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Report about MAC activities in the Philippines Dear all, Attached you'll find a copy of the letter that I sent to Mr. Paul Holthus. Copies are sent to different organisations such as Swiss Animal Protection, WWF, Swiss Pet Shop Association, and to the Swiss government and theEuropean government. If you want to know more, please feel free to contact me (contact address in the letter). Josef Steiger
KFI GmbH Josef Steiger Ergolzstrasse 20 4414 Fuellinsdorf Switzerland
Tel. +41-61-903 12 12 Mobile: +41-76-377 12 12 Fax: +41-61-903 12 14 Email: email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
MR. PAUL HOLTHUS Executive Director Marine Aquarium Council 923 Nu'uanu Avenue Honolulu, HI 96817 USA
January 07. 2003
The Swiss government as well as private organizations and individuals in my country have been looking for ways to be assured that the fish imported from the Indo-Pacific areas are caught without the use of chemicals that negatively affects the marine environment. We feel that if we continue to buy these animals without making sure of how they are being caught, we might be unwittingly supporting the destruction of marine habitats and the exploitation of poor fishermen. We have looked into ways of trying to help contribute to conserving and preserving the environmental condition of the collection sites, but we are pragmatic enough to realize that we do not have any direct control over how the animals are being extracted. We hope we can be of help in attaining what the entire world wants when it comes to environmental concerns.
As you well know my very frequent travels into the Indo-Pacific have brought me into close contact with exporters of these countries and more importantly, the divers/collectors in this industry. I was fortunate enough to have gone diving with a lot of collectors and conservationists who have been working in this field for many years now. Having experienced these things, l look at myself more than capable of understanding the intricate problems hounding this industry.
As you see I have always been one of the many individuals in my country who really wanted to support the plan of a certification for net caught fish that are collected and handled properly without the use of chemicals. Your presentation in Bern last May made organizations like the Swiss Animal Protection, Swiss Pet Shop Association and individuals like myself interested in supporting your idea. We even made plans to implement the certification for importers and retailers of marine fish and invertebrates in Switzerland, but my trip last November to the Philippines gave me a chance to see what was going on with regards to MAC's certification and skills upgrading. What I saw happening made me change my mind. I reported this to my organization and to the concerned agencies of my Government as statement below. I am giving you a copy as well to let you know what my concerns are. I am so sorry that with all I that have seen, I cannot support MAC anymore nor will my organization.
It is very clear to me that all the involved organizations, group of exporters and maybe most of the importers in the United States and Europe are not honest in really wanting to have clean fish in the market. They only want to use MAC to officially whitewash the problems caused by the marine ornamental fish Industry.
Here are the points that I have to state:
I also would like to point out that I called and talked to your MAC country coordinator requesting for a meeting to hear the side of MAC on several issues. He told me that he would return my call or go to my hotel the next day. He never called or showed up until I left the Philippines. Such behavior only shows something is really wrong. I find it inexcusable that your representative avoids returning a call or does not make the visit that we had agreed on especially when there are important things to take up.
Other than being in the aquarium fish business, I run the travel agency Asia Adventures which is specialized in Scuba diving and Cultural tours to Southeast Asia. Beside these activities, I'm an active member of the Swiss Pet Shop Association and a board member of IWMC-CH (International Wildlife Management Consortium, Switzerland), and I also support and work together with the Swiss Animal Protection. My target is for a lasting nature protection program, especially for the conservation of the endangered coral reefs.
Re: resignation of Ferdie Cruz...head MAC trainer Bob, 'NEWSFLASH' You need to read the resignation from MAC of Ferdie Cruz, their head trainer. I don't have it yet but Mary does. I've asked her for a forward and perhaps you could get one as well. Dr Rubec sent it to her. Ferdie just confirmed the last couple of years suspicions about MAC style monkey business on all fronts and wants out. I'm sure it would look good in your archives. <Sigh... yes> As the original fellowship of the MAC collapses, their best supporters are the ones who are enamored with the concept from afar...non players who think the mission statement is good, that they're innocent and that we should all "just give em a chance". <Wish I could feel, call out a "yay" re this unfolding... can't, don't... what a shame, sham...> AMDA voting is over....we need a drum roll. <Steve, are you still running? Hoping to get much done through, with? Bob Fenner> Steve MAC as the world turns Bob, I'm quite sure that I am indeed the new Dark Lord of AMDA or the bearer of the Ring, or the first future AMDA president to be impeached. Ideas? <This will/would take a while. Really... considering it's you leading, for you to press your ideas forward, build the membership (it's all up and up from here!), consensus... gather some folks about you who can, will work towards the "ends" of the MAC w/o their b.s., stalling, taxing the trade> You can be the new minister of "silly walks" or ...I know, the new representative to MAC. Yes, I like that one best! <Ha!> Steve PS. How can AMDA BE USEFUL? I'd love input on that from you. <Prepare for the outfall from revelations, fall of the phony MAC... and resurrect their momentum for good for the world (including the trade, hobby, sciences...). Can you find a place for Peter Rubec? Bob Fenner>
Collection!! Dear All, Chip has pointed out to me that many readers of this discussion may think that I am implying that IMA has a connection with regards to opening the door to collection of any sort in PNG. For the record, to the best of my understanding they are not part of this practice. I was simply pointing out that there slides were being used during a presentation of net collection at the research facility. No member from IMA was part of this meeting in PNG during Aug 2000. IMA is a cutting edge organization trying to combat destructive fishing methods while teaching indigenous peoples a safer way to collect fishes. They have brought fourth a technology that tests for CN and hope that other groups fight to help them implement CN testing facilities throughout the tropical nations importing reef fishes. Is TNC spending donators monies getting such technologies implemented? People should know where there donations are going and what environmental groups like TNC and WWF are doing with there funds. My college students donated monies to TNC and WWF for rainforest protection, when they ask what are they spending monies on when it comes to reefs, I had no answer. They are supposed to stand for conservation and PROTECTION. "Checks and balances", we have the right to be vocal and point out discrepancies and "Greenwashing" when noticed. Lets face it reefs are stressed beyond their limits. We are witnessing a turning point in reef ecology and (rapid) evolutionary change in reef structure and its inhabitants. As a coral physiologist I am seeing a decline, however, I am unable to predict what the new reef structure and community will look like. All I do know is that reefs are extremely sensitive to biotic and a-biotic stresses. We are seeing stress visually and under the microscope and myself as a scientist cannot understand how such practices are still occurring "given the state of the worlds reefs" . Hopefully we can all agree that CN testing facilities are needed yesterday, not in the near future and farming only collection of corals and fishes. Can anyone tell us why the donations cannot be used to fund this type of projects? Why is there not pressure on the MAC to enforce farming only and spend funds on CN testing facilities? I think Walt Smith is trying to culture farmed corals, and I saw these corals at a MAC conference. They looked wonderful, however he told me that they were not selling. I was shocked and he told me that buyers of corals and fishes want "bigger, wild caught corals" therefore what happens, since wild caught corals (lets remember the fishes habitat) are available, his cultured corals sit in tanks and are not sold. Therefore where is the motivation to go to farming unless a ban is implemented on coral and fish imports? The thirst for corals and reef fishes will continue, however we must inform the LRFFT and the MAC that what is available is farmed reef fishes (aquaculture on the reef?? or indoors??). Please tell us why this cannot work? <Economic contingencies... it's more profitable to extract than culture (at least for most species, for now). Bans won't work to save any appreciable part of the environment that humans now use... if not the ornamental aquatics industry, more destructive uses will replace them. Historically this has been the rule. Bob Fenner> James M. Cervino Collection!! Hi James: Walt Smith probably had corals for sale at a MACNA conference - I am unaware of vendors or even the occurrence of a MAC conference. I know the acronyms all get confusing after a while. ;) What Walt says is true to some extent, except that very few places actually offer Walt's maricultured colonies in the scheme of things. I can get Walt's wild colonies from at least two dozen places I can name off the top of my head, but from only one or two places can I think to get the maricultured colonies. And, of those two, one of them sells them all within hours of them arriving. Sometimes, upon getting an email announcement, I can't even log on to the site and order them fast enough before they are sold. Also, Walt's maricultured colonies are considerably more expensive than comparable fragments or aquacultured or maricultured colonies from other sources. For the species he is offering, most people are able to obtain fragments from other aquarist's tanks, from aquarists selling fragments back to their local stores, from local or regional aquaculture sources (see www.farmedcoral.com for a list of sited that are formally involved in offering propagated corals), etc. easier and cheaper than Walt's maricultured colonies. So, its not really fair to blame the trade for not supporting his ventures. They do...Walt Smith gets a LOT of support from the hobby and the trade, and although he may like his sales of maricultured specimens to be higher, I think there are more factors involved than a lack of support of his operation and efforts. I produced a paper in Bulletin of Marine Science on the state of propagated marine organisms, including listings of species available of stony corals, soft corals, corallimorpharians, zoanthids, algae, fishes, and other invertebrates. (Borneman EH, Lowrie J. 2001. Bull Mar Sci 69(2): 897-913). Best, Eric Borneman
Re: Collection!! Dear All: I wish to set the record straight concerning Mr. Cervino's comment below, that implies that IMA conducted net training for aquarium fishers in Kimbe Bay in PNG. This is not the case. IMA has never conducted any net training activities at Kimbe Bay, or anywhere else in PNG for that matter.
