it seems more fair and rational to address those directly instead of trying to shut the fishery down.
Thanks again for your time,
Rich Ross

Re: The Ethics conversation...Beginner Hobbyists, Adam Blundell input
Bob has far more experience and rationale than I do. But I've had this conversation many times with people. Here are my quick two points
1) I mow my lawn every week. Yep, cut it down and throw it out. But there isn't a lawn shortage here in my neighborhood. It's completely sustainable. In fact during the summer months I have to mow my lawn once per week just to keep it the same. Reefs in many ways are the same. Remove all the Amphiprions at one time and they are gone forever. But remove a handful a day and their population will never see it. In fact, lots of them die every single day in the wild... and at some point they all die. I guess one could argue that we are saving them from an inevitable death in the wild by giving them a chance at life in our aquariums.
2) Want me to sign a petition banning the collection of fish for the aquarium trade? Believe it or not, but I would. I'd sign it as long as it also includes the banning of collecting fish for food. If people want to protect reefs, save the "fragile" ecosystem and populations of reef fishes then by all means lets band together to stop the practice of eating fish.
I guarantee you that most people kill way, way, way more fish in their lifetimes than I have. Same goes for invertebrates. Ask yourself this.... "How many salmon have you eaten? How many shrimp have you eaten? How many lobsters have you eaten? How many tilapia or mahi mahi and snapper and hogfish have you eaten." I can answer all those questions by saying ZERO!
Couple more points that I try to stress to my students...
Fishes taken for the aquarium trade (even if they lived but a few days) may be out living their counterparts in the wild. Remember that for every one fish that lives for even a year on the reef there have been tens of thousands that died off in that same time. Catching small fishes and especially larval fishes is often their best chance for survival. If I were a larval fish I'd much go to an aquarium than take my chances in the wild.
Catching fish for food does virtually nothing to educate. Catching fish for recreation does virtually nothing to educate. However, catching fish for aquariums allows for people all around the world (even right here in Salt Lake City) to learn about marine life, appreciate it, and want to protect it. People in Salt Lake City don't really care if the Whimbrel goes extinct (we've never seen one) but they do care about Tigers because our local zoo has them. Aquariums in homes serve as immense source of inspiration, education, and source of appreciation for marine life. Just judging by the hundreds.... yes, not dozens, but hundreds of people that visit my house each year to see my aquariums is example enough.
If we want to do something to protect the reefs of Hawaii we have two great choices. 1- ban people from living there. We do a pretty good job of this only allowing people on about 1% of the islands. and 2- educate people about the wonderful animals that call Hawaii home. We do an okay job of this, it would be better if we could simply get more hobbyists, but thankfully the aquarium hobby is doing something (is any else?) to educate people all over the country.
Adam "don't listen to people who are passionate... they are biased" Blundell

Coral Reef algae removal by vacuum 1/22/12
This is a email we sent to NOAA maybe someone can help us get this to the proper location in Australia so they could take a look at same and see if it has any value for Australia.
<John... I don't think this tool can be made to work on actual coral reefs... too easy to damage the desirable organisms trying to remove the algae... and the latter regenerates very quickly in most circumstances. Enduring control resides in changing those circumstances. Bob Fenner>
NOAA scientist
I read about a giant underwater vacuum cleaner they call the Super Sucker that has been used to clean coral reefs of Algae. I have invented a underwater vacuum that is used to remove spent garnet (abrasive) from abrasive water jet tanks. The tool is simple can be worked by a single person and in water jet tanks we can remove 2000 pounds of abrasive in less than a hour. The design is scale-able. The tool creates much more vacuum then any other known design. You can see the tool being used to pick up garnet (abrasive) on YouTube here
I am the inventor John D Shepherd. I have used the tool to clean out manholes, floor drains, pull sand from beaches, and rivers. I would be very interested in letting you try a tool to see if it would work for your project on the reefs.
Contact me if you are interested john d shepherd jdshep1@yahoo.com I have 18 patents and several pending. This is a link to this patent app on Google patents (you can search Google patents for john d shepherd and find same)
Re: Coral Reef algae removal by vacuum 1/23/12

I sent this because I read a super sucker vacuum was being used to clean a reef by NOAA.
<Perhaps experimentally. In a similar application, years (decades) back when our service division did lake management there was gear that did suction, cutting and clearing (as in cattail, Typhacean control)... Too
Our tool is scale-able and adjustable.
<John, the organisms themselves are too delicate, and many Thallophytes, the Monerans called Blue Greens too adhesive for this technology to be effective. What's more, the conditions that allow such algal proliferation must need be addressed/improved or no physical control will be of use in time. See Martin Moe's work are Urchins in the tropical W. Atlantic, other's work w/ Scarids/Parrotfishes and their role here, the real issue of nutrient availability... Just sucking out a large percentage of algae biomass will in short time do no good unless the a priori causes of the pest overgrowth are fixed>
If someone is having success with the other tool I read about in the story this might be an option. You are the experts, but if you could tell me what you need to be successful we may be able to help.
NOAA scientist

Proposed 1 in 3 No Take versus Total Ban 12/2/11
Hi Bob and Crew,
Curious as to your thoughts on Senator Espero's proposed 1-in-3 no-take proposal for Hawaii versus other proposals of a total ban on sale of aquatic life for aquarium purposes throughout Hawaii. It doesn't seem like there is much scientific evidence involved supporting any of these proposals:
<There is not>
Thanks for all you do for us in the reef hobby,
<Am not in favour of any outright ban. The industry should be licensed of course, as it is now, but with enough cost to participate to fund regulation and real scientific sampling of the resource and fisheries impact. Bob Fenner>

Subject: Hawaii reef fish in the ornamental trade: Impact: zip 11/23/11
Searching the web, I found your site.
I am supporting a ban on the Aquarium Trade here on the Big Island of Hawaii.
I was wondering if you had an opinion on the conditions of the reef fish and the sustainability of the Aquarium trade in Hawaii.
Mahalo for sharing your thoughts.
Vivian T
Robert M. Fenner
"Sources of Mortality on the World's Reefs: How Important is the Aquarium Hobby?"
Are collectors for the aquarium trade the "defilers of nature" and "raiders of the reef" that some critics claim?
A former marine livestock collector, underwater photographer, and advocate of responsible aquarium keeping takes an objective--and introspective--look at the how the majority of aquatic life meets its fate in and out of the world's seas. What types and degrees of mortality are due to human activity, including ornamental aquatics?
Bob Fenner is a marine biologist, former science teacher, and a leading proponent for the sustainable collection, sale, and keeping of reef organisms. His professional experience encompasses livestock collection, wholesaling, as well as aquatic retail, design, construction and maintenance as a manager, owner, hatchery worker, retail clerk, technician, and consultant. He is the author of The
Conscientious Marine Aquarist (Microcosm). Bob lives in San Diego, California, and is active disseminating aquatic information via wetwebmedia.com.
<I do not support such bans... for the science and observations archived (and searchable) on the Net, in the pulp press, and in my presentations. Bob Fenner>

BBC E-mail: "Shocking" decline seen in oceans 6/20/11
Neale saw this story on the BBC News website and thought you should see it.
** "Shocking" decline seen in oceans **
The oceans are in a worse state than previously suspected, with mass extinction of marine species looming, according to a panel of scientists.
< http://www.bbc.co.uk/go/em/fr/-/news/science-environment-13796479 >
<Not cheering. BobF>

creatures were washed up on shore, post tsunami 4/23/2011
Hello Bob,
Thought you might like this.
James, whose images are these? Can/could we just direct people to where they're already posted on the Net? B
re: creatures were washed up on shore 4/23/2011
Sure thing Bob. Here is one link.
Not quite the detail as the ones I sent you but they probably can be zoomed in on.
<Real good. B>

BBC E-mail: Audio slideshow: Sea nomads 2/6/11
> Neale Monks saw this story on the BBC News website and thought you should see it.
> ** Audio slideshow: Sea nomads **
> How life is changing for the Bajau Laut people - who have lived for centuries in the waters off Indonesia.
> < http://www.bbc.co.uk/go/em/fr/-/news/world-12354346 >
Thank you Neale. B

who is forthefishes 1/27/11
Hi Rob,
do you know who's forthefishes.org running?
Christiane Schmidt
Yes... Snorkel Bob: http://www.snorkelbob.com/
Re: For The Fishes 1/27/11
Christiane, may I post your rebuttal on WWM? Have you sent this to James Lawrence of Coral Magazine? I would like to forward it to him as well.
Bob Fenner
Subject: For The Fishes 1/27/11
Hi forthefishes.org,
"The best way to manage it for the benefit of all is to stop the trade. It's that simple." (http://www.forthefishes.org/)
It is this conclusion that puzzles me on your interesting website. When visiting our organizations website, you will learn that we are fully supportive of your criticism on sustainability issues of the marine aquarium trade. However we are convinced that improvement and any real conservational benefit can only be reached and implemented by the user of a natural resource.
It seems unrealistic to simply close a trade by regulation and think the problem is solved. As you state on your website not even existing regulation to manage the trade is successfully enforced: "Millions of Hawaii's reef animals are collected annually, but no one knows the exact numbers because less than 50% of required collection reports are filed and none are verified against actual catch."
So how to control a trade ban?
I also wonder if this is aiming at the marine aquarium trade in Hawai'i only? It looks like and while in a relatively small area like the Hawaiian Islands collection, stocks and law enforcement might be manageable, in vast archipelagos like the Philippines or Indonesia this is not the case (especially when considering the developing nations status of these countries and the given infrastructure).
You state: "Furthermore, there is a common misconception that fish populations will always recover when fishing pressure is released. Recovery has occurred in many cases, but in other cases it has not, even after many years'¦" So what would a ban bring then?
Shouldn't people who love marine fish so much that they want to live with them get their acts together and feel responsible for what they might create with their demand, thus demand an effective regulation/management of marine aquarium collection and an ethical and sustainable trade with their beloved tank mates? I believe that a change in thinking and behaviour has to be created to effectively conserve natural resources.
When you say that the management measures taken do not stop population declines, that tells me that the management strategy is not yet effective enough. It is interesting though to note that all three curves (including the one for FRAs) show a similar declining trend. In the open areas one could even note slight positive trend in 2009 instead of further decline as in the FRAs or MPAs.
I was contacted by the Hawaiian government to comment on the proposed white list as they became aware of our list of species we discuss to be unsuitable for the average hobbyist and/or unsustainable (e.g. because targeted also by other industries in a more drastic way than marine aquarium collection ever will). We can input on species where evidence suggests they will not survive long in captivity (e.g. because of diet, etc.), however telling if any Hawaiian species is over-collected is not in my capacity. I believe and read from your side there exist stock assessments, e.g. for Zebrasoma flavescens. So from such figures fisheries management can and should refine its measures and introduce e.g. Total Allowable Catch/ quotas instead of limiting the number of permits. Quotas can be shared equally among all collectors or sold by bidding...there are several approaches...Raising awareness among marine hobbyists is another one.
I suggest instead of pressing for unrealistic measures like trade bans you should aim at reliable fishery management and push for law enforcement. You are absolutely right in stating that "Hawaii's coral reef wildlife is important to the reefs and ocean ecosystems, to the Hawaiian culture, to resident snorkelers, divers and fishers, and to tourism.". You include fishers in your statement - you should include them in your efforts and mission as well.
We would be happy to support such joint approach as buyers from Hawaiian collectors.
Kind regards,
Re: For The Fishes 1/27/11
feel free to use it, although I would love to add something about the mortality rates they cite....the consignments of up to 1000 yellow tangs I witnessed arriving here in Germany (or France) had 0 - 0.3% DOA and usually 0 DAA. The yellow tang is quite a hardy species, I think, but I agree it makes one wonder where the masses end up, especially when considering that nearly nobody could keep a school of them.
<I do concur, and penned a pc. for JamesL/Coral re Z. flavescens... as a rebuttal of sorts as well. It has yet to run>
Anyway, post if you like and pass on to James. I had contacted James yesterday with another article (1st of a series of three) I wrote in the scope of our outreach campaign 'Where do our fish come from?' to raise awareness of the possible social, ethical and environmental implications the trade might have in major source countries like Indonesia and the Philippines (I append it here). We develop articles, lectures and an exhibition to e.g. illustrate collection with the very basic equipment most of those collectors use.
<And you, BobF>
Christiane Schmidt
R. Umberger, "for the fishes"... and the folks who make money from them otherwise 1/28/11

Hi Rob,
who is Rene Umberger? See reply below.
<Put her name in Google... she's an owner/operator of a scuba service in Maui, Hawaii. There is quite a bit of enmity twixt some operators in the dive trade toward the "trop" industry there. BobF>
Hi Christiane,
Thanks for your thoughtful message. I believe the main difference between our campaigns is that we are looking at what's best for the fish and what's best for the reefs. Clearly there is no argument that taking them for use in a hobby is better than leaving them on the reef. I know there are aquarium trade supporters who like to say that it's an important job source for villagers, but that is a myth propagated to justify the taking, just as was done for taking wild parrots. Of course, it turned out to be not the case. Here in Hawaii, these collectors will simply switch to taking food fish.
The U.S. has federal laws that will support Hawaii's trade ban. It works just fine for our coral and live rock and will work even better for our fishes and critters.
It also worked a hundred years ago to stop the devastation to wild bird populations that were being taken for use as hat and clothing ornaments. The "natural resource" user could not be depended upon to stop themselves, just as fashion designers and consumers couldn't be educated to stop purchasing items with bird feathers. The trade was banned and it worked. And... guess what... people didn't go hungry and die... well, actually, 2 rangers died protecting the birds, but that's different, isn't it?
The other thing about enforcement is that most people are law abiding. Laws act as strong deterrents. Enforcement is needed for the rest. Sure poaching will happen, that too, is human nature. But our animals won't be taken by the millions by poachers - that's for sure.
Once the trade in wild caught fishes is stopped, real R & D funds for captive propagation will be invested.
A ban takes the pressure off populations and reef dynamics.
I'm the one who put the Hawaiian government in touch with you. You see, our collectors lie and lie about these animals, saying anything to keep the status quo.
They want to be able to take all the animals - who cares if they die shortly after being taken, as long as they live long enough to be sold.
I think they made one change to the list, removing Moorish Idols.
But here's what you're up against and why you will ultimately need to switch to captive bred only:
These animals aren't surviving for anywhere near their natural capacity. This goes against Western societal norms.
Sure there are experienced aquarists who have been able to keep some alive for long periods - but they are anomalies.
The vast majority of home aquarists are beginners - out of the hobby in a year. The majority of retailers only have 2 years of fish keeping experience.
No fish can be kept alive when subjected to poor treatment. Their tolerance range is very narrow - unlike other animals.
Killing wildlife for this use is inhumane, unethical, harmful to coral reef ecosystems and to communities who visit them for inspiration, food, etc.
The aquarium trade is doing a good job of pulling the wool over people eyes - even today, the vast majority of people we encounter have no idea they are viewing wild caught animals in these tanks - NO IDEA. When they find out, they are horrified. This is what you're up against. Society, not us. We're just the channel.
Rene Umberger
Subject: Re: R. Umberger
Thanks. I know what she's doing and where.
Just wanted more background info about her attitude, or rather, how big her influence is.
Christiane Schmidt
Hawaii is an amazing place for a few characteristics/traits. One is that most everyone acts like, even believes "they're in charge"... In this case, the scuba/snorkel industry wants the reefs and their biota for their own/exclusive use... Disavowing the damage done by their activities... What needs to happen is some sort of "enlightened leadership" w/ all users (trop. collectors, tourism operators, fishers...) deciding how best to get along. ALL are sources of mortality; ALL stand to benefit directly from conserving, carefully using resources. BobF
Demonizing of Aq. trade/HI, cont. 1/30/11

Hi Rene,
what I take mainly from your email is the huge gap between European and US hobby scene. If it is true what you describe, I'm wondering how a hobby can grow so big and pioneers in breeding and marine science derive from your country when on the other side people not even know that this is a wildlife trade. It's hard to believe ... In Europe there is no big variety of species sourced from Hawaii (Asia offers much bigger variety anyway). So it's mainly yellow tangs and flame angels (which are not even collected in Hawaii, but in Kiribati). I witnessed more than 20 arrivals of Hawaii consignments in Europe. None had a higher DOA rate than 0-0.5%. There is hardly any DAA (Dead After Arrival) and both species are known to thrive very well in captivity. So I wonder where your mortality figures come from.
It is clearly the goal of every serious hobbyist to breed and raise or study the organisms in its tank. As such the hobby same as public aquaria contributed a lot to our knowledge of coral reef creatures and brings coral reefs to the attention of people, who would have never heard of them otherwise (I know that is hard to imagine when you live close to one ...)
It seems you know your marine ornamental collectors not very well. I had the pleasure to visit many of them in 2004 and for me it is hard to imagine they would simply switch to food fish. I work in both businesses - believe me it is really a different pair of shoes. However I agree that collectors have an alternative in Hawaii. Maybe not so in other source countries, but obviously you care for Hawaii only.
Anyway, It seems you are not open to discussion and what I see is a very old fashioned approach of environmental dinosaurs 'forbid/ban everything'. Well, the next will be the divers and dive schools. Not loved by conservationists either, because of their often destructive habits ... And why seafood collection shall be anything better than the taking of marine ornamentals, remains unclear to me. If it is because of the better regulation (as you state on your website), I wonder again why you would prevent any further regulation and ask for a ban for the marine aquarium trade then.
You don't need to explain to me that this trade needs improvements in ethics and sustainability. That is what we in SAIA are working for. Surely not through a ban, but through awareness raising, education and cooperation with other stakeholders.
Well, I wish you all the best. What we benefit from too is the pressure you create on hobbyists and the trade. It makes them think and improve ... that's what we want. So I can even appreciate your work as an evil twin.
Kind regards,
Christiane Schmidt
Thank you Christiane. BobF
Re: Res 130-11... Challenges to the trade In Hawai'i 14/10/11

Hi Christiane, <And RMF>
The attached is the source for the 99% mortality rate. You'll see it's followed by the defense that it's acceptable because the animals are 'livestock' needed for industry profits. As you can see, we haven't been misquoting him, at all.
<I do see these statements... Would add this piece/article is some twenty plus years old. I would guess that incidental collecting, handling, shipping mortality is much less these years... but that total losses over a year's time likely are still 80-90 some %>>
I'll consider answering your questions, but I would like your answers to mine, first.
If you're claiming a significantly higher rate of survival, then please tell me where are all the fish?
Every year 30 million fish are taken from the world's reefs for the hobby. There's only an estimated 1.5 million hobbyists, worldwide. By Fenner's account most hobbyists quit within a year of getting into it.
So for whatever rate you claim, please tell me where the fish are.
Another way of looking at it: Yellow tangs have been shown to be very long lived in the wild. The average age in Kealakekua was 11 years old with many in their 20's and 30's and the oldest over 40.
<I do dispute this fact. I have dived at Cook's for many years... and have a degree in fisheries bio... there are few Zebrasoma flavescens of ten years age, none of thirty, forty...> Claisse and Bushnell's work on this was accepted in peer reviewed journals.
<Mmm, please send along /a complete citation/s>
What is the average longevity of captive Yellow Tangs? How many 11, 20, 30, 40 year olds are there?
<There are data for this... see John Walsh re> Please point me in the right direction. You're saying there are data for the hobby?
<Not the hobby. Please find a .pdf journal piece. RMF>
As I've tried to explain before, Hawaii residents cherish this wildlife and do not tolerate their use as your profit drivers.
<Collectors cherish the seas, the life in them as well as non-divers>
Their value to our communities far exceeds such treatment by your trade.
Looking forward to your responses.
<You have mine. Bob Fenner>
Re: Res 130-11 15/10/11