Re: Collection!! Dear all, Before reading this I want to say that we want to work with local groups to help them sustain a healthy reef ecosystem as well as providing funds for their families to live, however, we refuse to listen to talks of exploiting reefs for money given the current status of the worlds reefs. Time is running out as aggressive action is needed. Paul please understand that we care only about the peoples in the local villages and that we want to help protect and preserve these last remaining healthy reefs like Kimbe Bay. Paule wrote : Since your last email I have been able to read the thread of the debate and the context that your comments on TNC related to, and have realized that the Kimbe Bay/TNC issue is peripheral to the arguments. As such I will only briefly state TNC's position and what we have been doing in Kimbe Bay and more broadly in PNG. If any reader wishes to find out more they are welcome to contact me directly so as to minimize broadcast emails. Firstly, in Kimbe Bay we have been working very closely with the communities, local government, Walindi Plantation Resort and a number of other partners to protect and manage the marine biodiversity of Kimbe Bay. James: To enhance bio-diversity you need protection and no exploitation ! Am I to believe that TNC is not taking aggressive action towards protection? Is TNC standing by this method of collecting from reefs that are faced with effects of climate change and localized pollution ? If so how will they manage reefs that are effected once a particular reef experiences a localized temperature "hot spot" triggered by global warming? Once a reef experiences a decline in coral species due to a bleaching event will they still allow collection of fishes? If farming were in place this may help continue re-stocking lost corals in the local areas and continue their trade for the restaurant trade. I know I keep speaking of the corals, however one must understand that an organization such as TNC must deal with the habitat and protection of that habitat as without the habitat there are no fishes for the LRFFT trade. Paule wrote: At no time has TNC ever proposed to establish either an aquarium trade (fish and/or corals) or a live reef food fish trade in Kimbe Bay. TNC has never taught IMA's (or anyone else's) aquarium fish net training at any of our Pacific sites -- even if we felt it necessary to, we do not have any staff capable of doing so. James : I personally viewed a slide presentation of slides showing IMA Net Collection at the research facility in Walindi. The slides were had an ID with IMA logo or name on it. I do not object to showing the images that is an issue that should be addressed by IMA. My concerns were that of teaching the collection instead of preservation or farming of fishes. I have talked to witnesses of this presentation and teaching method. Again I am not accusing any one of showing or teaching the method in real time as I was not a witness to this, I am saying that a presentation of IMA slides was shown to the villagers teaching them how to capture safely. While I was showing them chemical tests of the effects of Durris root on the corals. As a researcher of GCRA I was preaching and teaching the effects of harmful fishing methods and "reef preservation" ...not exploitation for monies....for LRFFT or the aquarium trade. Paul wrote: I strongly believe that all our conservation activities in Kimbe Bay would stand up to any close scrutiny, and that we have made, and continue to make very positive progress towards protecting the marine biodiversity of Kimbe Bay. TNC in PNG (actually in our whole Pacific Island Countries Program) has not been involved with addressing the aquarium fish trade as we believe there are other groups who are better able than us to work on the issue, e.g. IMA, MAC, Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC). There are no aquarium fish businesses operating in PNG, and the National Fisheries Authority (NFA) has no intention at this time to license any. James: You claimed that this was going to happen and that you may not have the power to stop it. Therefore teaching them other methods may be better, and I understand that alt. methods are better than blast and CN use. However, preservation is the only answer to higher biodiversity....not collection and exploitation. Paul: We have, however, been very much involved with addressing the challenges facing the Pacific from the live reef food fish trade (LRFFT), and have been working on this issue at least since 1995. In the Pacific region we have been working in partnership (through an MOU) with SPC, IMA and WRI to make the region's governments aware of the threats posed by the LRFFT and how to control or manage the trade. Considerable progress has been made through these collaborative efforts. James: Given the state of the worlds reef, this trade cannot be managed unless we teach farming. I see no progress, as there is STILL no CN testing facilities in the Pacific or the direction of farming. I still witness blast fishing at an alarming rate as well as an INCREASE use of CN and Durris root. If you want further information on these activities please contact either SPC or Andrew Smith (email@example.com). James: If they want to discuss CN testing facilities, reef development and farming with the help of GCRA we would be more than glad to work with the local communities to help them sustain there own bio-diversity. In PNG we have been working with the National Fisheries Authority on the LRFFT since 1996, and we currently work with NFA through an MOU which explicitly sets out our respective roles and responsibilities. In the time we have been working with NFA, we have been able to raise the importance of addressing LRFFT in PNG, and we were instrumental in having the NFA Board impose a moratorium on the LRFFT in PNG (which is still in place). With considerable and continuous pressure from fishing companies, politicians and also communities to establish the LRFFT in PNG we have assisted NFA with drafting their management plan for this fishery. James: Management plan?? The trade is out of control and reef as we speak are being doused with CN and blasted with explosives. How can one propose to manage a reef that is already effected by climate change or local stresses of pollution? They have applied the precautionary approach to managing this fishery, and before opening the fishery they wanted to run two trials. TNC assisted NFA in undertaking assessments of target species at the two trial sites, and based on the results one trial site was closed. We are currently working with NFA and other PNG partners to develop management and conservation strategies to protect reef fish spawning aggregation sites. James: are they dealing with localized pollution due to palm oil plantation? as well as sewage pollution and waste water management? I hope this brief summery of our past and present activities relating to Kimbe Bay and the live reef fish trade in PNG addresses your concerns. If you or anyone would like to know more about these activities and our other conservation work in PNG please let me know. In closing, I would like to reiterate Rod Salm's earlier comments: 'Being too polarized in favor of blanket protection might be our inclination, but is not often an option, or even desirable, and so could be our downfall. I do, however, strongly believe that we in the conservation community have to work together and among ourselves try different approaches where there are no proven examples of success. James: We don't have time.......see today's front page of the NY Times. The reefs face severe destruction in the next decade, and we should not be discussing exploitation ....we should be discussing PROTECTION. Success can be measured with action and results. Implementing CN testing facilities and farming will provide the tropical island businesses and local communities with a long term sustainable ecosystem. Its time to take aggressive action and the talk of taking corals and fishes (out side of farming) is immoral. Paul: Eventually and collectively we will develop workable and enduring solutions (whatever those are). In the meantime, we feel pressured to provide answers too quickly, when in fact we haven't even figured out what the correct questions are to ask. James: The solution is farming and CN testing facilities along with funding enforcement to protect the reefs from poachers. Paul...I know you are working hard, however maybe it is time to take a firm stance and act with drastic change. In the long run the local communities and reefs will benefit. Please let me know how the GCRA can help reach the goals of reef development, protection and farming for the trade. Sincerely, James Cervino ************************************ James M. Cervino PhD. Program Marine Science Dept. University of South Carolina e-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org