Dear Rene,
I see you two had already your exchange.
Now I would like to through my two cents in as well.
From the source you appended, I see that the mortality figure relates not only to the period of the fish being in the tank, but actually from capture to hobby tank. This is not the same context as it was cited.
Moreover I see that Bob's calculation is across potential supply sources, e.g. including from developing countries with infrastructure that forbids a straightforward transportation and where thus many intermediate handling steps and middlemen are involved. Transport from place of capture to the exporter can take up to 5 weeks alone (and that includes transport on nutshells at sea and mopeds on land). Unlike in Hawaii this is where the high mortality figures stem from.
<Yes; this is so. The value's approximated/guessed at are aggregate measures of central tendency: incorporate data from the worst to better (e.g. Hawaiian) sources>
I was and am working in these major sources of the marine aquarium trade to improve the situation there. Even there you will find improvements and I doubt that a mortality rate of appr. 40% up to the exporter level as indicated is viable for any business. However the majority of the businesses in the marine aquarium trade is long lived like a Yellow Tang.
These mortality figures certainly do not apply to Hawaii, where you were citing them and abusing them in a different context to make your case.
Most of the collection is done close to the wholesale/export stations and collectors sell their catch to the wholesaler/exporter immediately upon landing. In fact I see many of the collectors are employed or in long term supply relationships with the buyers, therefore only fishing on command (unlike in SE Asia). Within less than 12 hours at the very maximum (boat must go out quite some way), the fish are at the wholesale/export level. To reach a mortality rate of 40% in this time period you literally need to beat them death as if they were food fish. If you think they would all starve and die away in the wholesale/export facility, I would like to know how you imagine such business to survive more than a year when paying off the collectors, but then losing nearly half of what they sell?!
<Assuredly not>
Shipments from Hawaii, I witnessed arriving in Europe (thus transport and transition times much longer than compared to US market), had occasionally 0.5% DOA, but on average 0% DOA and maximum 1% DAA.
<Remarkable, commendable>
The average shipment from Hawaii to Europe is around 1000 specimens, with 20% originating from other Pacific Islands (Hawaii point of wholesale, export to EU).
I cannot claim any figure of survival rates in the hobbyist tanks and that is why I was asking you for your source. To my knowledge there has never been a survey in Europe that would have produced any statistics on this. So I would neither use them as accusation nor as defense.
Same applies to the number of fish taken from the reefs worldwide and hobbyists you state. I see many new markets in Eastern Europe and in Asia on the rise.
I can also not reply to your question on the average age a YT reaches in captivity. On the first hand we don't know the age of the fish when it reaches the hobbyist at all. Secondly I'm not aware of any statistically representative surveys. Clearly a ball in the court of the hobby aquarists to stand accounted for your questioning.
However, I dare asking you another question. You state "As I've tried to explain before, Hawaii residents cherish this wildlife and do not tolerate their use as your profit drivers." If that is the case, why do you call for a ban of aquarium fish collection only? Aren't you missing out targets? What about the impacts of commercial and non-commercial reef food fisheries, recreational fishing, charter sport fishing, diving, coastal development and pollution by the tourism industry? And this is only Hawaii and not including global issues like ocean acidification and rising ocean temperatures. The general trend of decline in fish population is the same in long term protected areas, FRAs and open areas - does this not speak for itself?
Fishery is fishery, if it is one for food with 100% mortality or for the aquarium trade with considerably little mortality. For the reef it is all the same - a removal of a specimen.
<Certainly the case... and as I and others have argued; artisanal fisheries for even "pet fish" species is far greater a source of mortality than the ornamental trade... w/ "habitat destruction"/pollution/environmental degradation no doubt being the single largest source. BobF>
In terms of sustainability: the food fisheries target big specimens, those mature adults that are needed for recruitment. Not so the aquarium trade. Anyway, both fisheries need to be managed and regulated. See Walsh: "Achilles tang has had low levels of recruitment over the past decade and substantial numbers of larger fish (i.e. 'breeders') are taken for human consumption." Why is it that this species shows higher densities in the open areas then, where aquarium collectors have access? However, I believe DAR came to the right conclusion to manage both fisheries of Achilles tangs equally: "DAR is currently in the process of developing a comprehensive package of size and bag limits for a number of popularly targeted species. There is a recommended bag limit of 10 Achilles tang/person/day which would apply to all harvesters including commercial fishers and aquarium collectors."
There are quite a lot of people on Hawaii making their living from marine natural resources. An outcry for an ecosystem based management seems more adequate than over-focusing on one of the stakeholders.
If it is about moral and ethics: what makes it morally better to eat reef fishes and remove them from a vulnerable resource? Is run-off from a hotel full with divers better for the reef than an aquarium collector?
Neither from our previous exchange nor from the testimony process I got a reply on my question why you are targeting the aquarium fishery/trade only? I would be grateful for clarification so that I can pass that on to our readers.
Considering this is already a lengthy email I skip other questions I developed while reading the For the fishes website.
Many thanks,
Christiane Schmidt
Re: Res 130-11 10/16/11

Dear Rene,
I see you two had already your exchange.
Now I would like to through my two cents in as well.
<<And RMF again here>>
From the source you appended, I see that the mortality figure relates not only to the period of the fish being in the tank, but actually from capture to hobby tank. This is not the same context as it was cited. That's right -- it's a year in captivity. But please don't get hung up on the 99% figure, I just used it because Fenner used it. I recently came across a statement from someone else who put it at about 90% - just as unacceptable. Unless wildlife is living for a considerable amount of its wild potential it should not be taken for the hobby. That's in line with MAC's original definition of an unsuitable species. Now that we know how long these animals can live in the wild -- we know they are unsuitable by longevity standards. Of course, they are also unsuitable for any number of other reasons.
<<Mmm, well; the greater percentage killed by locals for sport and food are dead immediately...>
Moreover I see that Bob's calculation is across potential supply sources, e.g. including from developing countries with infrastructure that forbids a straightforward transportation and where thus many intermediate handling steps and middlemen are involved. Transport from place of capture to the exporter can take up to 5 weeks alone (and that includes transport on nutshells at sea and mopeds on land). Unlike in Hawaii this is where the high mortality figures stem from. I was and am working in these major sources of the marine aquarium trade to improve the situation there. Even there you will find improvements and I doubt that a mortality rate of appr. 40% up to the exporter level as indicated is viable for any business. However the majority of the businesses in the marine aquarium trade is long lived like a Yellow Tang. So where are all the fish?
<<This is a good/valid point. They are obviously gone>>
These mortality figures certainly do not apply to Hawaii, where you were citing them and abusing them in a different context to make your case.
Most of the collection is done close to the wholesale/export stations and collectors sell their catch to the wholesaler/exporter immediately upon landing. In fact I see many of the collectors are employed or in long term supply relationships with the buyers, therefore only fishing on command (unlike in SE Asia). Within less than 12 hours at the very maximum (boat must go out quite some way), the fish are at the wholesale/export level. To reach a mortality rate of 40% in this time period you literally need to beat them death as if they were food fish. If you think they would all starve and die away in the wholesale/export facility, I would like to know how you imagine such business to survive more than a year when paying off the collectors, but then losing nearly half of what they sell?! Speak with Fenner about that, he's the one who wrote that SPECIFICALLY about Yellow Tangs. My understanding was that it was accumulated DOA's/DAA's throughout the COC and included the retail losses, as well. That's what is meant by 'before reaching the hobbyist'. There is much evidence of the unethical side of your trade: for example, a decade ago, MAC opponents wanted either no mortality standard for COC losses or one that started at 10% (80% accumulated!!) and gradually lowered. As you know the rate was set at 1% and there went MAC.
<<Paul Holthis didn't know what he was doing, and the MAC a sham...>>
Shipments from Hawaii, I witnessed arriving in Europe (thus transport and transition times much longer than compared to US market), had occasionally 0.5% DOA, but on average 0%DOA and maximum 1% DAA. The average shipment from Hawaii to Europe is around 1000 specimens, with 20% originating from other Pacific Islands (Hawaii point of wholesale, export to EU). I don't see your experience as reflecting the entire industry. Others have reported much higher rates. The fact that your industry has a 5% DOA no charge back standard pretty much says it all. Hawaii collectors report 1% and no one is checking -- certainly the rate is higher than that.
I cannot claim any figure of survival rates in the hobbyist tanks and that is why I was asking you for your source. To my knowledge there has never been a survey in Europe that would have produced any statistics on this. So I would neither use them as accusation nor as defense. Any survival rates I quote are from industry members estimates. For instance I quoted Fenner in my testimony: 'Who knows how many specimens in hobbyists care live a year or more? Likely this is not a large number"
<<Again... BobF>>
Whatever number you come up with, you're going to have to tell me where all the fish are. If they're surviving for any considerable amount of time, surely by now everyone in the hobby would have giant tanks to accommodate all the fish they keep buying. Unless, of course, it still holds true that the majority of hobbyists quit within a year.
Same applies to the number of fish taken from the reefs worldwide and hobbyists you state. I see many new markets in Eastern Europe and in Asia on the rise. I'm not your research assistant, so I suggest you do your homework as I have been doing for the past 4 years.
I can also not reply to your question on the average age a YT reaches in captivity. On the first hand we don't know the age of the fish when it reaches the hobbyist at all. Secondly I'm not aware of any statistically representative surveys. Clearly a ball in the court of the hobby aquarists to stand accounted for your questioning. Think it through and then take a guess or better yet -- tell me whether you agree that captive averages should mirror or exceed wild ones. Basically the wildlife that drives your profits is dying prematurely -- and not by a slight margin. The premature deaths drive collection rates. It's all quite unethical and irresponsible.
However, I dare asking you another question. You state "As I've tried to explain before, Hawaii residents cherish this wildlife and do not tolerate their use as your profit drivers." If that is the case, why do you call for a ban of aquarium fish collection only? Because they are taken for use as pets -- not food. Big difference. One must be kept alive and treated humanely another must be killed. I am not aware of any fishers creed, but I am very aware of the hunter's and that involves the notion of the 'clean kill', so even those who hunt for sport or necessity, understand that a quick kill is important. The trade/hobby on the other hand, causes prolonged and unnecessary suffering that lasts the duration of the fishes captive life. Aren't you missing out targets? I know you wish I would turn my attention away from your practices, but I will not. What about the impacts of commercial and non-commercial reef food fisheries, recreational fishing, charter sport fishing, diving, coastal development and pollution by the tourism industry? And this is only Hawaii and not including global issues like ocean acidification and rising ocean temperatures. The general trend of decline in fish population is the same in long term protected areas, FRAs and open areas - does this not speak for itself?
Fishery is fishery, if it is one for food with 100% mortality or for the aquarium trade with considerably little mortality. 'Considerably little mortality'? The aquarium trade/hobby causes 100% PREMATURE mortality that follows on the heels of days, weeks, months of stress, injury and disease. I have made over 10,000 dives/hours hanging out with these animals in the wild. I know the distances they like to cover, how they behave in different water and light conditions, how they interact with other native species, etc'¦ Putting them in glass boxes and an artificial environment is unacceptable, cruel and inhumane treatment of these magnificent creatures. Wildlife is simply not suitable for life in captivity -- especially in a completely artificial and inadequate environment under the care of those with little ability to keep them alive and thriving. Please don't pretend that fishes under the care of beginner hobbyists don't suffer astronomical death rates. For the reef it is all the same - a removal of a specimen.
In terms of sustainability: the food fisheries target big specimens, those mature adults that are needed for recruitment. Not so the aquarium trade. Anyway, both fisheries need to be managed and regulated. See Walsh: "Achilles tang has had low levels of recruitment over the past decade and substantial numbers of larger fish (i.e. 'breeders') are taken for human consumption." Why is it that this species shows higher densities in the open areas then, where aquarium collectors have access? However, I believe DAR came to the right conclusion to manage both fisheries of Achilles tangs equally: "DAR is currently in the process of developing a comprehensive package of size and bag limits for a number of popularly targeted species. There is a recommended bag limit of 10 Achilles tang/person/day which would apply to all harvesters including commercial fishers and aquarium collectors."
There are quite a lot of people on Hawaii making their living from marine natural resources. An outcry for an ecosystem based management seems more adequate than over-focusing on one of the stakeholders.
If it is about moral and ethics: what makes it morally better to eat reef fishes and remove them from a vulnerable resource? Is run-off from a hotel full with divers better for the reef than an aquarium collector? It's about the depletion of wild populations, the harm done to the ecosystem, the harm done to the animal, the harm done to the esthetic value of our reefs, again, it's a very long list.
Neither from our previous exchange nor from the testimony process I got a reply on my question why you are targeting the aquarium fishery/trade only? I would be grateful for clarification so that I can pass that on to our readers.
Considering this is already a lengthy email I skip other questions I developed while reading the For the fishes website.
Many thanks,
Christiane Schmidt
Re: Res 130-11

not really helpful comments from your side
<Still, my own impressions. B>
Re: Res 130-11 10/16/11
Dear Rene,
<<And RMF>>
I didn't expect anything other than just the same old music you play together with snorkel bob since ages. You are fooling yourselves by thinking this is a just a Snorkel Bob campaign. But I won't bother listing the organizations in support of the ban, since you will only dismiss them as having an 'agenda'.
Unfortunately it is symptomatic for your campaign that you do not really want to discuss and explore collaborative solutions with other stakeholders of the natural resources you pretend to protect. No discussion is needed with the trade -- only one solution exists: stop taking our wildlife. People who enjoy aquariums should never buy wild caught -- only captive bred (not 'raised' -- we're on to that).
<<Uhh... where is the flaw in this doctrine? Let's see... wild stocks are what everyone has to start with... and this not being a zero-sum-universe, folks are going to be spraying kerosene aerosol for jetting them about, electricity to power the systems, salt mix... It's disingenuous to demand "only captive produced" organisms... They ALL cost something to produce. Even the damage from sport divers (scuba and snorkel) is appreciable>>
Obviously it is not the resources you care about (otherwise you would be in a position to explain why other environment affecting activities are not subject to your campaign), but personal hatred of the aquarium trade. No personal hatred -- just intense motivation to protect reef wildlife from the trade's harmful practices. From your reply I really start developing doubt on the honesty of purpose. My organization is not called For the Reefs or For the Resources it's called For the Fishes (for a reason).
In researching for the article I'm writing for European magazines, I wanted to give you a chance to explain your motives. I'm used to work in a scientific way and use only facts (and not turn them around so that they fit my campaign) and I do this for longer than 4 years now. This way is not working out with you, so I will simply use what you stated in our exchange or on your website and highlight where evidence is missing.
I do not deny (and never did) that the aquarium trade and hobby will need to collect and publish representative data where still lacking and it will be one of my recommendations in the article. However, I refrain from using any figures that are not proven, even if they fit my purpose.
I personally feel it is unfortunate that you rather start offending opponents instead of being creative in a joint discussion. However, I'll accept this as it is and will not bother you with further questions. I did not mean to offend. I guess I'm just very tired of the same old arguments and tactics of refusing to accept responsibility for the harm done to the animals and their wild populations. It is shocking that the yellow tang populations along the majority of the west Hawaii coastline have declined by an additional 45% since 1999 -- and that population was already down by 47%. The trade is decimating local populations. Only profiteers and their supporters try to justify that. Sorry, no personal offense meant by that.
<<Again, I've yet to find real data percentage wise for mortality of this species. Take a look at the surveys done... there is inconsistent lack of recruitment in MPAs, set-aside areas where no ornamental collection is allowed/practiced. Explain this. Bob Fenner>>
Re: Res 130-11 10/16/11

<<Well, am pretty sure you're referring to Christiane; I am not a scientist, but an earnest supporter of appropriate use by several parties in our related interests. Thank you for your efforts. Bob Fenner>>
Thank you for the flowers, Rob.
I am out of this.
Quotation 10/16/11

Hi, Bob.
Ret Talbot here. I hope you're well. Will we be seeing you at Reefapalooza? Karen has a few new reef fishes paintings she'll be showing for the first time in California.
<Will be there on Sunday!>
As you may have seen, I have been back to work on the developments in Hawaii. In the course of my research and interviews over the past year, I have found Tina Owens of Lost Fish to be level-headed and a straight shooter. She is not pro-trade, but she is pro-stakeholder collaboration when it comes to management. In the last month, she has fairly aggressively opposed the most recent round of resolutions seeking to ban the trade on the Big Island, and she has now gone head-to-head with Rene. Toward that end, she asked me to ask you a few questions. I know you've been over this in the past, but I thought I would pass the questions along regardless so you can respond either through me or directly to Tina.
<Okay. BobF>
Thanks, Bob. Hope to see you next weekend.
Ret Talbot
Quotation 10/16/11

Ret, I've got a favor for you. I may be way off-base here but do you know a fellow named Bob Fenner? I understand he does the same sort of stuff you do, so I thought you might know him. <Hello Tina> If you do, could you ask him a question. Three questions, actually. Maybe four.
Question on a citation 10/28/11

on http://www.forthefishes.org/
"Mortality rates are astronomical. Between capture and retail, up to 40 percent of Hawaii's Yellow Tangs will die before reaching the hobbyist. (R. Fenner, Sept. 2010, wetwebmedia.com)."
Just curious if that's an accurate citation, taken out of context, or something else?
<Something else. The folks in the trade would go broke if there were more than just a few (single digit) percentage losses twixt collection to retail. Counting incidental mortality In the wild this figure is not surprising... but captive mortality IS less than wild. BobF>
Re: Question on a citation. More clear, complete 10/28/11

Bob, re-read your second response. So that 40% figure being attributed to you is not accurate, not a proper citation of wet web media then.
<I don't know where these folks are getting such quotations Matt. NOT from me>
You do say "it's something else"...so what is it?
<I don't actually know. Again, I must ask whomever is citing me to specifically point out where, what they're lifting>
Obviously, to have an anti-aquarium organization quoting a well-respected aquarium author as having said that 40% die in the chain of custody would be pretty damning (which is why it's on their homepage), but it sounds like that's a complete fabrication (and/or taken completely out context)? IDK, I'd be going crazy to be misquoted in that fashion.
<I HAVE asked Wintner, Umberger to remove any mention of my name, made-up quotations... to no avail. And written a review piece for James Lawrence/Microcosm-Coral re Zebrasoma flavescens (w/ good help from Tony Nahacky w/ it)... but he has not run for whatever reason/s as yet. Sorry to be so daft in original response. Have been very sick. Cheers, BobF>
Re: Up to 40% die... the lack of source of the misquote, madness from lying rhetoricians In Hawaii 10/30/11