RE: IMA's position on MAC re email of Peter Rubec Dear Paul, James, Rod, and Shannon, et al., Thanks for these detailed explanations. I am glad to see these issues being openly and reasonably discussed. I'd just like to add a few points. I now work extensively on coral reef and fisheries restoration in Indonesia, and have worked in the past in the Philippines filming cyanide fishermen and IMA's efforts to develop alternatives, and have even been personally bombed in Sulawesi, so I'm very aware that almost every reef in these countries is practically destroyed and being stripped bare of fish that can be marketed abroad. Every fisherman in Indonesia seems to be trying to get into the cyanide aquarium fishing trade as it is more lucrative than fishing for food. But it can't possibly last long, and has caused one of the greatest, but least known, environmental disasters of our time. With this background you can see why Papua New Guinea seemed such a paradise to me in comparison. I am very afraid that once the thin end of the wedge of commercial exports enters, like the snake with the apple in Eden, we will be on the start of a slippery slope that will lead to destroying the fish, the reefs, and in the end, the very food supply for the coastal people of PNG. The commercial operators all know that the Philippines and Indonesia are practically stripped bare and have only a very short future, and they are looking to PNG as the last frontier. It will be very hard at best, impossible in probability, to control the greed that will be unleashed. A few lucky people in PNG may get rich, but the country as a whole will wind up poorer. So this is not about keeping people from enjoying the benefits of globalism but in being realistic about their common long term interests. Controlling greed is almost impossible for most of us, and only works where there is a very strong social consensus against it, which is exceedingly rare in any culture. For example I know only one country in the Caribbean that does a good job, and it is the only one that has increasing stocks of the lobster and conch that are being driven to extinction everywhere else. How and why they do it is a very unusual story. In the Turks and Caicos islands one whole side of each island is a strict no fishing zone. No spear guns are permitted. Nets are only allowed for hand cast catching of small inshore bait fish for line fishing (the only sustainable fishing technology, for if the fish is not hungry he won't bite, while the other methods are indiscriminate and wind up destroying the stock). Lobster and conch can only be taken by hand, free diving. The fisheries officer explained to me that most divers couldn't go much more than 30 feet, and there was plenty of seagrass in clear water deeper than that with large enough populations to restock shallow waters. Turks and Caicos people can eat conch and lobster every day without depleting their stocks as long as their reefs are healthy and they don't get greedy. Exports are strictly limited, because they know they could lose it all if they try to meet the external demand. Why are Turks and Caicos Islanders so much smarter than the rest of us? The reason is that they have learned from history. The islands were settled by Bermudans, who brought African slaves to mine the salt flats for export. When salt extraction and mining collapsed in the 1600s due to the discovery of the far cheaper rock salt mines in Germany, the Bermudans abandoned their slaves to starve on these desert islands. For 300 years they lived alone from the sea, as their islands were too barren for agriculture. With the recent development of tourism and offshore banking, their economy has boomed, but they know that these could collapse overnight, and once again they would have to live from the sea, so they are determined to always keep their last option open. Would that the rest of us (including the fortunate people of PNG, or the "self-regulators" of MAC) were so wise! Best wishes to all for a New Year in which we rationally protect, restore, and enhance our natural resources in our long term self interest, instead of letting the stupid greedheads and warheads wipe us all out for their fleeting monetary profit or control of political power. Tom Goreau
IMA's position on MAC re email of Peter Rubec Dear James (and others being copied on the recent emails), Since your last email I have been able to read the thread of the debate and the context that your comments on TNC related to, and have realized that the Kimbe Bay/TNC issue is peripheral to the arguments. As such I will only briefly state TNC's position and what we have been doing in Kimbe Bay and more broadly in PNG. If any reader wishes to find out more they are welcome to contact me directly so as to minimize broadcast emails. Firstly, in Kimbe Bay we have been working very closely with the communities, local government, Walindi Plantation Resort and a number of other partners to protect and manage the marine biodiversity of Kimbe Bay. We have facilitated the establishment of Mahonia na Dari Conservation and Research Center, worked with a number of communities to establish the first four community-established and managed marine conservation areas, contracted James Cook University of North Queensland to monitor the community managed marine areas (more than three years of data already available) worked closely with Mahonia on their ground-breaking education and conservation programs, and have contracted a range of scientific studies and surveys on the biodiversity health of Kimbe Bay. Shannon Seeto, who has been a TNC employee since 1997, has been our main staff person responsible for our programs there, however, in my previous position I worked very closely with Shannon on all our activities in Kimbe Bay, and in my current position I supervise Shannon. Our current work plan for Kimbe Bay focuses on establishing a network of both community-managed conservation areas and other marine protected areas, based on the latest science and design criteria for such networks. We are expanding our conservation activities to the whole of Kimbe Bay (rather than just Stetin Bay where Mahonia's activities are currently focused). As Rod Salm noted, to achieve the goal of protecting the marine biodiversity of the Bay we must balance the practical realities of working with local communities who survive by using the resources of the Bay with the idealized no-take situation -- always a challenge that any conservation practitioner faces. At no time has TNC ever proposed to establish either an aquarium trade (fish and/or corals) or a live reef food fish trade in Kimbe Bay. TNC has never taught IMA's (or anyone else's) aquarium fish net training at any of our Pacific sites -- even if we felt it necessary to, we do not have any staff capable of doing so. I strongly believe that all our conservation activities in Kimbe Bay would stand up to any close scrutiny, and that we have made, and continue to make very positive progress towards protecting the marine biodiversity of Kimbe Bay. TNC in PNG (actually in our whole Pacific Island Countries Program) has not been involved with addressing the aquarium fish trade as we believe there are other groups who are better able than us to work on the issue, e.g. IMA, MAC, Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC). There are no aquarium fish businesses operating in PNG, and the National Fisheries Authority (NFA) has no intention at this time to license any. We have, however, been very much involved with addressing the challenges facing the Pacific from the live reef food fish trade (LRFFT), and have been working on this issue at least since 1995. In the Pacific region we have been working in partnership (through an MOU) with SPC, IMA and WRI to make the region's governments aware of the threats posed by the LRFFT and how to control or manage the trade. Considerable progress has been made through these collaborative efforts. If you want further information on these activities please contact either SPC or Andrew Smith (email@example.com). In PNG we have been working with the National Fisheries Authority on the LRFFT since 1996, and we currently work with NFA through an MOU which explicitly sets out our respective roles and responsibilities. In the time we have been working with NFA, we have been able to raise the importance of addressing LRFFT in PNG, and we were instrumental in having the NFA Board impose a moratorium on the LRFFT in PNG (which is still in place). With considerable and continuous pressure from fishing companies, politicians and also communities to establish the LRFFT in PNG we have assisted NFA with drafting their management plan for this fishery. They have applied the precautionary approach to managing this fishery, and before opening the fishery they wanted to run two trials. TNC assisted NFA in undertaking assessments of target species at the two trial sites, and based on the results one trial site was closed. We are currently working with NFA and other PNG partners to develop management and conservation strategies to protect reef fish spawning aggregation sites. I hope this brief summery of our past and present activities relating to Kimbe Bay and the live reef fish trade in PNG addresses your concerns. If you or anyone would like to know more about these activities and our other conservation work in PNG please let me know. In closing, I would like to reiterate Rod Salm's earlier comments: 'Being too polarized in favor of blanket protection might be our inclination, but is not often an option, or even desirable, and so could be our downfall. I do, however, strongly believe that we in the conservation community have to work together and among ourselves try different approaches where there are no proven examples of success. Eventually and collectively we will develop workable and enduring solutions (whatever those are). In the meantime, we feel pressured to provide answers too quickly, when in fact we haven't even figured out what the correct questions are to ask. I am also very aware of and sensitive to the need to recognize that in many areas "it will happen anyway" as you have quoted - that sentiment may be the only reality when exploitation brings in immediate and tangible benefits.' Paul Lokani Melanesia Program Director
Paul Lokani chimes in Dear all, I do not understand this discussion and I do understand any of the so called quotes attributed to me here. Can somebody please put things in perspective for me here?? Looks like some mis-information doing the rounds??. PAUL LOKANI <Sir, I am not party to all of this ongoing discussion, but do believe I've archived all the parts that bear on your mention, here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/WWMAdminSubWebIndex/macattack2.htm Robert (Bob) Fenner>
Re: IMA's position on MAC re email of Peter Rubec (TNC response to Cervino to Peter...) Dear all In the string of emails on the above subject, James M Cervino and Kathryn Winiarski-Cervino mentioned "sources" that implicate The Nature Conservancy with import of corals and fishes from PNG (see excerpt from their message below): "The problem is not only restricted to the Philippines and is MUCH more rampant in the Indo Pacific and Malaysia region. My sources also tell me that TNC along with MAC will oversee a test program for importing fishes and corals from Papua New Guinea. Can this be happening? These groups are supposed to stand for "environmentalism" can these groups live with the fact that they may be opening a door to a region that has not been raped by this trade? " I have four comments: First, this is news to me - so the answer to your first question is "no, this is not happening!". Second, please check you sources and get back with details ASAP to me, Andrew Smith ( firstname.lastname@example.org ), and Paul Lokani ( email@example.com ). Unfortunately I leave tomorrow and will be beyond email accessibility for the next 3 weeks, but Andrew and Paul should be able to verify any statements emanating from your sources. Third, it was The Nature Conservancy that worked with PNG officials to institute a total moratorium on exports of live reef food fish for the restaurant trade. "We can live with this, and don't have to live with "opening the door" is the answer to your second question. Fourth, as The Nature Conservancy doesn't have anything to do with the aquarium trade yet, to the best of my knowledge, I make this comment in my personal capacity. The MAC process has been long and involved and certification is still in its infancy. I believe we should acknowledge that certification is a sound concept and do what we can to help MAC make it viable by indicating where problems lie and offer constructive thoughts about how these might be resolved. Rod Salm Dr. Rodney V. Salm Director, Coastal Marine Conservation Country Programs Asia Pacific and California Division The Nature Conservancy 923 Nu'uanu Avenue Honolulu, HI 96817 Tel: 808-587-6284/Fax: 808-545-2019 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
IMA's position on MAC re email of Peter Rubec Dear James (and other interested folks) Thanks for this considered response. We will have a close look at what we are planning to do in PNG. I suspect you have worked in different countries of the world and know the enormous pressures on the government officials to generate income from natural resources. In depressed economies where there are few alternatives we need to do what we can to protect what we can and manage the rest sustainably. Being too polarized in favor of blanket protection might be our inclination, but is not often an option, or even desirable, and so could be our downfall. I do, however, strongly believe that we in the conservation community have to work together and among ourselves try different approaches where there are no proven examples of success. Eventually and collectively we will develop workable and enduring solutions (whatever those are). In the meantime. we feel pressured to provide answers too quickly, when in fact we haven't even figured out what the correct questions are to ask. I am also very aware of and sensitive to the need to recognize that in many areas "it will happen anyway" as you quote below - that sentiment may be the only reality when exploitation brings in immediate and tangible benefits. I hate to hide behind the poverty argument, but it is real, and there are not always good workable models to follow that can bring in immediate cash to meet immediate needs. best wishes (hurriedly) rod
Re: IMA's position on MAC re email of Peter Rubec (James Cervino's input) Dear All, The problem is not only restricted to the Philippines and is MUCH more rampant in the Indo Pacific and Malaysia region. My sources also tell me that TNC along with MAC will oversee a test program for importing fishes and corals from Papua New Guinea. Can this be happening? These groups are supposed to stand for "environmentalism" can these groups live with the fact that they may be opening a door to a region that has not been raped by this trade? <Which trade would that be?> We all have to understand that endangered corals and many fish species will continue to be brought into the USA and that 90%(or higher) of these imports will have been caught or collected in an UNREGULATED and destructive manner. If the MAC truly cared and wanted to make a difference they would stand up to the industry of ornamental fish collectors and importers. They should take a stance of "a temporary BAN" until proper measures are implemented to ensure that every fish and coral collected has been farm raised or collected in a non-stressful/damaging manner. Again, I sound like a broken record, as Shell World and Shell Man continue to sell 100 year old corals in the FL. Keys, and aquarium stores continue to import stressed animals for American fish tanks on coffee tables. <Uhh, fish tanks aren't set upon coffee tables James> Why is this issue not addressed in the MAC news letter? <Umm, it doesn't make them money?> We can all read the data which clearly indicates that high percentages of the worlds reefs are dying from temperature stress, diseases and pollution. Given the state of the world reefs why is the MAC promoting the continued importation of fishes and corals into the USA? Can they claim what there WEBS SITE is publishing? This is cut and pasted from the MAC site: <Again, either ignorance " MAC Certification allows you to identify marine ornamentals that have been collected, handled and cared for according to the only international standards for ensuring healthy, high quality animals that will live longer." <Another vague, feel-good spiel... spurious> How can the average citizen know if a fish in the ABC aquarium store has not been blasted with CN? <They can't as far as I'm aware. Symptomatically, histopathologically one can glean insight that cyanide might be at play in direct or incidental mortality.> 1) They (the MAC) know that there is no way that we are able to tell (once a fish is imported to the USA) if it was collected with CN! <Do they?> 2) The MAC is also un-able to ensure that corals are not clear cut from areas that are damaged from anthropogenic stress. The MAC also needs stand behind banning the importation of Acropora spp . from any region as they are most vulnerable to climate change and stress (given the numbers and species diversity of Acroporids is dwindling). Also, address which corals are not able to thrive in captivity i.e. Tubipora musica (Veron book #3 pp.406-407) and Heliofungia actiniformis . Many skilled reef-keepers know that these species are extremely difficult to keep in the average aquarium tank and that mortality will be high during collection and captivity. The statement should indicate that: 1) MAC will use their funds to ensure that CN testing labs will be at every export province in the coral and fish exporting regions in the world, and investigate other fish poisons that will be used instead of HCN- (Durris root, chlorine ) 2) corals will be collected and sold only from farms 3) net collection of fish only (trained under IMA Standards) if not collected from fish farms. Otherwise issue a STANCE of banning the trade until all the above is implemented and put into law. <You're dreaming... unrealistic... is this part of the new Pax Americana?> At this point, the methods that MAC uses to "certify" a client fall far short of what is needed. The client performs a "Self-Assessment Questionnaire Review," basically saying whatever he wants. The fact that "the certifier reviews the results of the questionnaire with the client" (as per the MAC web site) and makes a visit to the facility, provides little comfort or proof of non-capture with HCN. A key fact is being overlooked in this process: fish could have been captured using CN and it would never be visible! You can't just "look" at a fish and know that it has been captured using detrimental methods. Lab testing is mandatory. I personally know Peter Rubec, and respect him as a peer scientist. He remains a valuable resource for the IMA. The MAC and IMA need to listen to his and all of our concerns. <Agreed> Until corals and fishes are sold only from farms the aquarium trade will be responsible for the long list of stresses that will be responsible the loss of coral reefs in the tropics. <Will people who have such decision-making power choose to "protect" these resources... in the face of hard cash revenue, in place of far more destructive use by indigenous fisherfolk? Who will pay them instead? Who will care to "protect" the world's reefs if there is no notice, awareness of their intrinsic (and/or extrinsic) value to humans? Yes, including the great good that extraction (and culture) the ornamental aquatics trade does here. Bob Fenner> Sincerely, James M Cervino & Kathryn Winiarski-Cervino Thanks for the reply, however there was no signature in the last e-mail. Who am I discussing this with? Cheers, James <Bizarre, some of my response missing, including the name at bottom. Bob Fenner, WetWebMedia>
Re: IMA's position on MAC re email of Peter Rubec (Eric Borneman's input) >>The problem is not only restricted to the Philippines and is MUCH more rampant in the Indo Pacific and Malaysia region. My sources also tell me that TNC along with MAC will oversee a test program for importing fishes and corals from Papua New Guinea. Can this be happening? These groups are supposed to stand for "environmentalism" can these groups live with the fact that they may be opening a door to a region that has not been raped by this trade?<< But James, as many faults as there are with the trade, and just as one example, bomb fishing is occurring there (Irian Jaya, Moluccas, etc.) - I'd rather see a shift to aquarium collection under some sort of guidelines - even if not all its supposed to be - than bombs. I know I'm guilty here of my own argument oft offered of the inappropriateness of saying "this or that", but I feel a fishing to fishing comparison is sort of valid. >>We all have to understand that endangered corals and many fish species will continue to be brought into the USA and that 90%(or higher) of these imports will have been caught or collected in an UNREGULATED and destructive manner.