> Hi Bob,
> In case you've actually forgotten what you wrote about yellow tang
> mortalities, see below for your info that I'm currently using. I inserted
> the word "not", since I'm fairly certain that's what you meant. You are not
> the only one to report numbers like this and the math, as you know, is
> pretty straightforward. Between the number that dies before leaving Hawaii,
> the DOA's, DAA's and losses at retail, 40% is probably conservative,
> wouldn't you agree?
> Rene
> http://www.wetwebmedia.com/collhiway.htm
> 2/2/2010
> "I don't know of any "industry" counts for Zebrasoma flavescens, but I would
> be very surprised if there were more than 10-20% mortality from collection
> to receiving at wholesalers in the U.S. mainland, and [not] much more than
> that range of further losses going to/through distributors to
> end-users/consumers. Who knows how many specimens in hobbyists care live a
> year or more? Likely this is not a large number; but I would be very
> surprised if the percentage surviving in the wild were greater."
Rene... I don't find the quote you excerpt below, but do see this:
"Hawaiian shipping styro's are called coffin boxes because of their oblong shape, as opposed to the common double Styrofoam containers of most everywhere else. People there know to pack their shipments loosely. ; about 15-20 organisms of medium size per box, less than half the concentration and with twice plus the volume of water of Indo. or the P.I. shipments. And the difference shows. The survivability and vigor of Hawaiian livestock must be experienced first hand to be appreciated. I have seen many one hundred percent live, zero DOA shipments from Hawaii; extremely few from other areas outside the U.S.."
Please remove any citation to my work from anything to do w/ your projects. Bob Fenner
As an example Matt... Madness! B
Re: Up to 40% die...
So tempted to call this out on RB, would you be cool if I did?
<You must follow your path>
I love how she attributes this 40% loss to you on her site, yet here in email she says she's extrapolating it?
<I can't see where she/they get this from>
The fact that you said "you'd be surprised if there was 10-20%, let alone more at stores" and she takes that to be a 40% fact. Amazing.
<And disappointing eh? What would you do Matt? Is there a defense, some way of disputing people who make things up to support their indefensible positions? I don't see how my friend. B>
Re: Up to 40% die... /Rene Umberger 10/31/11

"Your name being used by anti-aquarium activists (again) -- 02/02/10
Hi Bob,
<Hey XXXX>
I remember writing you about a year ago on this subject, and you may have heard about it on and off since then.
<Oh yes... even from Snorkel Bob himself/directly>
In a nutshell, we have a small group of activists who are trying to kill the aquarium industry over here. They one of their main talking points is a quote from you (taken out of context) in which you state that 99% of fish die within a year.
<Yes... and I've looked, can't find how to directly add a response to this online version of West Hawaii Today... If you would, please send along our email here for their posting>
More recently, they have been even more specific, reporting that you claim that 99% of Hawaiian aquarium fish (or sometimes 99% of yellow tangs) do not survive a year.
<Yes... but... this is a fisheries statistic... not an industry incidental mortality one. In other words, it is a fact that counting all potential spawn, the vast majority of marine fish life is dead... swept out to unsuitable circumstances by tides, currents, consumed by predators, starved for lack of nutrient... w/in a year. This is simple fisheries biology statistics. I don't know of any "industry" counts for Zebrasoma flavescens, but I would be very surprised if there were more than 10-20% mortality from collection to receiving at wholesalers in the U.S. mainland, and much more than that range of further losses going to/through distributors to end-users/consumers. Who knows how many specimens in hobbyists care live a year or more? Likely this is not a large number; but I would be very surprised if the percentage surviving in the wild were greater. Further, I take exception with BobW's assertion that this species lives for forty years in the wild. There may be some individuals that reach a decade or so, but these are exceedingly rare I'd warrant. Unfortunately, I do not find any number/age data for this species to readily cite>
One of them recently submitted a letter to the West Hawaii newspaper saying exactly that. I attached a PDF to this e-mail or you can read it here if it's still up:
Is it possible for you to write a rebuttal to this? Unfortunately making false claims is the norm for these guys, and this time they're directly falsifying a statement from you.
Also, I would very much appreciate it if you did not include my name on your website, since I'd rather avoid retaliation.
<A great shame that one must operate thus>
<I do appreciate your bringing this to my notice; and want to further state my lack of awareness re the incident alluded to here at Honokohau Bay... but that I know of a few of the collectors on Kona and O'ahu and have found them to be excellent divers, and careful stewards of the resource in Hawaii. The planet will not be better for curtailing the trade in ornamentals there. A hu'i hou! Bob Fenner>"
<<Yes... I WOULD be surprised if there were 10-20% incidental mortality Rene. In other words there is almost nil... Understanzee? B>>
Re: Up to 40% die... 10/31/11
OK, so what you meant by 'very surprised if there were more than 10-20% mortality from collection to receiving at wholesalers in the U.S. mainland, and much more than that range of further losses going to/through distributors to end-users/consumers,' is almost nil mortality between the initial mainland receiver and the hobbyist?
So if a trade certification scheme was proposed today that mandated a less than 1% DOA / 1% DAA for each step in the COC the trade would get behind it?
<No... such schemes are fraught w/ too much government influence, inefficiencies in markets. Look around at any, all industries the gov't is involved in.>
Suddenly 5% DAA's and DOA's have ceased to exist; retail losses have ceased to exist?
<Certainly not; nor natural predation losses; nor from habitat destruction from pollution, mining, forestry... damage from sport and commercial diving, artisanal and commercial fishing.>
My the trade has come a long way in the last few months'¦
<... I don't see much improvement in short term/s... years. How long have you been in the scuba trade? Are you familiar w/ the result of people in it and the trop. industry there years back? Re-read my statement re the gov't above, and realize where you're going w/ this hate campaign against the petfish industry. The scuba and snorkeling business is a very short distance behind. BobF>
Re: Up to 40% die... 10/31/11
OH and I take exception to your painting this as a hate campaign against the petfish industry. I am a huge supporter of keeping pets (and making money from it).
If captive bred fish are kept ethically and their wild populations aren't depleted in the process of providing brood stock, then I see no problem with that.
THIS is a campaign against the unethical, unsuccessful and unsound practice of attempting to keep coral reef wildlife as pets.
It is a disposable pet trade -- and everyone but those with vested interests understand it for exactly what it is.
<Mmm, I don't see the trade in this light at all. And in terms of biomass utilization, the ornamental industry ranks way down the line... Local people take orders of magnitude more numbers, including large individuals (much bigger sources of gamete production and recruitment) which the trade specifically ignores... Yes, including "trop." species like Koles, Naso lituratus, N. japonicus... THIS is a simple fact. Are you campaigning for restriction of access to this resource for locals as well? BobF>
Re: Up to 40% die... 10/31/11
so you're standing behind the conclusion that you're saying there is almost nil mortality between the initial mainland receiver and the hobbyist?
<For the "stock" Hawaiian species I'm familiar with (e.g. Zebrasoma flavescens, Halichoeres ornatissimus, Cirrhilabrus jordani), and the folks that I have awareness of (e.g. Quality Marine, Tropical Marine Centre), yes... they report small single digits to even zero DOA's from their Hawaiian suppliers. The retailers? I don't have any confidence in their anecdotal reporting. Likely some do lose a significant number of animals... But I know naught re quantitatively. BobF>Coral Magazine; Y. tangs, lies 1/20/12
Good morning Bob,
<Hey James>
Saw this today......."FEAR, LIES, and VIDEOTAPE: Anti-aquarium activist Rene Umberger at a recent protest that resulted in Petco deciding not to sell Yellow Tangs: "40 percent of Hawaii's Yellow Tangs will die before reaching the hobbyist," she says, and cites the source: R. Fenner, September 2010, on www.Wetwebmedia.com."
Did not realize it was that high......6 out of 10 make it to hobbyists tanks? I felt the major losses were due to inexperienced aquarists, and something like 3% didn't make it to the dealer or died in the dealer's tank.
<The incidental mortality in the trade for this species has never been this high... Think on this; the fish would be extremely expensive to the end-user if so. The folks here have "lifted" my name (FWIW) and attached a fictitious value (an even numbered one no less!) to a "factoid" of their making/use. BobF>
Re: Coral Magazine 1/20/12
Mmm, have you done anything about this? I have had about all I want to
read about this dude Snorkel Bob.
<Have written both BobW and ReneU and the trade re... they persist in
mis-using my name, statements. B>
Re: Coral Magazine 1/20/12

BBC E-mail: Ancient reef uncovered in Pacific 9/1/10
Neale Monks begin_of_the_skype_highlighting end_of_the_skype_highlighting saw this story on the BBC News website and thought you should see it.
** Ancient reef uncovered in Pacific **
An ancient reef may provide scientists with clues about what will happen to coral when sea temperatures rise.
< http://www.bbc.co.uk/go/em/fr/-/news/science-environment-11153193 >
Thanks for sharing Neale. B

regarding Wintner. In resp. to a retort by RMF to Snorkel Bob's monotribe: 9/1/10
James, thank you for another fascinating issue of coral newsletter. something tells me that the quieting of Mr. Wintner will require more than a little grapeshot from the swivel gun mounted on the bow of Mr. Fenner's launch. a navy sized for the purpose will likely be necessary ...don't you think? if the guy is as resourced and agile as indicated, this is a very serious matter. who in the industry should assume responsibility for the creation of an admiralty for the purpose? Stephen

Huge phytoplankton die-off in our worlds' oceans? (Bob, anything to add?)<<Mmm, no>> - 8/17/10
A friend recommended you as a knowledgeable person on marine life. I recently came across this article and was really alarmed: -
Does this mean that oxygen levels are going to plummet with higher temperatures in our oceans?
<Climate change is a complicated issue, and one thing that isn't always borne in mind is that things like oxygen concentration have changed throughout the history of the Earth. What is unusual about the composition of seawater and atmosphere in the last century is that changes seem to be happening rather faster than in the previous few thousand years. While there are other possible explanations, the one favoured by most, if admittedly not all, climatologists, oceanographers and geologists is that human activities have caused these changes. What tends to happen when climate changes is that the balance between particular organisms changes.
To take an extreme example, during the Carboniferous Period oxygen levels in the air were much higher than today, at least 30% of the air, compared to about 20% today. That allowed insects to grow much larger then than they can now, because their method of breathing isn't particularly effective.
Oxygen concentration today isn't particularly high and has been on a downward trend for the last 20 million years or so. Of course, saying that masks a key implication: climate changes in the past changed the variety of species alive, some going extinct, and others appearing to fill the gaps.
If climate change going on today is indeed faster than it would otherwise be, and if the balance of organisms in marine and terrestrial food webs change, then extinctions will very likely follow on, and there's no reason at all to assume that such changes wouldn't be harmful to us. This isn't to say human life itself is threatened, but we depend intimately on all sorts of organisms, including animals used for food, organisms that cause disease, plants used for building materials, mangroves that prevent damage from tidal waves, marshlands that slow down coastal erosion, and so on. For example, less oxygen in the sea will mean less zooplankton, and that will mean fewer plankton-eating fish such as herring and anchovies, and in turn fewer predatory fish that feed on the smaller fish, so fewer tuna and sea bass. But less obviously, phytoplankton such as coccolithophores that use up carbon dioxide and thereby lower atmospheric CO2 levels will suffer if the sea contains less oxygen -- don't forget, when the Sun goes down "plants" need oxygen just as much as animals. Without what geologists call a "carbon sink", there's nowhere for atmospheric CO2 to go, so it just builds up. On the other hand, it's not all doom and gloom. As I said, organisms don't just vanish when climate changes, other ones take over.
Species that aren't doing well today may find conditions work in their favour. In fact the majority of plants would "prefer" a higher CO2 level precisely because their method of photosynthesis evolved when CO2 levels were higher and don't work at maximum rate today because the CO2 level is below the optimal value from their perspective. So some organisms including plants may do better, and overall, you'd expect life on Earth to remain diverse and abundant. The problem with human-caused changes is not that life will vanish, but that the forms of life we most prefer will fade away as less welcome species proliferate. Squid for example seem to tolerate overfishing better than mackerel and tuna, but squid are intrinsically less
valuable than either of those fish, so while that particularly fishery might remain, it becomes one worth a lot less money. In the same way, phytoplankton populations will probably change as the sea's composition and temperature change, but the new dominant phytoplankton species may well be ones that don't support the fish species humans most prize. Now, I should state here that while I am a geologist in terms of my PhD qualification, I'm not an expert on plankton, though I've done a little work relating to climate change. But with that said, I think the notion that the relatively slight -- though rapid -- climate change going on now may well CHANGE the plankton composition of the sea, it seems inconceivable to me that the
phytoplankton will VANISH. The marine ecosystem has persisted through far greater climate changes than that apparently going on today, and many organisms swimming in today's seas were around 100 million years ago or even further back: coelacanths, Port Jackson sharks, brachiopods, crinoids, nautiluses, and so on. Indeed, even coral reefs have survived a great many changes, though at other times they have seemingly come close to total extinction, as at the Permian-Triassic boundary when the Rugose and Tabulate coral groups vanished. The really issue is to what degree the changes will be ones that will affects humans and the ecosystems we most prize. Life on Earth will doubtless last long after humans have died out or left for the stars, but will there still be elephants, whales or the Great Barrier Reef? Cheers, Neale.>

Please help Bob (Marine Aquarium involved near Oil Spill!!) 6/18/10
Dear Mr. Fenner and Wet Web Crew:
<Howdy Jared>
I'm working directly with the Gulfarium near Destin, Florida on handling their issues regarding the oil spill and their raw water. We are trying to decide which wells to use...there is three different approaches we've looked at so far. All have their ups and downs.
1. Using Raw Water from the current well points buried 15 feet down in the sand, 300 feet from shore.
<Mmm, is there any routine testing of this, other sources of water...? Do you have the capacity, means to store, and re-use water?>
The downfall to this is that I'm concerned about the by-products that are being produced by this oil spill, such as Toluene, Benzene, and other solvents and by-products. I know its possible for leaching into soil of TPH's and VOCs and causing contamination so why not in this situation since the oil is sinking now putting the contaminants closer to the well points rather. The main concern I have is smaller concentrations irritating the mammals, and sharks and rays, etc. A few years ago we changed brands of Calcium Hypochlorite
<Very basic, caustic... can/does burn>
and we had a negative reaction from the dolphins by it irritating their skin...so we are trying to prevent this from happening all over in a different way. Not only does our facility house marine mammals such as dolphins, sea lions, etc, we also have a 40,000 Gallon Reef Tank and large aqua culture facility.
2. Using Well points closer up on the beach. We have well points on the beach we can use also, although the salinity is significantly lower than the Gulf reading 1.018. But the main show tanks and the rest of them have a salinity at that already. So the only salinity adjusting would be primarily for the Living Sea.
Although this method seems best, I'm also concerned about more leaching of these nasties into these wells also even though they are on shore. The water all pretty much comes from the same place since these wells are on the beach too.
So I've thought about ordering a TPH test kit / colorimeter from Hach and possibly looking to LaMotte as well for a solution,
<Good tools to have on hand, use>
this would at least let me know if the raw water 300 feet from shore is ok to use, or if the wells closer inshore are safe in case shit hits the fan and the offshore wells are not safe to use.
3. Closed system, totally closed, mixing our own salt and making water and purifying it from tap on a large scale situation.
<IF you had this capability... I would be setting something up "just in case"...>
Do you think TPH is a good measurement for what we are trying to prevent from entering our water system?
<Total Petroleum Hydrocarbons? Is a useful measure:
http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxprofiles/phs123.html for a summary for browsers...>
It's testing method is Immunoassay.
Can you recommend any ideas or points we should check on besides any that I listed....or comments on what I have together as a plan of action?
<Again... a good idea to have a second, third contingency plan... even the possibility of shipping the mammals elsewhere>
Please respond ASAP or call 850-685-1500 as this truly is a disaster and major crisis down here.
<Sorry for the delay... have been serving on a court jury>
The news and media are not covering hardly anything compared to what's happening. We are talking 8-9 feet of sludge 102 miles South West of Destin, FL. Over 500 dead turtles and over 325 dead bottlenose dolphins.
Large amounts of VOC's being released into the water and air. This is what we are especially worried about, they are eating gel coat from boats working in the slick...so what would they do if they entered our marine park? We DON'T want to find out so we are looking to TPH testing methods by Hach to test for these solvents.
<I would also be contacting other (mal)affected public aquariums to gather their input>
Any more parameters we should be testing with the colorimeters or spectrophotometers?
<The latter. Spec's are multi-wavelength colorimeters... much broader applications, capable of testing more matters and more accurately>
Thanks in advance.
Jared Waites
<And you, Bob Fenner>

Protect crabs from oil spill? (RMF, opinion?) 4/30/10
Hello, this is Stephanie
<Hello Stephanie,>
I live on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. I am concerned about the oil spill that may be coming towards us. I occasionally see hermit crabs at the beach. My question is: Should I take them home to save them from the oil
spill? Now I could prepare, since the oil is not here yet. Or should I leave any crabs that I might see where they are? If your answer is that I should take them, could I put them back when the oil spill is cleaned up or in case the oil never gets here?
Thank you very much for your answer.
<The short answer is that if you "rescue" a crab by taking it home, you're really not making any difference at all, since its genes will be removed from the population at large. Why? Because it won't breed in captivity, and furthermore, you can't ethically return the thing down the line. Releasing captive animals can cause all sorts of problems. They're exposed to parasites and bacteria endemic to the pet fish hobby for one thing. They also lose some of their instincts over time as they adapt to the different set of conditions in the aquarium, so once released can become easy prey or otherwise maladapted to the conditions in the wild. Finally, seasonal variations mean that if you release an animal you've maintained at one temperature into the wild at another temperature, it's metabolism will be totally out of sync with the local water temperature and food availability.
Rescuing, cleaning and releasing wild animals after oil spills is actually quite difficult to do *properly*, which is why it's mostly confined to those animals the breed slowly, like seabirds and seals. Hermit crabs and most other invertebrates breed quickly, and furthermore the plankton is filled with a new generation already, ready to take the place of any that die this year. In fact hermit crab populations are in part controlled by the lack of shells, and many of the ones that settle out from the plankton fail to find enough shells to keep up with their growth, and die because of it. This is why hermits fight over access to shells, and may even evict other hermit crabs from occupied shells if they can. In short, if you want to collect some crabs, then by all means do so, and maintaining native marine invertebrates and fish can be terrific fun. But if you want to provide some practical help to the clean-up effort, then either make a donation to a suitable charity, or else volunteer to help in the beach clean-up as/when it happens. Let's hope it isn't too serious, and the good news is that oil slicks may be locally catastrophic but for most marine
organisms they are a temporary, localised tragedy rather than something that endangers their entire species. Still, you might want to reflect on what this means for oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
The argument has always been that the risks to that pristine environment are minimal and worth it compared to the benefits it would provide. As this recent incident has shown, drilling for oil is always risky, both to the people who do it and to the environment, so the benefits and the risks need to be balanced carefully and planned around. One of my jobs when I worked as a marine biologist for a company called AURIS was looking at marine invertebrate diversity around offshore oil rigs. There are very definite patterns, and even when the rigs are operating "cleanly", they're still massively polluting to the area immediately around them. Cheers, Neale.>
<<I do heartily agree w/ Neale's statements, and would add that the universe and our bit of it are NOT "zero sum games"... that the use of resources to "save" parts, individuals of a given "ecosystem" bring in/entail costs... akin to adding more children, increasing ones "carbon et al. foot-prints" as consumers... Would the gasoline to drive down to the shore, the energy to house such animals, the chemicals used to clean, keep them "be worth it?" As Neale alludes to, how much of the "genetic potential" of this life will be restored? I encourage folks with such ideals (saving the planet or corners of it) to think hard, act responsibly... RMF>>

Re: Protect crabs from oil spill? (RMF, opinion?) 4/30/10
<<I do heartily agree w/ Neale's statements, and would add that the universe and our bit of it are NOT "zero sum games"... that the use of resources to "save" parts, individuals of a given "ecosystem" bring in/entail costs... akin to adding more children, increasing ones "carbon et al. foot-prints" as consumers... Would the gasoline to drive down to the shore, the energy to house such animals, the chemicals used to clean, keep them "be worth it?" As Neale alludes to, how much of the "genetic potential" of this life will be restored? I encourage folks with such
ideals (saving the planet or corners of it) to think hard, act responsibly... RMF>>
<<<All good points Bob, thanks for sharing. Stephanie, thanks again for writing in with such an interesting question. Cheers, Neale.>>>
Re: Protect crabs from oil spill? (RMF, opinion?) 4/30/10
Thank you so much for your answers.
<Most welcome.>
Neale, thank you for explaining, why birds get rescued and not the smaller animals like crabs. I also appreciate all the other info you gave me. It is very interesting and I could not find this information anywhere else.
<Happy to help.>
I am used to seeing hermit crabs on the beach, I look at them, they are so interesting, but I never took one home. They are where they belong.
<Yet collecting a few does no harm. If it deepens your understand of biology and willingness to ensure better protection for the sea, then taking a few of them as pets is a good trade.>
Only this oil spill made me think whether I should take them home now.
But I also read in one of your answers: The vast majority of "pets" dragged home from beaches die very quickly."
<This is indeed the case. But hermit crabs on the whole are fairly robust.
Clibanarius spp. for example are commonly euryhaline, being adapted to estuarine and intertidal habitats, so they put up with a lot of abuse. It's also helpful you're collecting from a relatively warm sea, so these animals will do fine at room temperature. In the case of animals collected further north, like here in England, many animals simply fail to survive if kept that warm.>
I don't want to take crabs home when their chance of survival might be greater if I leave them.
<Taking a few would make little difference either way. So go ahead, and then you can share your concerns to people who visit you. Show them the sorts of animals at risk, and what they can do to prevent this sort of thing happening again.>
My thought about the oil rigs is: They should have a plan about what to in case of accidents before they even build them. Thinking about it now is too little, too late.
To RMF: I live very close to the beach and go there anyway, so no extra gasoline. I probably think smaller then you and Neale. I was mostly thinking of the crabs that I might save. That is why yours and Neale's points are so interesting to me. I have several rescue animals: 4 dogs, 1 cat, and 1 rabbit. It is a lot of work, time and money and doesn't save a species. Does it mean it is worthless? No, it means everything to the animals that got saved and have a great life now. However, I would not lightheartedly take an animal from the wild. I am not sure, whether they
would have a great life in an aquarium.
Thank you so much again, Neale and RMF, for your quick answers.
<You are quite right that small acts of animal welfare are important too.
Thanks for writing in! Cheers, Neale.>

BBC E-mail: Hawaiian beach 'turning into plastic 4/25/10
Neale Monks saw this story on the BBC News website and thought you should see it
More plastic particles than sand?! Yeeikes! B

Coral Disease In Hawaii FWIW 4/26/10
Hello Bob & Crew
<Oh yes... this has been going on for years at Kaneohe Bay. B>

Oil Spill on GBR 4/5/10
Bob & Fellow Crew.
Coal freighter has run aground on the Great Barrier reef.
<Not too bad thus far... BobF>

Please help me with a scientific study, Sources of mort. f' - 4/1/10
<Hi there Andrew>
First off I need to thank you for putting together the greatest resource anywhere for keeping aquaria, it has been an invaluable aid for me many times over the years and it is the first place I send people with any reefkeeping question. Searching through your FAQs has yet to fail to answer any concern I have had. A sincere and heartfelt thank you!
Now I am ashamed to say that I am going to ask for some more help from you. I am a graduate student at RSMAS (University of Miami Marine School) pursuing a degree in marine biology. My lab does a ton of biophysical connectivity modeling and I would like to try and apply it to the marine ornamental trade to show that many reef fish can be harvested in a sustainable manner. I am tired of the negative opinions of the live fish trade prevailing through the literature and would love to publish something praising it (both for the support of the industry that gives so much pleasure to so many people and for my own conscious). I am confident that the limited scale collection of fish that spawn on a daily basis (such as flame angelfish) is sustainable and that my lab's model will clearly demonstrate this.
<Would like to see>
In order to ideally parameterize the model I need recent fish collection information, and I have been unable to locate anything younger than a decade old.
<Yes... am cc'ing Dr. Elizabeth Wood here/above... to ask her to share her database... don't know how much is in actual print... re collection of ornamental marines>
I know that Cook Islands Aquarium Fish Ltd out of Facsimile, Rarotonga is the historical exporter from the Cook Islands but I have been unable to find an email contact for Charles Boyle
<And have looked for Chip's contact info., and don't see it... perhaps lost in a computer crash. Am asking Dr. John/Jack Randall of the Bernice P. Bishop, and Chris Buerner of Quality Marine for help here in connecting you two>
and I do not want to call and bother him on the phone unless all else fails.
<Mmm, he actually collects very few Centropyge period in Rarotonga... Most all specimens come out of the western Pacific, a few from Hawai'i'>
I noticed that you had previously acted as a mediator to get access to Mr. Boyle and I would greatly appreciate it if you could do so for me as well. I know this is a steep request and could be a hassle but I am asking anyways because I strongly believe that a great paper will be the result.
<Am happy to assist your efforts>
Thank you so much for your time and I apologize for such a long email. If I can ever return the favor please let me know, mind you I am a poor graduate student but who knows!
Cheers- Andrew Kough
<And you, Bob Fenner>
Re: Please help me with a scientific study - 4/1/10
Hi: I have an old e-mail address for Chip Boyle; maybe still O.K.:
chip <cboyle@XXXXXX.net.ck> Aloha, Jack
Much aloha Jack, A hu'i hou! BobF

CORAL magazine, Global warming article, issue 3/22/10
> Hi Bob, Sara,
> A friend e-mailed me about some fuss over an article about global warming and corals in Coral magazine. I don't subscribe, obviously, but do wonder why people would get really worked up over such an article. What's the deal?
<There's a considerable minority... some quite vocal, that strongly believe that "global warming" is a devised myth of some industrialists, politicians... seeking to further their control/wealth of the planets resources, peoples... A few of these REALLY object to aspects of the trade, hobby adhering, giving credence to such a belief. Alas, there are people who would walk out on the beach and attempt to hold back the tides.>
Was it about pages being "wasted" on non-practical stuff, or something deeper and more political?
<A bit of both. Most of the "debunkers", "denialists" don't want "to hear it" period; some just don't want to pay for it, read such being promulgated in their pet-fish 'zines. BobF>
> Cheers, Neale
Re: CORAL magazine 3/22/10
Hi Neale,
Actually, believe it or not, I'd probably also be annoyed to find an article on global warming in any of my aquarium magazines. Of course, I absolutely believe that global warming is happening and may very well manifest the end of the Earth as we know it. But this is just all the more reason why I do NOT want to read about it in my pet-fish magazines. When I want to read about serious issues (and/or gain any real knowledge about what's going on in the word around me), I read The Economist or listen to NPR, etc.
Not to sound arrogant, but maybe it's different for the dull masses who aren't typically engaged in any intellectual or educational endeavor on a daily or even weekly basis... but for me, sometimes I actually get tired of thinking. So I stare at my fish to give my brain and all its concerns a break/escape from it all. You know?
Well-stated Sara. B
Re: CORAL magazine 3/22/10
> Hi Bob,
> Having just read the letters page to Coral magazine, I was actually surprised to see Bob Goemans as one of the people with the strongest opinions against the piece! I don't know Dr. Goemans at all, but I've always enjoyed reading his pieces, and I have to confess to being surprised by the aggressive tone of his letter to James Lawrence.
<Me too>
> I'm not at all an expert on corals, and would be interested to know whether you or Sara believe the threat to (hermatypic?) corals is really as severe as the article in Coral Magazine suggested.
<The rate of change, and probability of damage to a good deal of the webbing of life on the planet are indeed a concern to me>
> As a geologist, I will tell you that reef-building corals were completely wiped out once before, during the Late Permian, when the Rugosa and Tabulata corals died. It was about 50 million years before the Scleractinia established anything like the coral reefs that had existed through the Palaeozoic. To paraphrase the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica, 'All this has happened before, all this can happen again.'
<Perhaps sans Homo>
> Cheers, Neale
<Beeedeeebeeedeebeedee, okay Buck. B>

Re Coral Magazine and Global Warming 3/25/10
Hello Wet Web friends! I hope you all are doing well and feeling fine. I want to thank you all for what a wonderful job you do on a daily basis and for sharing both your time and efforts with us. Us readers often forget that you all are volunteers and therefore really cannot be thanked enough.
You are all the best and appreciated by MOST!
I am writing today not to ask a question about aquatics, but in response to the conversation the other day about the "grumblings" over Global Warming in the latest Coral magazine. Just a quick side note, James Lawrence has done a spectacular job with the magazine and I've never loved it more. The quality is just second to none in my humble opinion...I look forward to it's arrival like a kid at Christmas. Anyway, as readers of this magazine probably know, this argument actually started with the last issue where in the "Letters", the owner of a large saltwater fish distributor voiced his displeasure with Coral including articles about Global Warming and was so upset that he asked for them not to send any issue with these subjects as he would not put them on display for his customers. Since then, Coral has added two more Global Warming articles and more people have become upset, including some authors and high level hobby contributors which, to me, has been even more disturbing. I just wanted to give my humble take on the subject and welcome any of your replies. I've spoken with Neale on this topic on a couple of occasions and since we both seem to basically if not completely have the same outlook, I think we both struggle to understand what all the hub-bub is about and why it invokes so much anger. The following is why I don't understand.
<Much ado about not much IMO. I do find the subject (Global Warming) pertinent... the science "good enough".>
Whether you believe in Global Warming as fact or fiction, it would be very difficult to argue that in recent history, most notably since the Industrial Revolution, humans have impacted the planet negatively to a large degree. Yes, we have done amazing things in that time as well, but we've negatively impacted nature to a large degree. Pollution of all types is evident and unquestioned. Commercial fishing and trawling has decimated certain areas. Rainforests have been destroyed. Certain areas of the ocean have so much trash accumulated that it's despicable and the list goes on and on and on and we all know about most of it (although there's really much more that most of us are completely unaware of). These issues are all facts for the most part. Now whether the impact of these activities has resulted in what we'd like to call "Global Warming" or not is really unimportant. The symptoms are there for all to see. So rather than expending our energy on arguing about the title of the overall result of this activity, why not simply throw all of our efforts into fixing these wrongs?
<A very good question indeed. The "First world" nations throw away a huge part of their GDP, resources on "military" uses, self "governance"... most of this would be better applied to bettering the planet, peoples lives>
I can't understand what would be deleterious about using our energy to fix the wrongs that our species has perpetrated upon our beautiful planet, whether purposeful or not, rather than arguing semantics. Global warming or not, if our activities have even a small chance of negatively impacting the natural world, we need to do everything we can to either fix the problem altogether or at least find ways for it to be as minimally impacting as possible. In the end, our only real sin will be our own inaction, our lack of coming together and affecting change. Sitting back and thinking that the planet will somehow evolve in a matter of decades or even centuries to the impact of our staggering numbers and activities will be our doom. While the naysayers may argue, it seems pretty probable to me that we have a short period of time to "right" our wrongs before things will be too far gone and that is why the Global Warming believers are so persistent about immediate change. Can we afford to roll the dice? I mean there are so, so many problems in the world-politics, religion, big business, war, starvation, poverty and the list is endless, but will any of it really matter if the worst case scenario is, in fact, reality? I was always taught to plan for the worst and be glad if it never comes, but this is THE most dire of scenarios and yet we waffle on the subject? It all seems insane to me.
<Our further extension, evidence of too many peoples' apathy, ignorance... and a lack of real leadership>
Okay, I apologize for the rant and the length, but again, this could be THE defining topic of our planet. Sara, I do understand your point about this topic not being what you'd like to read in a hobby magazine, however, a magazine about coral reefs and reef aquariums seems as appropriate a forum as any. It's a call to action that if we do not do all that we can as a people, our beloved hobby could easily be taken away. That goes for freshwater hobbyists as well. Yes, most of their livestock is farmed and bred, but as aquarists of any kind, don't you think that the well being of the wild "cousins" of our captive creatures doesn't impact them-where and how will we learn about their natural behaviors, food, etc.? I understand that it's a tough topic to have to hear about on a regular basis and can be very depressing, but it's potentially the fate of our world. I actually feel quite the opposite as I feel like we are grossly uneducated on environmental topics. As a young person, I didn't REALLY know what kind of impact littering had.
<Making the litter is of more impact>
I didn't know things I could do to help and even now, I think a lot of us are unsure of how to really help. Okay, I'm so sorry, this is hugely long and I really do apologize. Please feel free to cut this up however way you deem appropriate if it is too long. Thanks for giving a forum for this discussion and others and please know that I appreciate all of you more than you can know. I wish a healthy planet for all of us, Global Warming believers and naysayers alike. My only interest is that we come together and enact positive change. Thanks for your time. Sincerely, Nicholas Sadaka
<Thank you for your caring, expression. Bob Fenner>
Re: Coral Magazine and Global Warming
Thanks again, Bob, for the time and opportunity to vent my opinion on the subject and it certainly makes me feel better that lots of leaders in our hobby like yourself and Neale and many others, I'm sure, are supportive of efforts to educate and repair the damage we've done. Seeing Bob Goeman's name and other respected hobbyists and organizations as people that were ardently opposed to even just the discussion made me very nervous about my
beliefs since they were/are names I've come to respect. Thanks again!
<Thank you again Nick... we wouldn't be human to not "speak out", seek improvement in these affairs, arenas. BobF>

Re: Coral Magazine and Global Warming... Speculations on evolution, human future 3/25/10
Sara Allyn Mavinkurve wrote:
> > I'd rather assume we're animals like any other. If our gluttony and over-population render the world inhospitable to all but cockroaches and Aiptasia, well, perhaps that is our evolutionary "fate." I do believe the world will go on after us. Even if we ultimately bring about our own extinction or demotion to a species of lesser dominance, I hope it will have at least been worth the ride.
> Yikes! That's one way of looking at things, I suppose.
> I don't think any sane biologist or geologist has said humans could bring about the end of all life. But what they do say is that much of the diversity, and especially much of the animal and plant life we enjoy, value and depend upon, is threatened.
<I do think injudicious human activity can greatly disrupt, destroy several species, systems>
> Moreover, we aren't "just" animals. We're special, perhaps even unique. We've stepped outside evolution, and what happens to us depends entirely on what we choose to do.
<Mmm, as we're friends, I would like to state a differing opinion... I don't find humans to be "very" unique and definitely not outside evolution>
> Cheers, Neale
<Ah yes, BobF>
Re: Coral Magazine and Global Warming 3/25/10
It's interesting how we think of ourselves as so separate and apart from the "natural world," <and wrong. RMF. A plug for Alan Watt's "The Book"> even to the extent that we might take credit for destroying it or think we might have the power to save it. I wonder if the bacteria responsible for a man dying of septic shock would experience the same arrogant feelings of remorse if they were capable of such higher cognition. I'd rather assume we're animals like any other. If our gluttony and over-population render the world inhospitable to all but cockroaches and Aiptasia, well, perhaps that is our evolutionary "fate." I do believe the world will go on after us. Even if we ultimately bring about our own extinction or demotion to a species of lesser dominance, I hope it will have at least been worth the ride.
Re: Coral Magazine and Global Warming 3/25/10
Are you really so sure we've "stepped outside" of evolution? Do you think we even understand evolution well enough to know if we've stepped outside of it? I do think the world as we know it is "coming to an end" to some extent or another. Neale, you're a biologist... look at patterns of population peeks in any life form lacking natural competition in any closed environment. What happens? The human population *will* reach a point of unsustainability. At that point, I hope you don't expect our species to behave with decency and respect for each other. It won't happen. Competition and slow panic will lead to war, death, disease... maybe not soon, but eventually.
<I do agree with these points, inferences. Some threshold events/factors are on the horizon... The economic loss of liquid carbon fuels, effects of rapid increase in much of the "other" than first world citizenry becoming greater consumers... Am hoping for a more charitable outcome than collapse/disaster in these times. BobF>
Re: Coral Magazine and Global Warming 3/25/10
> Hi Sara,
> Yes, we aren't subject to evolution any longer. Or if we are, it's at a minor level, e.g., the way we're getting genetically taller with time (distinct from eating better and so reaching the size our genes allow). The thing with evolution is that it is very simple: it's about passing your genes on. Natural selection doesn't really come into that. We aren't chased by predators, we aren't stressed by extremes of cold or heat, we aren't killed off by diseases. We have technological solutions to all of these things. So our success depends on how smart we are, and there's no trace of evidence our brains are any better than they were 50,000 years ago.
> Of course, should society collapse, and our technological wonders get removed, then yes, precisely what you say could happen again -- the strong will survive, the weak will go to the wall. But human society will only collapse if we choose to let that happen, for example by destroying the ability of the Earth to supply sufficient food, wood and water. Hence my argument that only if we make poor choices is the human species threatened, at least for now.
> With that said, there are scientists who argue both ways. Steve Jones (a famous geneticist) argues evolution has stopped for humans, but others have suggested we're evolving faster than ever, and maybe evolving into two species.
> http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/today/tomfeilden/2008/10/is_human_evolution_over.html
> http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/7132794.stm
> http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/6057734.stm
> Cheers, Neale
Re: Coral Magazine and Global Warming 3/25/10
I think the escalating rates of morbid obesity, a disease/condition that causes everything from infertility to death, to be a fairly convincing sign that humans are not so outside evolutionary forces. That and, sad to say, the increasing rates of the consumption of alcohol, a powerful neurotoxin and teratogen (causing, again, everything from infertility to death), in "first world" nations, might be another sign. IMO, we haven't stepped outside of evolution so much as we've succumbed to it at the opposite end. Usually, individuals are selected out for their relative ineptness to acquire food or fend off (or avoid) predators, ironically, maybe we're being selected out via our indulgences and lack of threats to our existence.
<I too believe that these selective forces are real and at play... and have a value judgment re them: The laxness or put another way, the lessening of negative consequences (death, non-reproduction) is "bad" for our species in the way of gross population, but likely good in producing variation... BobF>

BBC E-mail: Lionfish eat way through Caribbean 3/13/10
> Neale Monks saw this story on the BBC News website and thought you should see it.
> ** Lionfish eat way through Caribbean **
> A poisonous &#34;alien species&#34; of fish is eating its way through the Caribbean and quickly multiplying.
> < http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/em/fr/-/1/hi/world/americas/8564516.stm >
Yes, yet another example of human carelessness in introducing an invasive species. A correction though, Pterois aren't "poisonous" as stated (in fact, they're delicious to consume... and one control mechanism being tried is to encourage fishing for them for human food), they're venomous. BobF

Only four days left to Protect Chagos 3/1/10
I don't know if anybody is aware of/ has seen this... a worthwhile cause I think..
Simon Trippick
<Will post, share. BobF>
Subject: Only four days left to Protect Chagos
Sign the petition...
Please add your details to the petition on our campaign site
This will register your support for the creation of a Chagos no-take Marine Protected Area and encourage the British Government to make it a reality.
ZSL Event...
This Wednesday 3rd March the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) are hosting an evening of talks on the Chagos. We'd love to see you there!
Event information
With your help, we can make a difference.
Following the extension of the public consultation, we now have until 5th March -- just four days away -- to persuade the British government to designate a no-take Marine Reserve in the Chagos.
Thank you all so much for signing our petition and showing your support for this campaign. We've already got 24,000 signatures, but it would be great to get some more and show the government that this is something we really care about.
Please forward this email to your friends and ask them to visit www.protectchagos.org to sign the petition.
Letters of support for a Marine Reserve closed to commercial fisheries in the Chagos have been flooding in from NGOs and scientists around the world.
Our campaign now has the backing of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to Coral Cay Conservation, the American Association for Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) to Fauna and Flora International.
Their support for the Chagos Protected Area is vital, but support from the public is hugely important too if we are to convince the government to take this crucial step for marine conservation.
Please forward this email to your friends and ask them to visit www.protectchagos.org to sign the petition.
Once again, thank you all so much for your support -- to have amassed over 20,000 signatures in a few weeks is absolutely fabulous.
We'll let you know the final numbers next week once we've handed the petition to the government, but for now fingers crossed... and don't forget to tell your friends!