<< There is regulation in these countries, for the most part, and also at the importing nations - especially regarding stony corals and in some cases, fish too. May be minimal, may be ineffective. But, look at MPA's. Look at coastal development. Same story, different players. Cyanide is illegal. It doesn't stop them that its illegal, so I doubt official MAC regulation will make them stop either - unless there is incentive. And incentive, be it a lame incentive or not, is often money. You would want it to be resource preservation, ethics, etc., but whatever it takes to conserve the habitat, you know? MAC is trying to change part of a problem for those who want to be a part of part of one of many possible solutions. Whether they succeed is certainly open to questions expressed here and elsewhere, and one of the reasons I hope the trade and the world, at large, doesn't expect to see the aquarium trade become all eco-friendly simply because they are here on the scene. I don't think even Paul has a cape...yet. ;-) >> If the MAC truly cared and wanted to make a difference they would stand up to the industry of ornamental fish collectors and importers. They should take a stance of "a temporary BAN" until proper measures are implemented to ensure that every fish and coral collected has been farm raised or collected in a non-stressful/damaging manner. << Yeah, maybe they should. But they ain't. As I said, maybe looking to MAC/TNC as the end all be all of solutions for the trade is flawed. Maybe MAC should be part of a solution and rather than pointing blame at MAC alone, point to one's self. I kill corals in tanks and I'm one of the best coral keepers on earth. I blame myself. I write books that tell people how to keep corals alive. Hopefully, this does the reefs and the aquarists some good, but ultimately promotes the trade. You killed corals collected for the trade in your research didn't you? Fish stores knowingly sell things to aquarists who will kill them. Wholesalers stock things that will die, for sure, because people are there to buy them. These aren't MAC issues. MAC should take responsibility for MAC issues. If it turns out they aren't a good part, the part isn't the whole and can be excised, so to speak. If it turns out they are, bonus. Let's expand the principle to the next level. >>Again, I sound like a broken record, as Shell World and Shell Man continue to sell 100 year old corals in the FL. Keys, and aquarium stores continue to import stressed animals for American fish tanks on coffee tables. << True. Its disturbing. Conspicuous consumption, in general, is disturbing, especially given the state of our earth. Unfortunately, this is an issue way beyond the scope of the aquarium trade. >> Why is this issue not addressed in the MAC news letter?<< Because this isn't MAC's job. That's the job for the yet to be founded "SWC" - shell world council. And the seahorse council. And the cheetah council, etc. Hence the reason I think, especially given the feelings shown in this letter, and in far more wide-ranging views as well, that MAC shouldn't take on Shell World issues, coral trade issues, etc. Maybe they should do a small thing well, and then expand if that works? >>We can all read the data which clearly indicates that high percentages of the worlds reefs are dying from temperature stress, diseases and pollution. Given the state of the world reefs why is the MAC promoting the continued importation of fishes and corals into the USA?<, well, because for at least some populations, it appears to be a sustainable industry that diverts labor from potentially more destructive labor. But, you are right, there's a lot of work to be done to show that trade in each species is sustainable, and I don't think its been done in many cases. I also object to continued importation of species with low to no survival, even if it is sustainable. That's just a waste. I also object to wild collection where alternate methods of production exist. I mean, right now, in the past year, without doing anything, I have turned two P. kauderni into nine. If I actually tried to rear the juveniles, I'd have hundreds. Yet, this regionally endemic species is being collected by the tens of thousands. What the ***? Why? We can't even get the desire of money together to stop unnecessary trade in this one species. I have populated dozens of entire tanks with corals grown from my one aquarium. Yet, every week, people flock to websites and stores to buy more corals that are grown abundantly by even rank amateurs. People throw Xenia away every day - literally flushing it own the toilet or throwing it in the garden because they have too much of it in their tanks, and have no source to get rid of it because everyone in the whole community has it in their tanks. Now, look at wholesalers - are they buying wild collected Xenia? You betcha. By the thousands. How can the average citizen know if a fish in the ABC aquarium store has not been blasted with CN? 1) They (the MAC) know that there is no way that we are able to tell (once a fish is imported to the USA) if it was collected with CN? That whole issue is a giant can of worms in more ways that MAC certification - at all levels. <,2) The MAC is also un-able to ensure that corals are not clear cut from areas that are damaged from anthropogenic stress. >. Very few areas aren't impacted anymore, especially near collection areas - sad but true. <<The MAC also needs stand behind banning the importation of Acropora spp . from any region as they are most vulnerable to climate change and stress (given the numbers and species diversity of Acroporids is dwindling). >> Well, I disagree here. Acropora are, IMO, ideal species as they grow fast, have high fecundity, and can be maricultured and aquacultured and are generally abundant, even if sensitive. And the statement about dwindling numbers and diversity is a Caribbean issue, and they aren't collected for the trade. Sensitivity to bleaching, Acanthaster, etc in the Pacific have little to do with aquarium collection, and any reduction in populations due to such factors could and should be addressed by proper monitoring and management of the resource at the country level - and MAC should be a supporting part of this. <<Also, address which corals are not able to thrive in captivity i.e. Tubipora musica (Veron book #3 pp.406-407) and Heliofungia actiniformis . Many skilled reef-keepers know that these species are extremely difficult to keep in the average aquarium tank and that mortality will be high during collection and captivity.>> Tubipora isn't really that hard to keep alive at all. But, true there are many species with very low survival and very high collection rates that should be looked at. Also rare corals with high collection rates, even with good survival, that are likely not sustainable at current harvest pressures. << At this point, the methods that MAC uses to "certify" a client fall far short of what is needed. >> really? LOL <,The client performs a "Self-Assessment Questionnaire Review," basically saying whatever he wants. The fact that "the certifier reviews the results of the questionnaire with the client" (as per the MAC web site) and makes a visit to the facility, provides little comfort or proof of non-capture with HCN. A key fact is being overlooked in this process: fish could have been captured using CN and it would never be visible! You can't just "look" at a fish and know that it has been captured using detrimental methods. Lab testing is mandatory.>> I think Peter probably has a bit to say to this effect. ;-) <<Until corals and fishes are sold only from farms the aquarium trade will be responsible for the long list of stresses that will be responsible the loss of coral reefs in the tropics.>> You mean, the aquarium trade will be part of the long list of stresses responsible for the loss of coral reefs, not responsible for them all, right? <<Therefore we decided to do our own certification with own cyanide tests in Switzerland. The tests will be made from an independent organization, preferably from Swiss Animal Protection. As for the moment, we can't trust the tests from the Philippines.>> Good for you! Figures this would be done from the EU rather than the old US of A. You know us, don't mess with our money or desires - something we often call our "rights"! <<Why exposing the problems is so > taboo is beyond my understanding. How can the problems ever been solved if > they are ignored?>> Because, Mary, and I hate to be so cynical here, that money and control play a part in this, too? Just a wild guess here. I mean, the word "stakeholder" peppered throughout MAC literature means something, doesn't it? Eric Borneman <Eric, would it be okay with you if I posted this on WWM? Bob Fenner> of course, Mr. Fenner. mon pleasure. Eric <Thank you my friend. Bob F>
Re: IMA's position on MAC re email of Peter Rubec <Thank you for your input. Bob Fenner> I agree 100% with Ms. Mary Middlebrook. As an enthusiastic scuba diver, I'm fighting since many years against illegal fishing with destructive methods. I was traveling already more than 40 times to Asia. I went diving together with ornamental fish collectors, especially in Indonesia, the Philippines and in the Red Sea. I could watch trainings from IMA in Indonesia and the Philippines. Since we want to establish a certification for net caught marine fish in Switzerland, I traveled to the Philippines three weeks ago to look after the progress of MAC certification there. What I could see there was shocking! Peter Rubec is right, what is going on with MAC in the Philippines is a fraud and Greenwashing the industry, especially the association of the exporters that 90% sells cyanide caught fish. To list only a few points: - The total volume of net caught fish in the Philippines is not even enough to feed 2-3 exporters. But as I heard, more than 10 are already certified. (?) - No random tests are made in the Philippines. Only low-end fish were tested, most damsels, clownfish, Chromis, etc. - Sometime, the testers from Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources uses only quick-tests, which are not sensitive enough to detect cyanide after one or two days after catching. - As I heard from collectors, net caught fish were mixed together with cyanide fish in the aquariums of certain exporters. A detailed report will follow within the next couple of days. The idea of MAC itself is good and could help to fight against illegal fishing. But what is going on in the Philippines cracks this idea down. Therefore we decided to do our own certification with own cyanide tests in Switzerland. The tests will be made from an independent organization, preferably from Swiss Animal Protection. As for the moment, we can't trust the tests from the Philippines. Mr. Charles Barber is good advised, not to lean out of the windows too wide, without to know what really happens. It could destroy also the name of IMA as he make the inappropriate comments on things that he don't know or don't want to know. Things have to be brought to the table. To put the dust under the carpet will worsen the situation. Josef Steiger KFI GmbH Switzerland Tel. +41-61-903 12 12 / +41-76-377 12 12 email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org www.asia-adventures.ch