18/02/10 Sustainability question...morality 2/18/10

<Hello whoever you are..>
In your opinion, is it wrong for a consumer of marine livestock to purchase non aqua-cultured or tank bred specimens?
<Not in my opinion>
I understand that there are sustainable ways to harvest fish and liverock, and that in many cases it's a viable industry which employs people and supports families in far away countries.
However, and more so in the case of fish, ensuring that one is buying from a legitimate source seems pretty difficult.
<Legitimate? In what way? Do you mean legal? How do you know your food fish are legal? The real fact is, 50% of all food fishes are illegally caught, with no way of tracing them>
As far as purchasing wild caught corals, I no longer have the conscience to do it.
<Mmmm, there are some species which are more common than others.... a bit of research on your part should reveal some of these, or at least species to avoid. Euphyllids, for example, are mainly questionable in my opinion>
There are simply more "ticks" in the con column, as far as I can figure.
<You are applying a 'black and white' approach here. Perfectly reasonable if that is what you wish to do, but if you wish to make an informed decision instead then some time spent on research would be a good idea. A pointer for you here, a recent list of proposed species of corals to be protected has been released this week :
http://www.coralmagazine-us.com/content/endangered-corals .You could buy Veron's set of three coral ID books :
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Corals-World-Vol-Slip-Cover/dp/0642322368 - an amazing purchase by the way anyway - and match up the species on that list with the same and similar corals in the book. Now you've got a reasonable idea about how to still buy wild corals and have your conscience clear, because lets not forget - if you don't support local communities by purchasing some wild, then these communities will look for some other way
of supporting themselves and they will stop wanting their reefs to stay alive so much>
Anyway, I am eager to learn the opinion on your staff on this subject.
<You have mine, but it is only mine I can't speak for the rest of the crew.
As far as fishes are concerned, compared to the food fish industry, we are talking minute numbers of species, a tiny fraction of a percent, and most species sold in the petfish industry are very common. Watch this if you are interested and you will get some idea of the scale:
http://endoftheline.com/ . From what I remember, the petfish industry is not even mentioned as a contributor>
There's a nice question in the Marine inbox re: ethics of collecting wild-caught fish. I think that's one you might want to answer. Cheers, Neale
I saw it on the way in... was hoping to gain from others replying. B

Re Sustainability question...morality 2/19/10
> Yes, I saw Simon took a crack at it, and did a good job, I think.
> I do think there's an issue with a few species though. I know you don't agree about Banggai cardinals or Synchiropus spp., but there are some scientists who are concerned. And the freshwater side of the hobby does have the potential to cause problems, as was the case of the Celestial Pearl Danio, though the relative ease with which freshwater fish are bred does seem to allow the hobby to "dodge the bullet" even in those cases.
But as Simon, you, and others have said, collecting wild fish for pets puts an incentive on both on sustainable methods and efficient handling after capture, so in theory, should provide a good way for local communities to skim a profit off healthy reefs and rainforest streams.
Cheers, Neale
<Mmm... what are the principal "roots of our mis/ and mal-content?"... Too easy trends to over-population, pollution of our own and others "nests"... A lack of enlightenment re putting ones resources where emphases lie for sure. The resources pissed on so-called "defenc/se"... basically the conniving of some individuals, companies to set people against each other for their own personal monetary and political gain... Let me stop here and thank you again for your intelligent, earnest friendship. BobF>
> Ah, yes, the military/industrial complex Republican (!) President Eisenhower warned us about. When wars become profitable, and the only things lost are the lives of young men, then we set ourselves up for disasters of our own creation.
> Cheers, Neale
<Or allowance. B>

Aloha from Maui, Hawaiian Reef Resource Use, Humans period 12/17/09
aloha Mr. Fenner and Crew,
My name is Darrel R Smith, I own a custom marine aquarium service business here on the island of Maui. I previously worked in biotechnology and have developed a real appreciation for the subtle science of maintaining captive seas. The fellow who gave me my first job in the industry is Rick Umphress of Oahu, Reef Encounters Hawaii who has been serving the Hawaiian islands for 30 years. He gave me Mr. Fenner's book which Mr. Fenner had autographed for him.
<Hello to you both>
As you know our industry has been under attack for years from The Snorkel Bob Foundation. They have many websites setup to spread their misinformation about the hobby and career we have all come to love.
<Yes... and it/this is indeed a shame. I have known "Bob" for quite a while; a good writer and keen beach-gear rental businessman... I know our fields of interest (snorkeling and ornamental aquatics keeping) to be of identical purpose and direction (fostering appreciation and preservation of living reefs). There is no need, use for antagonism twixt us here.>
I know Eric Koch of Maui Mariculture has contacted you Mr. Fenner, but I wanted to follow up with some new information.
a new website has been created where you, Mr. Fenner are quoted on the front page. I was hoping you could review the site and if you had a moment to perhaps contact the webmaster if indeed you are being misquoted.
<Mmm, well, I have not seen this site, nor given authorization to quote me; and the one statement is dated... Likely a few percent of wild (and captive produced) marine livestock live in excess of a year in captivity nowadays.
Yes, the mortality rate is high... but very likely no higher than natural rates. The aquarium trade does a huge bit of good on the positive side in bringing awareness to the general public and encouraging intelligent, sustainable use of resources around the world, especially important in poor economies.
What is lacking here (on the site, and in general discussions) is "other sources of mortality"... In Hawai'i' in particular, there is a huge loss of tropicals to casual spear fishers and net throwers... and much more than all other causes is environmental degradation IMO. Where is the call for discovering, disclosing, monitoring and regulating these sources of mortality?>
Eric Koch and I are actively defending our trade at marine resource council meetings and in the media. I twice debated Snorkel Bob's co-conspirator, Renee Umberger on a local radio program that discussed environmental issues here on Maui and abroad. We have also done what we can at the state and local govt. level, but our opponents are many and are well funded.
<Yes... the ongoing increase in abusive government sans accountability.
Another "natural trend" in the development of societies>
We are fortunate now that many traditional fisherman here on Maui, some who previously supported Snorkel Bob's version of the truth, are beginning to see through his smoke and mirrors in pursuit of his own personal agenda.
DLNR members too have grown weary of his misconceptions. But we are still in trouble and in need of assistance.
I appreciate the information your website provides, you are an excellent resource. Thanks!
Aloha from Maui,
Darrel Smith
<How is it that I may (further) aid your efforts? I have been steadfast, and still assuredly am "pro-use" of our world. It is my stand that the tropical fish industry does a huge amount of good in our world.
A hu'i hou! Bob Fenner>

Re: aloha from Maui 12/17/09
Hi Bob, Darrel,
I was very interested in the message about Snorkel Bob. I read the question this morning, and hope you don't mind me commenting. I looked over the site, and as someone who actually was educated as a marine biologist, I though the site was disingenuous.
<Good, descriptive adverb here>
For a start, even you accept a 5% survival rate for marine organisms, that's a heck of a lot better than the survival rate for species collected by fisherman targeting edible species.
Indeed, fishing methods like dredging probably have something like a 1000% mortality rate, given that for every one edible fish or prawn captured, at least another nine sizeable marine organisms are thrown overboard, dead, because they are of no commercial value.
A lot of bad numbers seem to come from Exploitation of coral reef fishes for the aquarium trade, a report to the Marine Conservation Society, i.e., Wood 1985. That's a really old study that Bob may be familiar with. I remember reading it when I was in college. While probably an accurate reflection of how marine fish prospered in the 1970s and 1980s, it isn't even remotely relevant to the modern hobby. It would be rather like talking about computer science today quoting from a report written in the 1960s.
There's a lot of stuff that falls into logical fallacies. For example, just because "25 - 30 million animals are traded each year" isn't necessarily the reason why "90% of the reefs show missing groups of fish and rare species" despite the way that section is worded. Indeed, there are very good reasons to put down local changes in diversity to a whole bunch of other factors. If the only species missing are ornamental fish species, that would be one thing, but that isn't stated here.
<And I can assure you, catch-data et al. show declines in most all measured stocks>
If the 90% includes lots of other things that aquarists have no interest in at all, then clearly the whole issue is more complex than Snorkel Bob is making out.
<It is... I'll make a declarative statement here: S.Bob and others have their own unstated agendas... His business likely contributes a very great deal to nearshore reef destruction (renting snorkel gear et al. to neophytes)... In attacking the "trop. trade" here I think he hopes to deflect blame, perhaps legislation and gain some sort of "P.R." as a protector of the reefs>
What worries me here is that the author has enough scientific literacy to be able to read the papers and books, but not enough scientific understanding to weigh all the arguments and synthesise an argument properly.
<Ah, Neale... that's not the intent my friend. What is that favoured definition of rhetoric? "The art of persuasive argument/presentation". The desired result here is to cast dispersions, not enlighten folks.>
Instead the author seems to be cherry picking bits of bad news, stringing them together, and hoping no-one spots the flaws. So you end up with vague, hand-waving statements like "The removal of cleaner fishes may result in higher parasite load on other reef fishes" and "the removal of coral and live rock can destroy reef habitat". Well, yes, these things may happen and can happen, but then again I *may* win the lottery and I *can* make out with a Victoria's Secret model. Doesn't necessarily mean either of those things is likely.
<Dang! Are my chances/odds any better with these?>
The big issues that cause problems for the world's oceans aren't collecting for marine aquaria -- but things like coastal development, dredging, climate change, sewage, and all those other problems that go along with a growing human population. If healthy reefs can be exploited, whether for tourism or ornamental fish collecting, that places a value on them that local people can appreciate.
<And the dollars/currency available for activities/uses will drive these>
Yes, there's an issue on management, and historically fisheries management has been incredibly bad even in Europe and the US, let alone places with weaker traditions of accountability and scientific rigour. But sustainable exploitation of reefs for ornamental fish species is one way to make reefs "pay for themselves" in a world that values profits above anything else.
<Yes; assuredly>
I'd like to have seen Snorkel Bob concentrate on things aquarists could do to help. Have collectors target species with good survival records. Promote ethical collecting methods that reduce mortality and waste. Encourage more captive breeding. Encourage retailers to state the site where a fish was collected, so aquarists can make informed decisions between countries with "good" industries and "bad".
Cheers, Neale
<Were there but time, interest, rationale sufficient in our species. I despair at times to see what "we" throw our resources away on... e.g. some quarter of all GDP on "defense", murdering other peoples to "free them"... Still, there are reasons to not be totally discouraged. Encouraging others to consider their lives, w/in context of the living world, as we do as "content providers" does some good in re-directing people to the positive. We are "in the life business", and I am glad for this. BobF>

Re: aloha from Maui 12/18/09
<And you>
Thank you both for your thoughtful replies. Having previously worked in nuclear power, biologics manufacturing (vaccines) and pharmaceutical manufacturing, I was used to an abusive response from certain groups of people when discussing my livelihood. I thought, when I moved to Maui that I had picked a peaceful and interesting trade that would enrich mine and others lives. Whoops on the peaceful part.
I often make a point to my activist friends about the modern environmental movement and the seemingly ubiquitous nature of the public perception of, and their responsibility to, the biosphere and how impressive that is considering the birth of the modern movement after the Apollo missions is a blink of an eye since we left the caves 50,000 years ago.
<... some not quite>
It is ironic that this same saturation of thought also lends itself to people jumping on the snorkel bob bandwagon because they hear the phrase uttered "environmental impact".
It is difficult to wade through their "feelings" wielding intellectual ammunition in pursuit of some middle ground.
<Mmm, yep>
I was comforted by your response as it echoes that ideas that I have expressed ad nauseum. It is difficult I have found as we aren't dealing with folks who are interested in a lively debate. As soon as it became apparent that I knew what I was talking about and could evaluate their statements and present a fact based reply, they sequestered me from participating in many discussions. My personal theory about the origins of the tropical fishery may have soured them beyond repair. If you are interested I will share.
<Please do>
I agree with you Mr. Fenner, about the impact of spearfisherman.
<Anyone who has spent real time in Hawaii, on any of the islands knows just how huge this "sport" and source of food for indigenous fishers is. Greater than the trop. industry's "take" by far>
Right now, however, Eric Koch and I have discovered that they are slowly coming to grips with the nature of the opposition and perhaps fearing for their own future, should Snorkel Bob's efforts come to fruition, are drifting towards our side. With <4 of us fighting for our lives, any support is welcome. I'm sure the haze is clearing and they fear a precedent for future forays into fishery management by special interests rather than resource users.
I appreciate Neale's ideas regarding positive steps that Snorkel Bob could be taking, they are well thought out and excellent positive statement to offer at marine resource council meetings here.
I'm not sure, Mr. Fenner, how you can be of help. I am formulating a plan that I hope to implement in the new year, When I have more idea about the angle I will pursue I will be in touch. At some point, you refuting the statements attributed to you, may come in to play. Thanks for the offer.
<A pleasure to assist you here>
Thank you again for your detailed replies. On this rock, adrift from most reasoned debate, it was most welcome.
Aloha and Mahalo,
<Be seeing you. BobF>

Hawaiian Reefs In Danger? 12/17/09
Hello Bob,
Being that you have had numerous dives on the Hawaiian Reefs, I'd be very interested to know your feelings as to the comments made in this video.
<Thousands of species of fishes, not hundreds on reefs... Hawaii is NOT the principal source of marine livestock used in the trade, not even in the U.S.. They are not collected in HI in ways that damage the reef intentionally; and NEVER use gill nets as stated... This is a typical one-sided "pro" piece with mis-statements re capture techniques, holding...
As anyone with even just beginning marine aquarium experience will/would know. While I do applaud these folks (I guess the HI Audubon Soc. is involved per the credits at the end) at inspiring intelligent use of the living world, I don't agree with much that is stated here. In particular, the lack of questioning, introduction of other sources of mortality. Please see today's "Daily FAQs" re. Bob Fenner>

Re: Hawaiian Reefs In Danger? 12/17/09
Thanks a bunch. I didn't think you would be in total agreement with that.
<Ahh, no. There are some very large challenges facing humans currently... I don't find that adding noise w/o reason is of value.
Cheers and life to you, BobF>

Research Paper on the economic effect the saltwater fish and coral trade has on
the small indo-pacific villages 11/3/09

Bob, I was hoping you could give me some insight or some information about my upcoming research paper. The paper I am writing is for my masters degree and it is on the economic effect the saltwater fish and coral trade has on the small indo-pacific villages and towns. I figured you had done some sort of study on something close to this or knew someone who had and could point me in the right direction for fact finding.
Thanks for the help.
<I am very interested in the subject, but unfortunately... am unfamiliar with such studies... I will ask here (BCC) friends in the industry who may be aware of such research, or at least base-line data you might find of use. If nothing else, you could plan on doing some original research...
Actually traveling to the areas yourself. Bob Fenner>

Re: SAIA Website Update!!! Code of Best Practices Drafts online!!!! 9/23/09
Dear Bob,
<Hello Christiane>
many thanks for your message and encouragement.
We are now on the way to officially register SAIA at the EU. Although you are not living in the EU we would like to invite you to become an associate member of SAIA and part of our expert group to advice on the development of SAIA projects and information materials.
<I will gladly help you in what way/s I can/may>
It would be a great honour to us to welcome you on board of our cruising ship on its way to unknown territories....
Please let me know if you are interested to become an associate member of SAIA.
I look forward to hearing from you again.
Christiane Schmidt

Get the Drift And Bag It All Need Volunteers -- 09/03/09
Conservancy website at
To see what the world has done during the ICC, go to www.flickr.com & search International Coastal Cleanup.
More on the International Coastal Cleanup...
Join us for the 24th annual International Coastal Cleanup in September. At last year's Cleanup, nearly 400,000 volunteers collected more than 6.8 million pounds of trash in 100 countries and 42 US states ­ the largest volunteer effort of its kind. Invite your friends to come, too!
Ocean Conservancy's International Coastal Cleanup isn't just about pollution cleanup ­ it's also about pollution prevention. The event focuses on > educating and empowering people to become a part of the marine debris solution.
By banding together with other people in your community and around the globe ­ you will be rewarded with the satisfaction of knowing you are making a difference. In addition, you'll meet other like-minded people, become better acquainted with your natural surroundings, learn about ocean conservation issues, and have lots of fun!
To learn more about this project, please visit

Info on "plastic plankton" 5/1/09
Depressing reality. And to think, I spent years working on plastic bottles!
<Thank you for sending this along Rick. BobF>
We now live in a plastic world where even our plankton has gone plastic - good thing I looked as some plankton here before all I was studying was plastic!
Kara Osada-D'Avella

Queen Trigger... sys., not releasing TWA life, any life where it is or not indigenous 3/12/2009 Hello Bob, <Ferdinand> I have a 4 feet long, 20 inches tall and 20 inches wide aquarium with a 20 gallon sump underneath. Is this size aquarium suitable for me to put 6.5 inches queen trigger for one year and half? <Mmm, by itself? Likely so...> Afterwards, I plan to let it go to the sea <No my friend... Really NO! An exceedingly poor idea. Please not only should you never release non-indigenous species to the wild, you should be on the forefront of educating others in NOT doing this> since I live in Jakarta, Indonesia close to the beach. Hope to hear from you soon, thank you. Regards, Ferdinand. <Have been there, Bali, Lombok, Sulawesi... to many other wonderful islands of Indo... Please, help keep them natural. Bob Fenner>

Re: Queen Trigger 3/12/2009 Hi Bob, <Ferdinand> Thanks for the quick reply. Out of my curiosity, is it possible that you could explain to me why is it such a poor idea for the queen trigger (imported from Brazil) as the non-indigenous species to be released into the wild since Indonesian marine life also have many habitat of aggressive types of trigger fish such as undulated or titan trigger? <I certainly will... There exists, even though remote, some chance of this fish, Balistes vetula, finding, mating with either another released member of its species, or perhaps cross-breeding with a close-enough related species... This event might well be catastrophic to existing stocks of wildlife... displacing other species, occupying habitat, consuming other desired species (as in any)... Another possible source of trouble might be pathogenic and parasitic disease that might be introduced, spread through your action here... I encourage you to take a look at the current troubles with the introduction of Indo-Pacific life... The Volitans Lion particularly as a case study... Perhaps starting here: http://www.invasivespeciesinfo.gov/aquatics/lionfish.shtml and the links therein... sobering> Moreover, if I cannot release the queen trigger into the wild, how long is the maximum time for me to keep this particular fish by itself in a happy mood in my aquarium size before they outgrow the tank? <Perhaps a few years... with scant feeding, a bit longer> I appreciate your time and information. Thank you. <Thank you for this chance/discourse. BobF>