Additional Information Re: IMA's position on MAC re email of Peter Rubec Additional Information Re: IMA's position on MAC re email of Peter Rubec I moderate a forum at www.reefs.org called "The Industry Behind the Hobby". This group allows industry professionals and hobbyists to discuss issues facing the industry/hobby. MAC is always a hot topic. Just this morning a hobbyist started a thread called "What is wrong with MAC?". Below is the response I gave. I am sending it to all of you because I do not wish for Peter to look as though he stands alone in his public questioning of MAC. You can read the entire thread and respond if you'd like at ********************************** What's wrong with MAC?? I'll lay it out again for everyone who doesn't want to sort through all of the info on this board (or doesn't want to believe it). Where do I begin.... 1. Lack of a cyanide test- How in the world can you certify a fish as net caught in an already corrupt country if you don't have testing in place? Well, MAC is just sending in a certifier to check paperwork (I highly doubt many companies list Cyanide as an expenditure!) and then taking the companies word for it. With that vague knowledge of what is going on in companies that have been using cyanide for 20+ years with no moral issues, MAC will then hand them a pretty little sticker. You MUST have a cyanide test in place to monitor exports on a daily/weekly basis if you are going to claim certification. Without it, the divers will put away their cyanide bottles when the certifier in the suit shows up once every 1-3 years and then pull it back out as soon as they are gone. 2. DOA standards are just ridiculous. 3. The fact of trying to keep a paperwork trail for EVERY SINGLE ANIMAL imported into the states is IMPOSSIBLE. 4. Too much room for cheating. This is already a corrupt industry. Just because someone has a MAC sticker doesn't mean they respect it. If all of these companies really respected MAC's goals they would have been achieving them long before MAC came along. Companies want a sticker from MAC to prove to their customers that they are "doing the right thing". Just like how wholesalers have been telling retailers for 20 years "Yeah, our fish our net caught". Anything to make a buck. Tell the customer what they want to hear, show the customer the sticker they want to see. 5. MAC has done an immense amount of straight out lying. They have proven over and over again that they do not want help of true reformers because we have the knowledge and scruples to expose them for what they are. And it's not just industry types- in fact, most of MAC's detractors aren't involved in handling livestock for the trade. They are authors, scientists, etc. Isn't that interesting?? Someone asked where Fenner, etc... stand. Well Fenner absolutely detests MAC. He has an even stronger anti-MAC stance than I do. You can read some of his comments at the following links: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/WWMAdminSubWebIndex/macattack.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/WWMAdminSubWebIndex/macattack2.htm If you don't feel like sifting through all of that text, here's a direct quote from Bob that pretty much sums it up: ***[b][quote]<Paul Holthus is a liar and a front for other peoples interests. Anyone who listens to MAC's false statements and partial facts is an idiot. Bob Fenner>[/quote][/b]*** Without her explicit permission, I refused to post a letter recently received from the first Philippine certified exporter who has been working with MAC for a very long time. However, Bob Fenner has posted it on his website. You can read her letter at that second link above, the 3rd headline down the page. Those are words [b]STRAIGHT FROM THE HORSE'S MOUTH ABOUT HOW MAC HAS DECEIVED HER AND IS PERPETRATING CERTIFICATION FRAUD. [/b] Eric Borneman doesn't trust them either. Here's a direct quote from him from a previous posting on this board: ***[quote] Years ago, when MAC was first forming, many people were writing to me and saying "Eric, you've got to get in with MAC - you and they are trying to do the same thing." I wrote to Paul, introduced myself, and told him what I did, how I felt, what my goals were, asked him how I could help." The response was the first of what became the modus operandi: "You can help by simply getting behind MAC and giving us the thumbs up and not actually doing a thing." I wrote back and said that's really not how I work, but that I would be glad to take on tasks or duties that needed to be done. The response: "You can help by simply getting behind MAC and giving us the thumbs up and not actually doing a thing."" My response was basically kiss my ass. Good luck to you, wish you the best, hope it makes a difference, and I'll be going my own way, thanks. Of course, Paul thinks I'm too radical now. Oh well. I can live with that, too. What I didn't realize at the time was that this was to become a very effective tactic for them - or so it appears to me. Here was a "reform group" that was supposed to represent the industry and the hobby, and saying all the right things, but doing nothing for a long long time. Instead, the result of their time was notice after notice of groups that were now backing or supporting MAC (and, I imagine, giving them the thumbs up without actually doing anything). Soon, massive public advertisement was out and bearing the names of NGO's governments, organizations, etc., and all by a group that "represented the industry." Oddly, I found very few hobbyists knew much, if anything, about MAC, their plans, or what they were actually doing. At this point, though, it really didn't matter anymore, for the vague mission statements and feel good words backed by such support were too appealing to say no to by the majority. Over time, it seemed because they were the only game in town, all these other trade and conservation issues came up and fell squarely onto them for solution, and soon what began as a paper radio collar for fish was portrayed and promised to be the savior of virtually all aquarium trade conservation issues, and MAC seemed all too willing to flex and offer their expertise, using "existing guidelines and standards" - though no actual result had yet even arise from their organization. Sure they existed....on paper. Along the way, it seemed a casual appearance would take place electronically or in person at a conference to actually speak to the people they were supposed to represent - i.e. the stores and aquarists. The rest seemed to take place without that need. But, with the sponsorship and support of so many groups, who needs the pawns to raise their meager hands? [/quote]*** Peter Rubec of the International Marinelife Alliance (who has no ties to the trade) sees the fraud that is being perpetrated and speaks openly about it on here. Peter is now being "silenced" by the IMA. Could the IMA want him to shut up because they receive funding from MAC??? Hey, don't look a gift horse in the mouth. Howard Latin, an environmental lawyer, is against MAC. You can read his comments here http://reefs.org/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=19518&start=0 (6th post down) Dr. Thomas Goreau, president of the Global Coral Reef Alliance, has nominated MAC for the annual international greenwash award. Read more about this award at http://www.earthsummit.biz/ and other information can be found at http://www.betterworldlinks.org/book90g.htm All of you are not privy to much of the "behind the scenes" MAC information that is traded back and forth. Most of this information is confidential right now, but will be coming out soon. If all of you only knew the whole picture you'd understand where Steve, Peter, and I are coming from. Is MAC's goal a worthy one? Of course it is!! Who doesn't want to save the reefs and the industry in one fell swoop?? Gee, it would be a "win-win situation" (to quote one of MAC's favorite statements). Guess what? MAC is very good at putting out very general, vague, feel good statements about saving the reefs and improving the trade. However, you never see the nuts and bolts of ANYTHING. You can't say MAC is going to protect the reefs without qualifying that statement somehow and proving that it is being done PRIOR to certification. You can't say that MAC is going to end the cyanide trade if there is no test in place PRIOR to certification. But guess what? Certifications are being issued as we speak. So although their public ramblings are very attention grabbing and feel-good, they have no teeth. There is nothing to support it. But hey, it generates funding and nice fat salaries for executive directors. People who understand the industry and demand real industry reform (like the above mentioned people) can see through the farce and are sickened at the thought of a certified trade that continues to do business as usual. There are 2 types of people that fall into MAC's trap: those who don't understand how the trade operates and those that want to maintain their funding. <All right Mary! Keep stirring that pot. Will post, Bob Fenner>
<Thank you for cc'ing us. Will post. Bob Fenner> Please see the email, below, that I sent to Paul Holthus, Executive Director of the Marine Aquarium Council (MAC) on December 10, in reference to the email that was circulated to all of you by Peter Rubec on December 7. Sincerely, Charles Barber Vice-President and MAC Board Member International Marinelife Alliance ______________________________________________ December 10, 2002 Paul Holthus Executive Director Marine Aquarium Council Dear Paul: I am writing to respond to the recent (December 7) and widely circulated email by Peter Rubec, making unsubstantiated claims that "MAC is a fraud", CAMP is a "phony program," MAC has decided to certify exporters who sell cyanide-caught fish, and the like. AS IMA's representative on the MAC Board, I wish, in very clear and explicit terms, to disavow and condemn these comments by Mr. Rubec. I have reprimanded Mr. Rubec for making these comments, and I assure you that he will not do so again. He was writing in his individual capacity and his comments do not represent the views or position of IMA. As you know, IMA as an organization, and myself as IMA's representative on MAC's board, are supportive of the goals of MAC's program. While IMA is concerned that the cyanide detection testing program in the Philippine has been discontinued by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources since they took over management of the testing laboratories from IMA in October 2001, and we feel that systematic sampling and testing of live fish for export should be re-established in the Philippines, Mr. Rubec's comments were inappropriate and, as I have noted, do not in any way represent the views of IMA. I apologize for this unfortunate incident, and I hope that it will not prove to be an impediment for IMA's continued relationship with MAC. I will see that it does not happen again. Sincerely, Charles Barber Vice-President and MAC Board Member International Marinelife Alliance.