About Horseshoe Crabs 12/11/08 I understand that they need a large environment to survive, however my question is about the possibility of raising them in an aquarium to be released back into the oceans, and whether this would in some small way help populations. <Mmm... not wanting to encourage this sort of well-intentioned activity... Such efforts are not only almost always unsuccessful (the animals aren't "well-adapted" to wild living conditions, the root problems with the environment aren't solved thereby... And the hypocrisy of using other resources to favor some other species... Better to advocate longer term real fixes... Like our species getting out of the death business (more than a quarter of collective GDP is spent/wasted on "defense") and improving the life still here... including urging other humans not to reproduce... Really> I realize that they lay thousands upon thousands of eggs, but due to their rapid declines in numbers it would seem logical to assume that if many could be kept from predation, raised to a suitable size for survival, and then released, it could help their numbers. So here are the questions: 1. How large would a H.S.C. need to be to have a good chance of surviving (or how old/many moltings)? <... this information is available on the Net> 2. Would it be best to release them in warmer weather, and on beaches to avoid temperature shock? <It would likely be illegal to introduce any cultured animal thus... Please, don't do this> 3. Out of the four surviving species are any capable of survival in salinity deprived conditions (freshwater) or in Salt Lakes (such as the famous Salt Lake in Utah)? <Not as far as I'm aware... and again... not only is this an extremely poor idea in terms of likely success, ethos, but also likely criminal... Release NOTHING cultured or non-indigenous to ANY environment> 4. Are any found on the West Coast of the United States - as I have yet to find any material mentioning whether they are off the coast of California to Washington, and only one species is mentioned as being around the United State's East Coast and Gulf Coasts. <None on the west coast> 5. If any are on the West Coast would it be Carcinoscorpius rotundicauda, rather than the listed species of Limulus polyphemus in the Atlantic and Gulf - and if none are, could they be introduced to possibly help the other Horseshoe Crab species since they are already in the Pacific (same would apply for both Tachypleus tridentatus and Tachypleus gigas)? <Please...> Sorry for the many questions, but for years I have been fascinated with what is likely the oldest species living on the planet, <Not the oldest species...> unchanged and living since the rise of the Synapsids some 300 or more million years ago. Thanks! <I do want to encourage you to further consider, re-direct your efforts... What can we do to preserve what is here? Bob Fenner>

Laws governing Aquatic pets 9/17/08 Hi Bob I am from India, and first of all let me thank you for having such a wonderful website, which has helped me a lot. For some time now, I have been trying to find out as to what we can keep as pets, legally in India. In addition to this I also want to know what are legal requirements in USA & UK. This is not a commercial study just a knowledge widening quest. I would be grateful if you can point out some literature where I can get list of acts/ rules in keeping pets in UK & USA. I have already written a small piece on Indian Wildlife Act 1972 check this out http://indianaquariumhobbyist.com/community/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=113 Thanks in advance <I know precious little re such matters other than about the U.S.... there is a huge body (history) of such law... the Lacey Act... for instance... I would write to PIJAC.org for some input here: www.pijac.org/ Bob Fenner>

Why you shouldn't release your fish into native waters 08/15/2008 Dear Crew, <<Good afternoon, Andrew today>> An interesting story on the Caribbean invasion of Lionfish. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26184738/wid/18298287/?GT1=45002 Andy <<Yes, a very interesting story indeed, especially the location where the lionfish is supposed to of come from. Its an issue which is always close to aquarists hearts, fish being released into the wild. Most have zero thought on what far reaching impacts a simple action of releasing a fish back in the habitat. Thanks for writing in regarding this subject.. It's something that I am sure a lot of us will be following. A Nixon>> <Again, but not for the last time: Release NOTHING to the wild. RMF>

CORAL BASE ROCK - ETC -- 07/11/08 Dear Bob, <Marty> Just back from the San Antonio COA (Conchologists of America Convention) and see your friends possible need of a quantity of coral base rock. We have some stock here -- but are low. A container just left yesterday with 2000 kg of coral rock -- so suggest it best to wait for this to arrive (around mid August). Just let us know -- or have your friend contact us. <Was an open query on WWM. Did you write them directly? I hope so> Re Charlie Vernon's newest work A REEF IN TIME and ocean acidification -- earlier this week there was a short blurb on exactly that -- it was on either channels 2 or 4 late news. At least it's starting to become recognized as a real and immediate problem that needs addressing ASAP! <Ah yes... the carbonate sink... again... but now, we happen to be here while it's happening... Well, we did our bit... didn't reproduce> All for now -- Regards, Marty Marty Beals Tideline <BobF>

CO2 Pollution Could Erase Coral Reefs | Wired Science from Wired.com 7/3/08 Should attach this to the CO2 articles J -- <D'oh! Will do. B>

Quick question about a local caught fish Ich, Local Caught Fish, Returning to Ocean (Please do NOT) 4/24/08 Hello again WWM Crew, hope your having a good day. <Yes thanks.> Thank you for all your previous help. Today I got a question for you that I would just like some verification with. Awhile ago I had a tank come down with Ich, you probably don't remember but I don't need to get into the details. Anyway, I left the tank fallow for 6 weeks and then placed a single Golden Headed Sleeper Goby in the tank. After a few weeks of timidity, he became more outgoing during the day and now no longer runs to his hideaway whenever you're looking at him up close. I feed him with New Life Spectrum pellets by sprinkling them onto the sand in front of his hideaway, he usually comes out and picks em up (I never see any in the tank not eaten). Occasionally I'll feed him some frozen brine as a treat. <Good> So he's been in the tank for at least 2 months by himself with some inverts (all added before his entry) and has never shown any sign of disease or unusual behavior. However, 3 weeks ago I placed in there a Red-Lipped Blenny who was getting too large for his previous home (about 6 inches). I figured he'd be a good companion and although they was some initial showing off by the Sleeper, there has never been any fighting. However, he's come down with a very very serious case of Ich. I have never seen the Sleeper with a spot, or any flashing behavior, and his breathing is always very calm. The blenny is going nuts, and I am going to return him to the ocean where he came from as soon as possible. <Please do NOT do this, returning fish to the wild after being exposed to exotic disease is very very bad, especially when it is know to be sick. Can be potentially extremely dangerous to the natural ecosystem. Once a fish comes in contact with anything not from its natural environment it cannot be safely returned to the wild. I can not stress enough how bad, and possibly illegal, this is.> My question is, is it possible the Sleeper is immune to Ich (or resistant) from previous exposure at a store, exc...or is he a carrier? <Probably has some degree of acquired immunity, should be considered a "carrier" here.> I wouldn't think he was a carrier because I've had him in three different tanks which are all still Ich free several months later. I would assume rather that the Cysts were still present on the Rock even after the 6 week fallow period. <Probably was never completely cured and then reinfected the tank, or the blenny was infected and then got really sick with the stress of the new tank.> Maybe I should have waited longer then 6 weeks....I guess my questions are: Will returning the Blenny to the Ocean ensure his survival? <No, almost certainly doom it and potentially other fish it comes in contact with, better to put it down than place it back into the ocean.> I am acting under the assumption that the large water volume will allow him to shed the parasites without their return. <More likely will be quickly eaten and potentially infect the environment with exotic pathogens, BAD!> I've had him for over 3 years and I hate losing any fish which I have collected (I've only lost a couple over the last decade). I'd rather return him then treat him because I feel it's time for him to go back (an advantage of collecting fish locally). <Not an advantage, once a fish hits you tank it cannot be returned unless all live rock, sand, and other livestock have come from the same area, and never been to a fish store, had equipment used in a non-native tank, or any situation when contamination can occur, otherwise the results are potentially disastrous.> Also, since the Sleeper goby does not appear to be affected will I have to remove him and treat him? <Not necessarily, its immunity will protect it for some time.> I really do not want to subject him to a chemical regimen if it is not necessary as he's adapted very well to his new home. I must admit, having a sleeper goby alone in a tank is quite cool, he's obviously much more comfortable then he was in other tanks (with other fish). <Yes> Thanks in advance again and have a great day. Cory, Miami. <You too.> <Chris>

Re: Quick question about a local caught fish Re: Ich, Local Caught Fish, Returning to Ocean (Please do NOT) 4/25/08 Wow, fast reply. <Up a little late last night.> Alright Ill treat the blenny. <Good> Whenever I've returned fish in the past they have always been in "Ocean" Tanks meaning only recently have I started mixing store bought fish with wild caught fish. <Ah, as long as the "ocean" tanks are kept separate from the other tanks, and separate equipment is used to avoid cross-contamination, then returning them to the wild does not represent a problem.> Usually when I have tanks like that I don't mix anything from a store with anything that I catch, including rocks or inverts. But that's too bad, he's really getting too big for a tank. I don't think the store will take him (after treatment). No reason to put him down though. He'll survive. Thanks for your help. Cory, Miami <Perhaps another local fish keeper has room for him?> <Chris>

50% of Coral Reefs Died in 12 Months http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UoGKdeAEwRY <Alarmist to a degree... but a very bad trend... Reduce consumption? Cut reproduction? Switch to less thermal generational energy types? What will you do? BobF>

Dardanus megistos question... Do NOT release tropicals to the wild! 11/21/07 Hi Crew! First off, your website has provided me with TONS of helpful information! Thank you! Now, on to my question. My husband (who doesn't know too much about saltwater endeavors) thought it would be nice to get me a crab for my 65 gal reef tank. Nice thought... however he ended up getting me a Dardanus megistos! Not reef safe... <Yikes, no> The store he got the little guy from won't take him back, and I'm kind of stuck with him for now. My question is this: We are going to be visiting the California coast and I thought maybe we could 'free' the crab while were there. <Please... Do NOT do this. Take it to a LFS and give it to them to place in a tropical setting> Will this crab survive in the chilly waters of the Pacific? <No... and it may well harbor some microscopic "issue"... that you do NOT want to be party to having released/distributed> I know it comes from warmer waters, but is this a far stretch? Thanks for any advice! -Chris <Again, my standard input here re such introductions of non-indigenous species: Do NOT release any non-native organism to a habitat where it can get loose, bring or cause trouble. PLEASE! Bob Fenner>

College research... how government and society has effected the world's coral reefs 10/31/07 I am currently writing a research paper about how government and society as effected the world's coral reefs. Are there any books that you know of that can help me out? I know there is plenty of information on the internet but my professor is pretty old school and he will not let me use any internet references. Thanks, Jared <? Mmm, this is "too old school" to be believable... Do take an initial read on UNEP and WCMC's "World Atlas of Coral Reefs"... and further in the mixed-usability publications of the latter agency's... particularly "The World Trade in Coral"... you can find my review of this last posted on WWM. Irrespective of anyone's supposed wishes, I strongly suggest you seek out the help of a reference librarian in the life science section... and have them show you the basics of computer search bibliographic work... Journals are much more current than in-print books... The Net way ahead of both. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Feeding frenzy... sources of mort. f' 8/9/07 Robert -- <Sir Neale> An interesting article, especially given that tuna fish was 50% off at the supermarket today. They're selling it as a loss-leader, when tuna fish populations are simply being lost. If that sort of thing doesn't damn us all to hell, I don't know what will. http://www.monbiot.com/archives/2007/04/03/feeding-frenzy/ Cheers, Neale <Who can figure...? BobF>

Ref. for Reef Bleaching, Demise 2/16/07 Hello guys and girls, I have a non aquarium related query. Would it be possible for you to steer me in the direction of a website containing statistics relating to reef bleaching and the demise of coral reefs globally? <Mmm... the UNEP, WCMC World Atlas of Coral Reefs is my best one shot lead: see www.unep-wcmc.org> This for a school project and I've Googled until, metaphorically, my eyes bled. Thank you for helping me and so many others. Will <Welcome. Please do get back with me/us re your searching, surmisings. Bob Fenner>

Use of Coral in Jewelry - 10/10/06 Bob, I want to ask a question regarding coral and jewelry. I really want to get a piece of coral jewelry and I want to find out if jewelry is making a big impact on the destruction of the reefs. <Actually, ornamental use of the oceans is a very minor source of mortality... Please see here re: http://wetwebmedia.com/sourcesmortworldreefs.htm Bob/DF in Sing.>

Saltwater U , sharing views on what ails Earth - 5/8/2006 Bob, You really should change your photo on stuff! I didn't recognize you at all! There, I said it. :D I kind of felt like a fool talking about Calfo writing Reef Invertebrates when you were right there! But, <Heee! Will look about, try to get a better, more current pic> Anyway, it was great to meet you - and to hear my name pronounced in Latin or Aramaic or whatever that was you were speaking. <Ahh... Babel fish... am a speaker in tongues> I'm sorry if I looked kind of stupefied, but I was. I've heard that "Melissa" means "honey bee" but I've never heard it pronounced so. Melissa officinalis is also a plant of which the essential oil can cost upwards of $40/ml. Who knew! Anyway, I really enjoyed your talk today, and am thankful you mentioned something about population control. That is a subject I wish more folks would bring up. <I as well... what boots it that the Gates's, Bonos of the world, well-intentioned as they might be, do nothing to cure the real root of human et al. misery on our world...?> I mean, does everyone have to have kids? Geez! I think some people consider what might be (read "is") happening to the environment at the hands of humans, but don't really consider our place here on Earth. I had a tubal ligation last month and when people hear that they think I'm nuts. They all say, "Oh, you'll wish you had kids one day." <What, small goats? You can always move to, get a farm... To be honest (as always), "we are all about the same" and you are all my children... as am I yours> I highly doubt it. If I could write off my dogs as dependents, I'd be in hog heaven. <Mmm, I/we do... but this is a minor/other matter> But honestly, who really is at fault for the continual abuse of our resources? <Look about... easy enough to see> The answer is obvious to me. Perhaps I'm one of few. We're truly parasites on this planet - the red bugs of Earth, if you will. It's sad that hardly anyone realizes that fact. <Yes... perhaps the greatest example of self-denial... at the personal, family, national, global level> I hope you enjoyed our little town of Atlanta and our new aquarium. It was wonderful to meet you. I've read countless numbers of your writings online and in print. Very informative and entertaining. The speech today was wonderful. I hope you didn't miss the Kentucky Derby - we had to TIVO it. :D Take it easy! Melissa <A pleasure to share. Thank you. Bob Fenner>

Earth Day is Saturday, April 22nd

The signs are everywhere. Our oceans are beginning to receive their necessary and long overdue attention. But despite these signs, the average American's experience with the ocean is limited to a seafood meal or a visit to the beach. For most there is no reason to worry about what is happening beneath the waves far offshore. Throughout my career, I have worked to transform my love of oceans into a concerted effort to protect and expand our understanding of them. That is why we at Absolutely Fish support educational programs and opportunities to connect with animals while learning about the importance of conservation. Although most of you already know we are members of MAC (Marine Aquarium Council), we are also one of the founding members of CRAAG (Coral Reefs and Aquarium Advisory Group). We will have information and support to the following groups set up in the store on Earth Day week - April 17 - 21. CRAAG (Coral Reefs and Aquarium Advisory Group) The Ocean Conservancy - www.oceanconservancy.org Seafood Watch (Sponsored by Monterey Bay Aquarium) C.A.R.E.S. (Conservation, Awareness, and Recognition Endangered Species Program) Conserve Wildlife NJ - www.conservewildlifenj.org We urge all of you to stop by, look at the fish and pick up information (and possibly join) one of these groups. Please do something for the animals you admire as pets and help sustain their future on this earth. Patrick D.

Our schedule of events: T.V. Program - An Evening with Art Murray - Aquariums: The Art, Education and Conservation; Guest: D. Patrick Donston of "Absolutely Fish Inc" (Check your local listings) Thurs. April 20 - Assembly Dr. William Horton School, Newark - We care for the animals in the ocean

Round Table Discussions:

  • Tues. April 18, 4-6pm - Setting Up Aquariums (For beginners)
  • Tues. April 18, 7pm - Marine Fish: Keeping them Disease Free
  • Wed. April 19, 7pm - The Planted Aquariums
  • Thurs. April 20, 7pm - Reef Aquarium Synopsis

Click here for a synopsis of the event and guest speaker info Watch for extra specials during Earth Day week!

Visit us on the web at www.absolutelyfish.com

CNN.com - Caribbean coral suffers record die-off - Mar 31, 2006 Bob & Crew, Thought I would pass this along for you and the WWM board readers. very sad stuff <Thank you for this... When will folks get serious re discussing, doing what needs, can be done re "root causes"? E.g. When will the catholic pope state that birth control is okay? Bob Fenner> ******************** If you are having trouble with any of the links in this message, or if the URL's are not appearing as links, please follow the instructions at the bottom of this email. Title: CNN.com - Caribbean coral suffers record die-off - Mar 31, 2006 CNN.com will expire this article on 04/30/2006. Copy and paste the following into your Web browser to access the sent link: http://www.emailthis.clickability.com/et/emailThis?clickMap=viewThis&etMailToID=1601064449&pt=Y Copy and paste the following into your Web browser to SAVE THIS link: http://www.savethis.clickability.com/st/saveThisPopupApp?clickMap=saveFromET&partnerID=2006&etMailToID=1601064449&pt=Y Copy and paste the following into your Web browser to forward this link: http://www.emailthis.clickability.com/et/emailThis?clickMap=forward&etMailToID=1601064449&partnerID=2006&pt=Y [Coral-List] Sticky issue Reefs vs. Aquarium Trade - 03/09/2006 To: Coral-List@coral.aoml.noaa.gov Yes it is an overwhelming sticky issue, but the problem is that nobody, specially governments (votes) and religious groups (power of the masses - contributions), wants to even talk about it. On the other hand, it seems that the people who needs the most education are those living in the developing countries, who most of the time drive/push the undeveloped countries to destroy their natural resources to satisfy their ever-increasing appetite for unnecessary things. <...? Simplistic... like what? Food? Clothing? Education for their children?> A good example, at least in our field, is the exploitation/destruction of reefs for the aquarium trade. Major consumers, yes you guessed right, the USA and Europe, at least in some statistics I saw last year. How many of those fish, anemones, shrimps, seahorses, soft- and hard corals do you think survive one year in the aquariums at home or hotels?? <Very few indeed live a year> How many die during the whole process since capture to the retail stores?? <Variable, but likely 10-20% at this junction alone> The same is happening for rainforest and other terrestrial and fresh water system creatures as well, just visit the nearest pet-store. Developed countries usually protect their natural resources well, <Very- overly simplistic and racist... how is "one people" using, mis-using resources "of their own" when all so-called developed countries utilize the resources of so-called undeveloped ones?> but pressure the underdeveloped countries to destroy theirs to satisfy the local markets for these. Are there solutions to these problems, of course there are, are we willing to implement them, well, here is where we are limited because we do not implement policies, we just provide scientific-based recommendation to those responsible to legislate, and most of you know what happen with these recommendations. Saludos, <Again, I would not count on a/the "government" to save the planet... thus far such bureaucracies have consistently proven ineffective, parasitic, and ultimately self-destructive. Bob Fenner> The long view is for the Undead: reefs ARE in trouble today The people who live in these underpopulated areas are still trying to earn a living... often by fishing their own reefs and selling to those who have depleted their own fisheries and willing to pay the price. <What other choices might they have?> Yes, over-population is at the base of many world problems but it is a sticky issue, at once cultural, ethnic and religious. <Yes... for one, can't the Catholic pope say for the sake of humanity that prevention of conception is okay?> Not exactly one to be solved by reef scientists. Perhaps women's education in general and in reproductive rights are the answers? <Part of it, yes> Women want better lives for their children, after they've been fed, saved from curable infectious diseases, and educated....and who is to determine what that better life is? Is it what they perceive as the lives that other children in the world have, including yours? Joan Koven Astrolabe, Inc. <Good questions, remarks. Bob Fenner> A Discussion Regarding PETA's Stance on Pet Fish 10/11/05 Good morning everyone, <Mar> I was doing some Googling for other research, and came across this: http://www.peta.org/factsheet/files/FactsheetDisplay.asp?ID=30 <"You can't keep fish because it's cruel"... retarded> Is anyone else familiar with the PETA stance and propaganda? More importantly, has WWM received any contact from PETA representatives? <Nope> While there are certainly valid points (such as "painted" fish - Mike G's pet cause), as someone who earned her living working the trade, I find some of their assertions disturbing, and their recommendations even worse. Should this be something that is gaining in popularity, it could very well spell the demise of the entire pet fish trade, or at least cut into the hobby. <Some groups have gone "over the edge" in their one-sidedness, militancy...> I'm curious as to what the rest of you think of this - asking the general population nets entirely different results. Marina <Ah, back to the gov't's propaganda... BobF>