IMA's position on MAC re email of Peter Rubec Dear Mr. Barber, How are things at the IMA? THE ORGANIZATION THAT I AND DR. RUBEC FORMED TO DEAL WITH THE CRISIS IN THE PHILIPPINES 17 YEARS AGO? Do you really think yourself qualified to judge him? Do you really want to take this to the streets? I surely hope so. MAC and the true reformers are working things out now and soon the only shameful record left on this issue will be that of the IMA. [you are of course out of touch with these developments] . I am only to happy to debate you publicly and expose your groups squandering of the issue, ensuring the perpetuation of the cyanide trade. I think you should leave now while you have a chance. Sincerely, Steve Robinson Co- Founder IMA <You go Steve! Bob F>
Campaign Season? <Good luck Steve. Bob F> Hello, As the election for AMDA nears, I feel you have all been a bit cheated out of the lack of candidate choices, especially for the position I'm running for...president. In campaign season, the idea of Democracy is to put candidates in danger and have them defend themselves and their ideas publicly against an opponent that would like to beat you and win the thing themselves. Lacking such an opponent, I think it only fair that I risk myself and tell you what I'm really thinking. If my thinking is too outrageous for some, for example, there's still time for a write in candidate, right? On reform of the trade issues I've often suffered the 'me against the world' syndrome for so long that it just doesn't feel right to win without a fight...like Saddam Hussein. ..so, here goes. On Reefs.org. I responded to a thread about the newly certified retailers and wholesalers in the MAC program: REVERSE CERTIFICATION? Without any serious field training policy or programs in the Philippines to create more than a 'token' body of certified divers, we are now certifying exporters, retailers and wholesalers? And with plenty more to come. Interesting, but still as predicted for the past year. The main guy in the MANILAS MAC program has already given up trying to convince the 'white guys at the top' of actually training and converting cyanide fisherman professionally and has recently uttered the most powerful condemnation yet of their out of touch, hands off policy of neglecting the field issues...."If you can't beat em, join em". The second field trainer is letting his contract run out for 'incompatibility' problems with this same detached and far removed management cliche. If I were to seek certification, which I certainly am not, I would be very pissed off at being sold an expensive certification certificate without the honest goods to go with it. Surely, knowingly certifying something falsely must be illegal if not improper. You want to see more information with regards to this monkey business? There's a lot in the pipeline but I'm not sure if this is the forum for it. I can tell you this however. I'll never let "peace thru fraud" be an acceptable policy and if the MAC field programs don't get more honest. I will hold them responsible for the squandering of the good will among those who want the problems solved and not whitewashed. I signed a letter of commitment to support not MAC but the reform of the trade as proffered by MAC. I will rescind that endorsement if cyanide fish continue to be certified to unsuspecting yet well meaning marinelife dealers in this country. You all want the truth? Can our trade even handle the truth? Things are coming to a head soon and believe it or not, I am not nearly the harshest critic of the lack of achievement in the Philippines that gives so much importance to the MAC program. None of you out there would be happy to pay for a certificate that your car was fixed if it wasn't really fixed now would you? Of course not. Maybe we're all supposed to go along with the show somehow and I missed a memo on it. If so, will someone please tell me where the pay off is to sell out on the issue? Where did I ever get the idea that we were supposed to be sincere and honest in life and in business? There's good in the world. Why can't we embrace it and be part of it? Who says the shallowest of business practices and P.R. gimmickry has to stand for our own?? "Can't beat em join em"? Hell no...no training, no peace! Steve Robinson
Could you send me a hard copy of your paper? (Re MAC duplicity) Doug, I heard that the number of PFTEA exporters certified by the MAC has grown. Apparently, about 15 are now MAC certified. My information is that the MAC has decided to certify exporters who sell cyanide-caught fish. This puts the others (like Aquarium Habitat, and HD Marineworld) who have tried to do it right (by buying net-caught fish from collectors trained by IMA and Haribon) at a big disadvantage. It also indicates what I suspected. The MAC never intended to reform trade collection, holding, and shipping practices. They are "Greenwashing" the aquarium trade. Greenwashing is where an environmental group (in this case the MAC and WWF) "certify" products being traded as being "environmentally friendly" when they actually are not. In this case, the MAC has certified at least one collection site by creating a phony Collection Area Management Plan (CAMP). They are certifying PFTEA exporters without requiring them to adhere to Collection-Holding standards. Hence, MAC certification does not mean that the organisms were collected in a sustainable manner (net-caught) from reef sites with sustainable populations of fish and healthy coral reefs (purpose of the CAMP). Hence, the MAC is a fraud. You may copy this message to others in the trade if you wish. Sincerely, Peter J. Rubec, Ph.D. Senior Research Scientist International Marinelife Alliance <Thanks for sending this along Steve (and to you Peter for penning it). Glad to see definitive opinions being voiced... based on solid evidence. Bob Fenner>
The Real MAC (Forwarded by Steve Robinson) I can't keep silent any longer, Steve. Please read the attached. With best regards, Marivi G. Laurel Aquarium Habitat Ent. <As I've warned people for years re Holthus and co... they are neither competent nor honest. My long-standing advice is for the industry to shun them altogether. Bob Fenner>
MR. PAUL HOLTHUS Executive Director Marine Aquarium Council 923 Nu'uanu Avenue Honolulu, HI 96817 USA
It has been 2 years since I have been working with the MAC pilot project and 6 months hence my official certification as one of the first exporter conforming to the standard. I have always been a fervent supporter of the cause for reforms in the industry and have put back every cent of my earnings for the improvement of my facility and its operations in accordance to this vision. This is because I believed in the long term benefits of the MAC Standard and I believed that the MAC standard was a good beginning towards reforming the industry and providing us with a sustainable livelihood.
I am still a firm believer of the cause for a certification scheme. But it comes to a point that I must voice out my absolute disappointment with present operations of the MAC. As an independently certified organization that has been working with you from the beginning, I can testify to the numerous inconsistencies that MAC has committed against the primary objectives of the certification scheme for Philippine exporters. As it is turning out, it is further contributing to the abuses of the cyanide trade by helping to hide this fact. Six months prior to being assessed for certification, I had already been executing a perfectly approved system of operation that MAC has used as a blueprint in its representations locally and abroad. It belittles my efforts to know that barely a month prior to the first assessment conducted in the Philippines, the system was tutored by MAC representatives to other exporters who at the same time as I, had been certified. This had certainly taken me by surprise. How can an exporter who has only practiced the system for a month or less qualify for assessment and pass certification? An honest-to-goodness certifiable system cannot be mastered in just a month of practice. I know this because it took my organization almost a year before I could honestly say we were ready for a MAC assessment and deserving of a certification. Then it dawned on me that in fact the assessment of exporters for MAC certification only covers the Facility Management & Procedures Manual, an academic document that can be completed in a month and reviewed in a seating. It did not cover any assessment on business ethics and actual practice nor have you installed any monitoring system to review the possibility of any non-conformities. This is a highly refutable standard for an exporters certification and places much of his qualifications in doubt. It is very unfair for those of us who really deserve the certification.
While the MAC has completed the line-up of exporters of the PTFEA due for certification with such speed, it has not placed the same concentration in assessing and certifying collection areas and collectors to improve the species variety for the MAC exporter. With only 6 certified collection sites, how can there be enough MAC fish for all the exporters you are working on certifying now? Without enough species variety, a MAC exporter will have to obtain their fish from uncertified sources in order to be competitively viable in the marketplace. You have created a situation where a MAC exporter is legitimized for willfully purchasing fishes that are not MAC fish. I brought this to the attention of your Country Coordinator, who to my surprise had encouraged me to do the same! I completely disagree with you here and it made me open my eyes to a lot of other things.
The MAC vision mandates that a MAC collector should be provided more incentives and better economic benefits for adhering to a standard of best practices. But MAC has not made a stand to defend the MAC collectors. MAC has permitted members of the PTFEA to continue purchasing MAC fish at the same prices they would pay to cyanide-catching fishermen. I am the only MAC certified exporter outside the PTFEA. And I have pursued the vision of MAC to give the fisherfolk a fair deal for their troubles. The greatest measure of my performance is in the attestations of the MAC collectors themselves whom I encourage you to investigate in proving my point. Records can likewise behold. At some time approximately 80% of all MAC fish were being brought to my facility because the collectors were very unhappy with the manner they were being treated by the others exporters. But I am being unfairly undersold by other MAC exporters and have lost a lot of the business on account of this. If the situation is that every MAC exporter had to try to undersell each other, the fisher folk will ultimately be compromised. Buying prices will have to be brought down. I have again brought this matter to the attention of your Country Coordinator who had no defense or plan of action to counter. Your non-policy stand on this issue is about to shut down my business and is very demoralizing for the collectors.
Now that MAC has allowed the certification of exporters who continue to obtain cyanide-caught fish, and in the absence of any firm policies has even encouraged the cyanide trade, the MAC certification scheme has completely lost its credibility. I hate to think that all that work put into it was for naught but I cannot allow myself and my organization to be a party in this white washing. I have resolved to rally for a true and respectable exporters certification program and I urge you to take remedial action on the issues brought before you.