A Discussion Regarding PETA's Stance on Pet Fish - Sabrina's Take 10/11/05 I have seen this and/or other such pieces of bunk propaganda from PETA regarding keeping aquarium fish (and various other pets) many, many times in treks across the 'net. My outlook on keeping companion animals (fish included) has not changed for reading these things, though my outlook on PETA has grown more and more grim with each piece from them that I read. These types of articles from PETA and others have been around for a long time, and haven't seemed to impact the aquarium or other pet industry in any significant manner, and I doubt that they ever will. The only folks that will be swayed by these are probably young-ish, impressionable folks that will later grow up and learn better. Or, at least, that's my opinion. -Sabrina

A Discussion Regarding PETA's Stance on Pet Fish - Adam Cesnales Pipes Up.. 10/11/05 Hmmm.. Looks like propaganda typical of any agenda related group.... take facts and exaggerate and spin them to support your agenda. The thing that scares me is that PETA is better organized and better represented that our industry. Also... make no mistake about it..... their goal IS to shut down the trade of most animals (for pet use, food use, etc.). I do agree however, that most folks with any ability to think for themselves see right through such tremendous overstatements. I also agree it would be much better to see certain aspects of the pet fish trade end. Bettas and goldfish as carnival prizes is a classic. Most of these fish go home with people who didn't expect or want them in the first place and are doomed to die (the fish, unfortunately). Also, there is no arguing that some collection, handling and selling practices (cyanide, inappropriate species, etc.) are shameful. All that said... their recommendations are pitiful. I especially jumped at the "3 gallons for every one inch of fish"! Sweet! Now I can feel good about putting my 10" lionfish in a 30 gallon tank..... as long as I have a "proper working air pump" that is! Ha! Adam

A Discussion Regarding PETA's Stance on Pet Fish - Jorie's Suggestion 10/11/05 Perhaps we can write a polite rebuttal to some of the misstatements contained within PETA's article? If we are "politically correct", praise them where they are correct, yet delicately point out where they are mistaken (using research, where possible), perhaps they might consider our position? From what I can tell, WWM has a very good reputation for being conscious aquarists, an even though not as well known as PETA, obviously, it might also be a good way to get the WWM name out there? Just a thought. I'd be happy to help on such an article if we decide to go that route. Jorie <Please do Jorie... am moving, saving the comments to WWM... will add yours as well. BobF>

A Discussion Regarding PETA's Stance on Pet Fish - Sabrina Responds to Jorie's Suggestion 10/11/05 I, for one, would strongly recommend against such an endeavor. When dealing with any group that has militant factions, avoidance is (in my opinion) the best route to take, despite how beneficial other portions of the group might be. PETA for this reason is not a group that I would ever want my name associated with in any manner, and I would feel similarly regarding WWM's "name" (or web presence, or whatever). Just my $0.02, for what it's worth. SCF

A Discussion Regarding PETA's Stance on Pet Fish - Ted Truex Responds 10/11/05 I agree. In my experience, you can't have worthwhile or meaningful discourse with Kool-Aid drinkers. You're better off not engaging. Ted

A Discussion Regarding PETA's Stance on Pet Fish - Back to Marina 10/11/05 To tell the truth, I had not considered at all (hadn't entered my mind) the idea of writing or otherwise communicating with PETA regarding their stance. I agree with Sabrina and Ted. First, I see no point in trying to engage in anything resembling a discussion or debate with people who are clearly deeply entrenched in their belief system and who have no desire to be presented with differing opinions or ideas. It would serve no purpose, ultimately. Second, I must agree with those who make the observation that such attempts at dialogue would more likely lead to an aggressive stance/response from them. However, I thought it would be interesting to discuss amongst ourselves, as well as any others who may wish to offer their insight, and possibly inviting introspection for many hobbyists who visit the site. How many do we deal with who are simply not considering their animals' welfare, whether or not the idea has occurred to them? It needs to enter their heads, first, and I view it only as a state of ignorance, remedied by education. I had only just discovered this page, and actually had no idea (though could have surmised if asked) that PETA had such a stance published on their site. I don't think I could encourage anyone to communicate with PETA, as their stance seems quite clear - there is NO room for other ideas or opinions, no room really for "conscientious" owners. I think the real value lies in exposing *our* readers to different ideas, and it may be helpful for them to come to understand that groups like PETA are a result, I think, of people behaving so irresponsibly with life. While it is not helpful to anthropomorphize other life, I think we'd agree that respect for other life *is*, even if at its core the concept is selfish (species-centrific). Enjoying the discourse! Marina

A Discussion Regarding PETA's Stance on Pet Fish - Jorie Clarifies Her Position 10/11/05 Just to be clear, I am more concerned with teaching non-PETA members what is real and what isn't, as opposed to converting any die-hard PETA members. I have a hard time leaving incorrect facts un-rebutted, as many folks who just don't have any other learning tools at their disposal may erroneously rely on such false facts. I am not suggesting we engage in a 10-yr. long argument with PETA, merely a succinct, factually-based statement of rebuttal, to be taken or left as people so choose. Jorie

A Discussion Regarding PETA's Stance on Pet Fish - A Dissertation by Mike G 10/11/05 Wrote this dissection of their article a few months ago. Thought it was appropriate. <<We have chosen to eliminate quoting of PETA the article in its entirety, as folks can simply follow the above link and read it for themselves. What follows is the remainder of Mr. Giangrasso's article.>>

Extremist extremists? Is there such a thing? By Mike Giangrasso Yes. And the group they belong to is called PETA. Let me make it completely clear: I hate PETA. And now, with their fish-saving-campaign, I hate them even more. One article that particularly irked me was an anti-fish-tank one. It, like nearly all other PETA propaganda, reeked with contradictions, exaggerations, and nonsensical babble. It is on this note that I present to you my own (totally opinionated/biased) interpretation of this article. Okay. True, some inexperienced aquarists may rush headlong into the hobby and put a tang in a 10, but there is a strange group of people PETA forgot to mention, for it would be quite inconvenient for the purpose of this article. This group of people can be referred to as "responsible aquarists." Not every fish needs a million square miles of water to swim in. In fact, a decent majority of fishes we keep only would patrol a small area in nature, and example being clownfish. Wild clownfish are never found without an anemone. They never leave their anemone. Now, there are some truly massive anemones in the ocean, but, the point remains: clowns don't patrol a massive area, and can thus be maintained quite efficiently in home aquaria. Even the species that are accustomed to larger territory can (and have been) kept successfully by those damn responsible aquarists who find alternate ways to a kajillion feet of territory to provide for their needs. An example of this would be the mandarin dragonet. Their territories in the wild encompass more 'pods than we'll ever imagine, so finding nourishment is no issue in the wild. In the hands of the responsible aquarists, 'pods are cultured and fed to the fish, the fish uses its amazing learning skills to be trained to accept substitutes, such as brine shrimp. Of course, there are species that are best left in the ocean, (such as Moorish Idols) but the responsible aquarists know this, and do just that: leave them be. The funniest part about all of this is that PETA frequently quotes studies that prove that fish feel pain and that they are outstandingly intelligent. They preach the word of ichthyologists to reinforce their extremist agenda. I have one question for PETA: If you advocate not harming fish, or any living thing, or even keeping fish in aquaria, how can you approve - and even repeatedly quote - a study during which researchers proved that fish feel pain? Is it because you're just downright stupid and didn't notice that, to come to such a conclusion, fish must be subjected to pain. Multiple fish, that is. Nothing is accepted as scientific fact until several experiments on several control groups all point to the same thing. Isn't this obvious, or did you just conveniently omit this nasty detail in order to reinforce their beliefs? Same goes for the intelligent bit. You also quote a study. Now, you guys are so against the whole animals in labs things for the dogs, cats, monkeys, etc. Funny how I don't see an anti-fish-lab-study site/propaganda article up there. You say so on your site, "If you wouldn't do it to a dog, why do it to a fish?," implying that "Fishing is just as cruel as tossing Rover a biscuit on a hook and then reeling in the old boy. The only difference is that Rover is cute and cuddly. But don't let the scales and gills fool you: Those fish have feelings, too." Speaking objectively, you are saying that, if you fished for a dog, you'd get locked up, but fishing for a fish won't do a damn thing. It's true, but, when you make a statement, you should stick with it all the way, lest you be called "hypocrites." You see, you have sites devoted especially to protecting cute, mammalian animals from evil lab conditions, yet you point to studies (fish feel pain and fish are the smartest beings on this planet - linked to above) during which fish were subjected to these conditions. It seems as if you are protecting the mammals because they are 'cute and cuddly." Honestly, I don't think that you should be letting "the scales and gills fool you," because "those [lab] fish have feelings, too." PETA then drones on about how you should never support the fish trade because only bad comes out of it. They then mention that, have you any fish, you should follow their guidelines to make sure your fish has the most natural life possible. PETA says: '¢ Treat tap water properly before putting it in the aquarium, as most municipal water has chlorine in it, which can kill fish. The type of chemicals that you should use depends on your area's water. Consult with a local tropical fish supply store to determine the proper treatment. Hmm... they want you to consult with your local dealer to buy the right products, which will, in turn, support the dealer ad encourage him to buy fish. Please make a mental bookmark for this one. '¢ Different types of fish require different pH levels. Check the pH level daily for the first month and weekly thereafter. For this, you would need a pH kit. For a pH kit, you must support a dealer and, consequently, the trade. Mental bookmark. '¢ A filter to remove waste particles and noxious chemicals from the water is essential. Live plants help with this task and provide oxygen, shelter, hiding places, and the occasional snack. Filter = mental bookmark for above reasons. '¢ A properly working air pump is necessary to provide oxygen. I'm starting to get the idea that they want me to buy stuff from my dealer. Mental bookmark. '¢ Fish need a constant temperature, generally between 68°F and 76°F, but you should check with a fish supply store for information that is specific to the type of fish that you are keeping.(18) Automatic aquarium heaters monitor the water temperature and turn the heater on and off as needed. Attaching a small thermometer to the tank will help you ensure that the heater is functioning properly. Heater = mental bookmark for above reasons. '¢ The natural waste of fish emits ammonia, which can accumulate to toxic levels, so clean the tank regularly, but never empty the tank completely. Be sure to clean the glass well with a pad or a brush to prevent algae growth. Aside from their asserting that you should purchase an algae pad (mental bookmark), they also tell you that you should kill the innocent algae! Holy crap! Algae have feelings too, ya know! Feelings aside, algae just so happens to be a natural part of any fish's environment, and PETA states earlier that we should strive to provide our poor fish doomed to aquarium life with the most natural habitat possible. So why are we killing algae? '¢ Create places for the fish to hide in and explore. Ceramic objects, natural rocks, and plants work well. Make sure that all objects are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected before they are put into the tank. Do not use metal objects, as they will rust. I have no qualms with this one, aside from the obvious need to mental bookmark it due to the advocated purchase of decor. '¢ Be aware of the environment outside the aquarium. Suddenly switching on a bright light in a dark room can startle fish, and vibrations from a television or a stereo can alarm and stress them. '¢ Keep all harmful chemicals away from the aquarium. Cigarette smoke, paint fumes, and aerosol sprays can be toxic if they are absorbed into the water. No problems here at all, at least not in my eyes. '¢ The aquarium should be in a spot where temperature and light are constant and controllable. Tropical fish supply stores may be able to advise you on the best amount of light for the fish you are keeping. Remember that direct sunlight and drafts from nearby doors or windows can change the water temperature, and fumes from a nearby kitchen or workshop can injure the fish. Bookmark it. '¢ Don't overfeed! Uneaten food and waste material are broken down into ammonia and nitrites, which are toxic. One expert recommends providing only as much food as your fish can eat in 30 seconds. Two exhausted points here. 1. How did your expert gain that info? By keeping fish, and even studying them. 2. Food = dealers = mental bookmark. '¢ If a fish seems sick or lethargic, take him or her to a vet. Fish can be medicated, anesthetized, given shots, and operated on, just like other animals. Take along a separate sample of the tank water. Bad advice. Very few fish diseases actually require veterinary assistance. Pick up a fish disease book, then run off to your dealer (since they seem to like to support the trade) and buy some cure ich tablets or MelaFix. '¢ Most fish enjoy companionship. If you have a single fish, check with friends and neighbors to find another loner to adopt--but don't support the fish trade by going to a dealer. Say it ain't so! Did PETA just tell me not to support the fish trade by going to a dealer. What the... This made me speechless. I'm serious. I almost suffocated due to my explosive laughter upon reading this last point. Go and review them mental bookmarks, and I assure you that you will be doing the same. Mike G

A Discussion Regarding PETA's Stance on Pet Fish - Catherine Adds to the Discussion 10/11/05 I'm not a huge PETA fan, but I'm not a big fan of most of the pet industry either. PETA is correct; many wild caught fish are caught using techniques that lead to collateral damage. PETA seems to be advocating keeping fish in good conditions -- much as we advocate. Don't put goldfish in bowls; put schooling fish in schools; don't flush fish; don't give away fish at carnivals. PETA is attacking the trade in much the same way those of us keep fish do. I think we really agree on 90% of the information PETA gives. It's the way the message is delivered that I have a problem with.

A Discussion Regarding PETA's Stance on Pet Fish - Adam Cesnales Offers More 10/11/05 I agree with all of the above and agree there are serious problems in the trade, but don't fool yourself.... PETA does not want an ethical trade, they want NO trade. If their goal was education and responsibility, they would seek folks like us out and recruit us for those purposes. At very least they would have better researched their own information and recommendations and realized the serious errors. Instead, they try to make people feel guilty for participating in the carnage they portray. A few years ago PETA almost succeeded in pushing through legislation that would have required all animals being transported by air to be carried in pressurized, climate controlled parts of planes. It also required a mountain of paperwork for each transported animal as well as mountains of paperwork to report every injury or death. There is no question that this would have made air transportation of animals unprofitable for the airlines, or driven the price so high that the pet trade would not be profitable. There was no common sense or reasonable expectation in this effort... those pushing it knew that it would destroy the trade of tropical fish as well as many other exotic pets, and that was their real agenda. Also, Mike.... Brilliant! Several of my favorite sayings come to mind..... Salad is Murder! (had this bumper sticker) If we weren't supposed to eat animals, why are they made out of meat? If we weren't supposed to eat animals, why do they taste so good? I like cats... they taste good. I [insert the clover-shaped playing card symbol here instead of the heart] Baby Seals Last but not least, it also crossed my mind that we could volunteer to be the educators on behalf of PETA, but any association at all with such a radical group would be bad. I also agree that they would likely turn the whole thing around on us. Adam <<Marina thinks Adam has a wicked streak of black humor.>> A Discussion Regarding PETA's Stance on Pet Fish - James Gasta 10/11/05 Marina, Agree with saving the reefs. I think much has been done in this regard as many of our purchased corals are propagated by coral farms. I am very much against the use of cyanide for catching fish. Not sure but I think the Philippines is the only area where this is condoned. As far as fishkeeping, I'm for that provided the aquarist provides an environment suitable for the fish to live a long healthy life. After all, they were perfectly happy where they were, no waiting list to enter a home aquarium that I know of:) I also wish that certain species, both fish and invertebrates, that are almost impossible to keep for any length of time (Moorish Idols, Spanish Dancers, etc) be banned from exporting. That probably won't happen in my life time as I've already been here longer than I'm going to stay. Regards, James (Salty Dog)

A Discussion Regarding PETA's Stance on Pet Fish - Jager Well my area used to have the kinder gentler version of PETA, one who worked with the pet stores to spay and neuter animals whose owners wanted it at very low cost. Nowadays it has turned ugly as you all know. One head lady in particular has earned the local PETA chapter the moniker "People for Extreme Terrorist Actions".... As James about the reefs said I'm all for certain fish catching techniques being disbanded and certain fish/corals not being exported, like those who import cleaner wrasses. That is a biggy on my list of no nos.

Re: A Discussion Regarding PETA's Stance on Pet Fish 10/12/05 Here is an interesting link about PETA's dirty little secret: http://www.petakillsanimals.com/petaKillsAnimals.cfm Daniel Gallen <Thank you for this. Bob Fenner>

Re: A Discussion of PETA's Stance on Pet Fish 10/13/05 I agree with Sabrina. and think we as a group must be very careful here. While we don't like PETA's message as it comes across, we also do not want PETA's wrath upon WWM. We have absolutely no idea who reads WWM and while its not a business with a location for PETA to boycott etc, I think they could make even our internet existence uncomfortable if the sponsors pulled their ads due to PETA's interference. I think regardless this discussion should be left out of the FAQ's and off WWM. People are polarized by discussions like this and this one is a very sore spot after all the PetSmart and Petco troubles. I also think that for the readers who do come to WWM that they are smart enough to figure out that PETA's message, as most political stance messages are, is from one side and not a balanced issue paper or anything. <<These discussions are being put up on WWM for anyone to view. Marina>> Please do not get me wrong. I would love to throw red paint on a PETA demonstrator any day that they protest a good and decent pet store, though I do think even though they may be rabid, they do help keep the industry on its toes and at least somewhat better since they have become the bogeymen of our world. <Well-stated Jager. BobF>

PETA - James Adds More of His Insight 10/14/05 In my opinion, the aquarium trade will always be here. It will not be hampered by PETA or any other organization. After all, it is the number one hobby in this country by far. I believe sites like WWM, and there are others, are necessary to help guide the inexperienced aquarist on the whys and ways of this hobby. Books do give valuable information but experience is the best teacher. Steering them away from purchasing fish/invertebrates that are difficult or impossible to keep is one facet. The information alone that is available on the WWM should attest to anyone of our goals, along with our personal replies to their queries. James (Salty Dog)

Further Discussion Re: PETA Discussions on WWM - Do We, or Don't We? 10/14/05 I agree with Sabrina. and think we as a group must be very careful here. While we don't like PETA's message as it comes across, we also do not want PETA's wrath upon WWM. We have absolutely no idea who reads WWM and while its not a business with a location for PETA to boycott etc, I think they could make even our internet existence uncomfortable if the sponsors pulled their ads due to PETA's interference. I think regardless this discussion should be left out of the FAQ's and off WWM. People are polarized by discussions like this and this one is a very sore spot after all the PetSmart and PetCo troubles. I also think that for the readers who do come to WWM that they are smart enough to figure out that PETA's message, as most political stance messages are, is from one side and not a balanced issue paper or anything. Please do not get me wrong. I would love to throw red paint on a PETA demonstrator any day that they protest a good and decent pet store, though I do think even though they may be rabid, they do help keep the industry on its toes and at least somewhat better since they have become the bogeymen of our world. <<Justin, While I understand the concerns, when there is talk of "keeping our mouths shut" altogether, just to avoid their attentions, well that just gets my hackles up! You are talking about freely choosing to squelch our RIGHT to free speech here. What you're talking about would mean that we would kow-tow to this entity, thereby ascribing them too much power. On one hand, sure we can worry about advertisers pulling their ads, but it's not as though they can advertise in a whole lot of places. Remember, our advertisers are part of the industry PETA wants to destroy entirely (this is so reminding me of the Reagan years' Moral Majority, and currently, the Extreme Right's moves to take over our judiciary - anyone ever hear of Justice Sunday?) Discussion on privately owned and operated sites cannot, should not, be curtailed simply for fear of these people. Instead, my own stance is that for this very reason we are obligated to discuss this! We moderates stand mute far too often, and for that we should (collectively) be ashamed. When it comes to posting these discussions in a publicly viewable forum or site, I feel we should, we must, or we become weaker and allow them to become more powerful, without lifting a finger. Does that set right with you? I believe that the mindset of "Don't say anything to aggravate them" goes right along with "Why should I vote? My vote doesn't matter", and that just gets my hackles up as well. I personally believe that they have done much to purposely mislead (especially after doing more research on this wealthy organization) the general public AND their own members. They will misconstrue, twist, and contort facts until they fit their agenda. The more people speak up and speak out about this, the more others will be educated to the FACT that PETA does nothing to actually improve the lives of animals. PETA does quite a bit to ruin peoples' lives. They use this (animals' rights) avenue only as a means by which to direct their ire with the world. "Four Legs Good! Two Legs Bad!" I have no desire to "throw red paint" on anyone. Using their tactics does not make me a better person, nor could it ever make me equal in any other way than to bring me down to that sort of "terrorist" level. I DO desire OPEN debate and discussion - part and parcel of how our government and society operate. Give "Carnage and Culture" (by Victor Davis Hanson - I am currently on the Cortez campaign, battle at Tenochtitlan, 1520) a read, and you will quickly learn just how deeply ingrained this mindset is to our culture. There is no question in my own mind that this MUST be discussed, openly, with NO fear of reprisal, or we make ourselves victims. That is completely anathema to how I have lived my life. I would wager that the same might be true of many, if not most, of our crew. Sincerely, Marina P.S. In the meantime, I am off to adopt a pound puppy - one that PETA may very well have killed had they gotten a hold of her.>>

More Discourse Between Justin and Marina Re: PETA and Posting Discussion on WWM 10/14/05 Marina while I think your argument is a sound one I believe you take me for something I definitely am not and while I do not think you meant anything to be personally affronting, it does seem caustic.... I do think a very basic explanation of WHY I think and why I wrote the response should help you see why. <<I don't understand why you think that. I can only take you at "face" value, based upon what I read of your writings. If my response seemed caustic, I apologize, it was never meant to be caustic. It *was* (and still is) meant to be quite emphatic, however.>> I have absolutely nothing against free speech nor any other right to be practiced openly. I do believe there is a line that one crosses where personal expression of freedom while correct simply adds fuel to a fire that does not need any gasoline thrown on it. and also when personal freedoms lump in individuals whom do not agree or do not want their opinion known to be lumped in with everyone else. <<I'm sorry, you didn't want any of your responses posted? If that was the case, then simply saying so would have done the trick.>> I Highly value the opinions of anyone I talk to even the PETA members who are so rabidly anti pet stores, simply because its their belief, whether I agree or disagree is my personal choice. But You seem to advocate turning WWM from a non biased and simply a collection of the best and brightest that the aquarist minds can assemble, and rather than continue to display FAQ's on the site, spend time filing our personal opinions on PETA and giving them out for anyone to read. <<Alright, you seem to be under the impression that somehow I believe I "run" WWM. FYI - Bob takes many of these discourses and forwards them to the crew email, then places them in the "sent" folder. This means that HE wants it put up into the FAQs. If I ever have any questions regarding any correspondences, I talk directly to him about it. It was his decision to place these discussions in the FAQs, it was mine to bring the discussion up to the crew via this avenue (our private emails). Anthony is always included in the correspondences I send out, so if he cares to offer up an opinion on *anything*, he has that opportunity. What say you now? I must admit, I resent what you're implying, as a LOT of work goes into putting up the FAQs. I don't look for more work than I already have (unless I find things that I think may need further work/correction, etc.). And, I absolutely would NOT use Bob's bandwidth without his blessings.>> I think that as a group, and one whose different backgrounds allow us to approach each question as best we can does so much more to advocate our position than any bullhorn ever could or any number of posts can. <<When it comes to this issue, how can you be so sure of this?>> That alone is a statement against PETA as it shows that we as responsible individuals are willing to sacrifice our time and energies to help keep fish healthy and in the best homes they can have. WWM though is not a place to force our personal opinions out on. <<You have to be joking. You really think that *I* am trying to use the site as my personal pulpit?>> Here is the reason why. I believe PETA is the worst organization out there, and Id rather not see them continue to lie and lead people on at least nationally about who they are, BUT that may not be Bob's nor Anthony's opinion and since WWM is a group who shows a single face and entity to the public and who is built upon working as a unit I find it morally reprehensible to assume that any one shares my opinion without asking them first. <<What? Who said anything about assuming anyone shares opinions? This is about education, Justin. This is about knowledge, and WWM is about disseminating good, accurate knowledge and information. It is not just about how to keep fish, it is also about the issues that affect this industry.>> Also I have noticed that less questions on fish will be answered as our inboxes will fill with pro and anti PETA information which is not only irrelevant, its damaging to our goal and helps PETA as we spend more time bashing them and less time answering emails from those who need our help for all things related to fish and care. <<Since this discussion began, I have seen all of ONE, count 'em - ONE response from a reader regarding PETA. And all he did was give us a link. Don't you think that the people who are reading this site might want to know what's going on? Did you object when I posted the correspondences and news releases from my mother regarding farm-raised salmon?>> I personally have no problem stating my opinion about anything and I applaud anyone who can stand on their principles as well, but I think bringing WWM to bear against PETA is the equivalent of throwing paint at a protest against them in your mind. We stoop to their level and resort to pointing a finger at what they have admitted and couldn't care less about since it doesn't stop their funding? <<I am at a loss, here. I never thought my words could be so misconstrued. It seems that you believe I am on some personal campaign against PETA. I'd like to try to understand how and why you arrived at that opinion, I'd thought that based upon what I've actually written one could surmise that I am/was quite surprised to learn what I have, and I thought it bore discussion, open discussion.>> that seems to get us nowhere. PETA has openly admitted killing animals and even though they can afford no kill shelters it easier they said to dispose of the unwanted animals. did that hurt their bottom line one iota... not in the slightest. <<I have never heard a public admission from PETA, and I have only very recently (thank you, reader) learned of the large number of animals they kill instead of adopting out. You really believe that if the general public that supports PETA had a clue that they would continue to support this organization?>> WWM is regarded for our unbiased opinions and our hard factual information that we coalesce from years of our own experiences and our highly lauded trials and tests from years of keeping and battling the things fish have and come down with. <<Ok, do you realize what you just said? Opinion and unbiased can't really be used in the same sentence. An opinion is, by definition, quite biased. And guess what. We all have them! (Hopefully we all have belly buttons, too.) We do indeed provide factual information, but when it comes to the art of fishkeeping, well, that is where opinion comes in.>> To sink down and use WWM to fight a losing battle against a group who thrives on controversy only makes us seem to be the bad guys and WE lose the most because we cannot ever be unbiased as a group ever again. <<Again, completely misconstrued in my opinion. How are we any more the bad guys for discussing this issue than for discussing any other (such as how best to euthanize animals in our care, for instance)? There are plenty of other sites that are dedicated to fighting PETA. Maybe we should research what's happening to them. However, I don't believe that's really necessary - WWM will always be a site dedicated to the betterment of the fishkeeping hobby, promoting sustainable sources for fish, invertebrates, etc., and for keeping hobbyists up to date on the current state of the hobby. I fail to see how this discussion takes anything away from that.>> That loss is more damaging than any loss we may have from not tackling PETA as a group. If you would like to speak out against PETA tell me a time and place and Ill gladly bring myself there and add another line to my FBI file, and make another analyst scared that as a registered gun salesperson who can run background checks is also anti PETA. <<WHAT?!? What on earth do guns have to do with this???>> but to hold it under the WWM name only makes it a joke. If we cant trust people who we know are so callus toward political opinions anyway to see PETA's message for what it is, a political issue paper and nothing else, we have lost touch with what people are these days. <<I really wish I could grasp what you're trying to say here.>> People hate our opinio0ns sometimes as it is and many a disgruntled person has written several times and even cursed us for being asses, I cant imagine any other mixed response to anything else. People come to us for help with fish, lets not lose people valuable information and the chance to truly make a difference where it counts by actually saving fish, because if we reform the mythologies surrounding fish keeping and truly bring about a change as we are slowly doing, Then PETA loses its weaponry and we never fired a shot toward them. They cant argue for no fish industry if the fish industry is at a standard where people laugh at complaints because they know they are not true. <<Of course they can, and they will. Part of the reason why this is important to me is because in their message, there is no room for human beings. Have you ever seen the poverty of a third world nation? Ever see up close and personal any of the islands of Indonesia? Do you have any idea what these people go through, how they risk their lives to provide us with pretty fish for our pretty boxes of water, and for the Hong Kong live fish market? How about the folks who inject the "painted" fish for us? Remember, these people do this to make a living, too. There is, ultimately, a whole lot more to the message than first meets the eye. In my world there's room for people, in PETA's there isn't. Sure, saving fish is great, but paying attention to the issue as a whole is even more responsible, in my honest opinion.>> Personally I believe in the right to vote and exercise it vigorously and am offended that anyone would take my words as a call to sit on our collective asses and do nothing at all. <<That's not what I said. I would appreciate it if you re-read my response.>> I advocate doing it productively. <<Prompting intelligent discussion is not productive?>> If Anyone wants a polarizing issue to run with there is no first amendment without the second amendment. Take the guns and you lose the ability to criticize. Take the guns and governments become unaccountable to the people. and as a gun owner I firmly believe in individuals right to own firearms if responsible individual safety is used and some decent common sense. I don't need a government telling me to keep my guns away from kids its simple knowledge that kids don't understand them without parental supervision on a range and being taught basic safety much as teaching basic fish care. <<While I believe that we should retain the right to own guns, I don't see where that belongs in our discussion. What I, personally, believe is more pertinent to what you bring up is that we pay attention to the manipulation of our judiciary by extreme factions, again, another discussion not at all suitable to WWM.>> But lets do what we do best and leave the derisive out of the site. It only takes up the space that could be used for such a higher purpose that actually will accomplish something besides eating more bandwidth and disk space. <<Tell you what - why don't you bring this up directly with Bob, see what he has to say about this? He wants these discussions put up, so I do that. I asked about putting up Mike G's article (with a small bit of editing for space and readability), and he said, "Make it so." If we're worried about bandwidth, let's provide another server or two, or some cash for it. Clearly, our positions are 180 degrees apart regarding open discussion of this issue being placed onto WWM. However, I answer to Bob, and when any other questions arise I refer and defer to him. My intentions were *never* to spur contention between us - they were/are to spur discussion, debate, and to disseminate knowledge. Marina>>

Anthony Gives His Opinion "Anthony is always included in the correspondences I send out, so if he cares to offer up an opinion on *anything*, he has that opportunity." Commenting on this point, above... let me ask that my silence not (ever) be taken as consent on any issue... or that I've even read the e-mail. It is presumptive and inaccurate. Like most of friends here at WWM... it is a struggle for me to keep up with various daily mail/necessary work, etc. Furthermore, and FWIW, my absence from WWM almost wholly for many months now makes my opinion "less" valuable (OK... IMO) than any active crew member re: WWM group decisions. :p I frankly feel the energy spent on discussing this PETA issue would be much better spent in other ways. Even if simply on another constructive dialogue like 'Best "reef" lighting'?... where exactly are those missing socks?... how MAC will save the world, etc. Anthony

Marina Responds w/Input from Bob Anthony, I would like to respond to this. Unfortunately, whether one means to or not, silence does very often imply acceptance. Yes, this is absolutely presumptive, and I, personally would not make the assumption of acceptance or lack simply based on response or lack of from you. However, the most I can/will do is include you in the correspondences. This does indeed allow you an opportunity to offer up your opinions - whether you take that opportunity or not is entirely up to you. Also, I think you should know that your opinion is among the most valued in many circles. Participation, or lack thereof, does not diminish this value. Reef lighting is always going to be an ongoing discussion, even for the simple reason that someone may not have used the site to its fullest in their own research, which of course prompts questions. If Bob and you decide that these discussions have no place on WWM, then just let me know and I will remove them or not post altogether. Simple as that. MAC is another very pertinent issue, and one that in my mind goes along almost the exact same lines as PETA - even though their goals are different. <Mmm, no... not IMO... both "fringe" associations principally interested in "making noise", generating revenue, making some phony name for themselves... both have been largely ineffectual, but larger than they're worth in the public eye... "In the world there are makers, takers, and fakers"... both groups are not makers> Check the dailies, I don't think this discussion has taken away one iota from WWM as a whole, as a service offered up freely. This is, of course, my own biased opinion. Others may certainly disagree, and the neat thing is that it's still a discussion. Just because people disagree does not necessarily mean that they are fundamentally at odds with each other, it simply means that they disagree. Marina <The "news" is pet-fish related... of interest, discussion. BobF>

Steve Allen's Take Marina: Your points below are part of the overwhelming evidence that PETA is actually a cult. If you study the definition of cults, you will see that PETA fits the bill on every count. They even have prophets (Ingrid Newkirk, Peter Singer) with doctrines (e.g. "a rat is a dog is a pig is a boy," a "human baby is not a person, but an adult chimp is," etc.). There is absolutely zero flexibility in any of their positions. There can be no more reasoning with them than there can be with Tom Cruise . The shame of it is that there is a core of truth to what both are saying (animals should be treated kindly, too many people are being medicated without really being helped, etc) but their stridency and exaggerations undermine real progress on such issues. It is sheer fantasy on PETA's part to think that they can convert even a meaningful minority of Americans to veganism and it is sheer fantasy on Scientology's part to think that they can rid the U.S. of psychiatry. I have read a lot about PETA and have read some of the writings of Singer and Newkirk (she's the founder). Very odd ideas IMO. It's a shame, because so much good could be done for animals if reasonable people focus on achievable ends through proper means. It's a lot like that anti-war rally in DC a couple of weeks ago--the reasonable criticisms that could actually accomplish something are drowned out by the ranting of anarchists and nuts who support Kim Jong Il. The war advocates (an animal abusers) can then lump the reasonable critics in with the nuts and derail any efforts for reform. There are many fascists in the modern world: Islamo-fascists, Christo-fascists, PETA-fascists, etc. Steve

PufferPunk Takes Action Ok Folks, I will not be re-upping my membership to PETA. I am learning a lot about what is really going on with them. To take the heat off WWM, I have posted PETA's letter on about 20 other aquarium websites, so write & post whatever you wish at WWM. ~Jeni/PP

No Rest for the Weary Uhm. To coin a phrase, "Can't we all just get along?" If not with PETA, then at least with each other and ourselves? -Sabrina-the-sleepless

Re: RFG final design draft is READY! RMF tosses exasperated wrench in 9/27/05 There is already another "somewhat"-similar card to the RFG ( I say somewhat because its conceptually similar) , however, on a much smaller scale. The Pittsburgh aquarium has released the F.I.S.H. guide (Fish ill-suited for home aquariums). Its looks primarily at the fish which are brought to public aquariums after they outgrow home tanks. The card focuses on Large fish (both fresh/salt) e.g.., Pacu, groupers, etc and carnivores e.g. snakeheads, Blacktip sharks about 20 fish in total. The card is a tri-fold and has a goal of trying to convince hobbyists to not buy these fish due to extreme size or feeding requirements. I have no clue about its distribution, but it is a great first start frank <Outstanding! Saluds, BobF>

Something to be ashamed of 7/5/05 Hi, <Hello Sean> Firstly, I would like to say that I love this site, and find it immensely useful in educating me in the needs of my oceanic pets. <Thank you>This is not really a question but more something I noticed. It is with great distress and disgust, that while browsing a website called monsterfishkeepers.com, I came across a member's gallery of a member called HilJack41. While browsing this gallery I found a picture of said member posing with a dead Hammerhead shark, to say I was distressed was an understatement. Given the current situation with ever decreasing shark populations, this kind of behaviour from a supposedly responsible site is outrageous. I am usually more of a reader than a contributor but this time I had to say something. I believe that it is has always been my duty to become educated and care for the fish in my care to the best of my ability and protect those in the ocean. Sorry to be a bit preachy but I firmly believe education is the way forward to stop this kind of behaviour and I believe you guys are instrumental in educating me and the countless others in this fantastic past time of ours. Anyway, keep up the good work and I look forward to my trip to Washington and MACNA. <Thank you for your note. Unfortunately, as long as the government allows shark fishing, not much can be done about it. I guess it is no different that someone posing with a dead deer hanging from a limb. I enjoy watching deer and am not a hunter so something like this bothers me somewhat the same as your case. James (Salty Dog)> Thanks again Thanking you in advance, Sean

Re: Thanks for the book and can you help Bob I think Darrell should try approaching the Agri[cultural] and Veterinary Authority in Singapore to find out what kind of assistance he can obtain if he wants to set up a breeding station for marines. They have some sort of research station on Saint John's island and recently they have helped a local farm breed seahorses for the export market. Perry <Thank you for this Perry. Oh, hope to see you at least in Sing. during Aquarama... and after if you can make it... over to N.E. Sulawesi... Will cc Jason, Di here for adding you to the heads-up list on the itinerary. BobF>

Ecosystem and Biodiversity Conservation in Indo-Pacific, a likely school paper Dear WWM crews, Firstly, many thanks for all of your information and helpful mails, previously. I've just planning to moving from now on, and possibly a new look on my saltwater aquarium. Anyway, I'm writing a paper as a school homework. Titled 'Ecosystem and Biodiversity Conservation in Indo-Pacific', I would like to have an interview with you, discussing exclusively on this topic, and also related to aquarium business. Here's my questions : a. What is your general opinion about the damage caused by humans in our marine ecosystems (all oceans) ? <At local levels, sometimes quite destructive... compared to natural predators, disasters, minimal> b. Do you think it is possible to 'replant' corals into their natural habitat, to fully form a completely natural, functioning, healthy ecosystem? <No... many well-meaning people, folks who want to live on OPM like to present this as a viable option... Ridiculous notion> c. Do you know possible ways to prevent cyanide-fishing and bombings for aquarium stock ? <Yes... have presented many talks, articles, book sections on the topic. See CMA re... or WetWebMedia.com re Cyanide Use... Sources of Mortality on the World's Reefs> d. Do you know the most efficient ways to circulate the aquarium trade without disturbing the ocean ? <Is as it is now... depending on whose (my) definition of terms, esp. "efficient"... the stocks that are best wild-collected are done so... to the benefit of local and non-local agencies, folks...> e. Can we build fish and coral farms to re-stock both nature and aquarium needs in a sustainable way ? <Not nature... should be left alone, the non-scientific folk who are leading such efforts, the ignorant people supporting same or being robbed to do so informed, their mis-placed efforts and funds redirected. Aquarium livestock can be easily produced in captivity... just a matter of market forces, education> f. What do you think about marine ecosystems in Indo-Pacific ? are they healthy enough ? <Enough.... overall, sort of... regionally, some localities I've been to, am aware of... definitely not... Much to be done in producing sewage treatment, stopping soil erosion, effecting sustainable fisheries...> I hope WWM supports for conservation - and I would be very grateful and highly appreciate your help. <I do support conservation. In particular I am set against the further wanton reproduction of our species... THE root cause of environmental destruction... AND education of the present population... LESS government, MORE science, technology. Bob Fenner> Thanks Yours Sincerely, Anargha

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