Yours truly, Marivi G. Laurel
MACaroni and the Trade Hello Boss, If you'll check out the latest Reefs.org, industry behind the hobby threads...you'll see I'm not mentioning MAC by name anymore, much less their officers. This is a concession while holding an abundance of ammo. <Okay> Here's a realization that kept me up from 4 am on this morning. If its true that in order to move the trade towards "reform" we must tolerate mixing of fishes among our certified champions and role models, where does that leave the ultra honest environmentalists like myself who refuse to discredit and dishonor the process? Who won't subsidize killing the coral for now [to get some blue tangs and clown triggers] in order to 'save' them later? ...and as a result, suffer unfair competition in the marketplace for this stand? Am I a point man to be sacrificed for the "needs of the many"? The convenience of a flawed program? Collateral damage in the attempt to mainstream a reform movement without the inconvenience and embarrassment of the proverbial whistleblower? My wife says "yes". My landlords say "I don't care". <Smart of both> What am I supposed to do? Remain quiet? Accept the latest squandering of the chance to solve the problem from the field so that it could stay honest as it goes up the market chain? De-facto acceptance and compliance...be cool? Get back to selling only Mexican fish? Change professions? Can't beat em, join em? Apply for work with the "bogeymen" who want to shut down the trade? [If anyone knows who these phantoms are, please forward their numbers} <You're cracking me up... many choices. I became a content provider... writing and pix, video... but such dissonance does bum me out, believe me> Isn't self defense a natural right? If fighting to stay legit is wrong, will someone tell me that in public? Sincerely, Steve <Steve, in a world where the public as a whole is lied to, misled by its very own self-governance to the extent of minimalizing other peoples' lives to the nth, what do you think the chances are of "the trade" duking it out against vested (make that subsidized) interests like Monterey, Ford Foundations...? Expose charlatans for what they are, portend to be... as you deem fit... but my advice, don't lose sleep over these issues... thieves ultimately know who, what they are... Pointing them out to themselves does little good. Bob Fenner>
Re: Shooting the messenger from a hiding place. <Steve, do you really regard the shell that is AMDA as an appropriate vehicle... for your efforts? Bob F> Well Tom, I think you should run against me and let the membership decide. There is no question of a "takeover" of the innocent, unsuspecting membership that you seem to worry about. I thought it was majority vote that elects somebody. If you don't trust the majority to contemplate a campaign, then what system do you think best? We're not even campaigning yet...your threads seem to be against the possibility of a campaign! Even if I run and lose, at least welcome an examination of the real issues that as Randy has so well pointed out, threaten the trade. And why is the trade threatened? The "industry leaders" you spoke well of ...didn't they do a good job? Did I interfere with them? Were they impeded by 'Greenpeace style radicals". And if you are privy to gossip from competitors of mine, is that a valid approach to try and discredit someone BEFORE a campaign? Shall I go to your neck of the woods and talk to some of your historical competitors?? What would they have to say I wonder. Furthermore, what did Dr. Rubec [ A FISHERIES BIOLOGIST] and Howard Latin [ AN ENVIRONMENTAL LAW PROFESSOR] say that upset you so that you can't refute? You don't like free speech or something? You don't respect the right of others to evaluate evidence and arguments? You want to know where I get my passion for freedom of speech and Democracy from? I'll tell you. Working in corrupt countries for 20 years catching fish for the trade where free speech was not allowed. When I work in my own country, I have a pent up need for freedom of expression and a healthy respect for constructive and transparent debate. If one is not well regarded by the rank and file voters...the remedy is to vote against the candidate. Then, the loser respectfully congratulates the victor. Don't be afraid that MAC may lose its rubberstamp collection of auto pilot lockstep endorsements. Maybe we can help open them up a little to become more Democratic also. Then they will be better regarded by the USCRTF and their search for funding and acceptance [before deeds] may bear more fruit. If the trade is under the microscope now for its failure to reform itself, I might even serve as a ' token' proof that our trade is indeed embracing reform and not afraid of cleaning up its own house. Get with the times Tom. Reform is OK now. Its kinda in vogue and not that out of line anymore. Perhaps I could have a cyanide dealer to run with me to balance the ticket to appease you. Better yet. YOU run against me. PS. Note. Greenpeace is no longer a symbol of radical activism. They have become enjoyed mainstream acceptance in the years since you stopped looking. They have high administrative salaries, a serious infrastructure and nice glossy calendars for sale. If you need a new symbol of extremism to attempt to make a point with, let me assist you since I am obviously in cahoots with all of them, i.e.. Sea Shepard's, Earth First! etc Re: [amdamembers] Re: Shooting the messenger from a hiding place. Bob, Besides ...the empty shell of window washers, I mean tank wipers, I mean service guys that made AMDA so shallow and useless could perhaps be reworked... <I hope you're right> For lack of alternatives...its an idea. Mary could be VEEP. <Ha! I wonder if she'd accept, like it. Bob> Steve
<And so it goes. Bob> Subject: Re: Fwd: progress with MAC at Macna? Howdy Steve, Segrest Farms and Brem Marine will give a the netting to the training program. I cannot guarantee we can do this forever but to get this started. We have done this before with Haribon years before. Someone get us the info as to who to get the netting to. E Clarionreef@aol.com wrote: > Date: Wed, 2 Oct 2002 16:10:22 EDT > From: Clarionreef@aol.com > Dear John, > Thanks for your response and frankness. I am flattered > that you speak straight to me. It shows that you respect the fact that > I can take direct and constructive criticism and let the chips fall > where they may, I wonder if you can communicate with Paul H. on these > critical matters with the same candor. > I grant that MAC has built up an unprecedented potential > and the infrastructure to carry it thru. I am simply perplexed why > they are so determined to not allow the proper netting supply and > training methodology to be a part of it. Their own trainer, Ferdie > Cruz has had enough and is going back to the IMA in January. > Just how MAC hopes to deliver on the greatest of promises without > handnetting material and training that precludes backsliding is beyond > me. Their trainings didn't stick with Ferdie and will stick even less > without him. > I have rolls of the missing netting material in my > office. I sent some to Ferdie 8 months ago [ he has since run out] and > he tells me he could never get it past the top heavy MAC > administration to secure more. Divers who were trained a decade ago > and who assist Ferdie have asked him time and again to get the right > netting to make trainings complete. Why not??? Why be against the very > thing that insures he credible training that this entire effort is so > dependant upon ?? > Its Haribon and the IMAs folley all over again. If its > not planned, premeditated failure then what is it? I've talked this > things over with Dave Vosleer and Silvia Spalding and find no > resistance to free technical advice whatsoever. In fact they ask so > for much more. However when it gets to Paul , the attempts at reason > seem to evaporate. This is so easy to fix and doesn't have to be a big > thing at all. > Dave promised changes and we'll be in touch after the > USCRTF meeting in Puerto Rico. I hope that Dave is more successful > this time in getting thru to Paul for the need not to fake it any > longer. The past 10 years of phoney, inadequate, incomplete, jury > rigged trainings have to stop! I can support MAC so easily if we can > get past this. It is so illogical to alienate your reformers and true > believers in this matter and although I can't fathom why it has > continued, I hope it stops. > Thats why I write to you. I hope you can help break the > log-jam and help produce some reality to go with the certifications. > Certifying firefish and barred gobies from Batangas and ordinary fish > from Zambales is not going to pass for real reform to any but the > uninitiated much longer. Forcing retailers to buy cyanide caught fish > [ ie. blue tangs, clown triggers, blueface and majestic angels, most > other angels, etc] to supplement all the critical gaps in the > netcaught inventory must end. This mixing is just ruining credibility > all up and down the line and keeping us divided. > 20 years of "reform" and we still can't get net caught > blue tangs! My , but somethings just not right here, Well, I've waied > 20 years, I guess I can wait a bit longer. I wish I had a dime for > everyone who has told me to be patient. Some of them have since passed > away. > Heres hoping that developments that you spoke of to come > will bear fruit. > Sincerely, Steve
progress with MAC at MACNA? Dear John, Thanks for your response and frankness. I am flattered that you speak straight to me. It shows that you respect the fact that I can take direct and constructive criticism and let the chips fall where they may, I wonder if you can communicate with Paul H. on these critical matters with the same candor. I grant that MAC has built up an unprecedented potential and the infrastructure to carry it thru. I am simply perplexed why they are so determined to not allow the proper netting supply and training methodology to be a part of it. Their own trainer, Ferdie Cruz has had enough and is going back to the IMA in January. Just how MAC hopes to deliver on the greatest of promises without hand netting material and training that precludes backsliding is beyond me. Their trainings didn't stick with Ferdie and will stick even less without him. I have rolls of the missing netting material in my office. I sent some to Ferdie 8 months ago [ he has since run out] and he tells me he could never get it past the top heavy MAC administration to secure more. Divers who were trained a decade ago and who assist Ferdie have asked him time and again to get the right netting to make trainings complete. Why not??? Why be against the very thing that insures he credible training that this entire effort is so dependant upon ?? Its Haribon and the IMAs folly all over again. If its not planned, premeditated failure then what is it? I've talked this things over with Dave Vosleer and Silvia Spalding and find no resistance to free technical advice whatsoever. In fact they ask so for much more. However when it gets to Paul , the attempts at reason seem to evaporate. This is so easy to fix and doesn't have to be a big thing at all. Dave promised changes and we'll be in touch after the USCRTF meeting in Puerto Rico. I hope that Dave is more successful this time in getting thru to Paul for the need not to fake it any longer. The past 10 years of phony, inadequate, incomplete, jury rigged trainings have to stop! I can support MAC so easily if we can get past this. It is so illogical to alienate your reformers and true believers in this matter and although I can't fathom why it has continued, I hope it stops. That's why I write to you. I hope you can help break the log-jam and help produce some reality to go with the certifications. Certifying Firefish and barred gobies from Batangas and ordinary fish from Zambales is not going to pass for real reform to any but the uninitiated much longer. Forcing retailers to buy cyanide caught fish [ i.e.. blue tangs, clown triggers, Blueface and majestic angels, most other angels, etc] to supplement all the critical gaps in the net caught inventory must end. This mixing is just ruining credibility all up and down the line and keeping us divided. 20 years of "reform" and we still can't get net caught blue tangs! My , but something's just not right here, Well, I've waited 20 years, I guess I can wait a bit longer. I wish I had a dime for everyone who has told me to be patient. Some of them have since passed away. Here's hoping that developments that you spoke of to come will bear fruit. Sincerely, Steve <Thanks for cc'ing me Steve... hope something worthwhile comes of all this hand-wringing, gerrymandering... How about all addressing the root issues of reef mis-utilization? Like overpopulation, lack of education, resource allocation? Guess you can't "tax" the indigenous folks quite so easily. Bob F>
Using one of your articles in the MASNA newsletter Hello Bob! Long time no talk to! The excitement over MAC pretty much fizzled out, as it is apt to do if someone isn't constantly reminding everyone what a bad idea it is. <Thought as much. Good riddance to Holthus and his phony "we'll save you" campaign. Found your "signing off" coverage of involvement in AMDA and MAC posted on your site interesting Mary.> I have officially resigned my role as "Chief Whistleblower". It gets really tiring trying to make people understand the problems and even more tiring trying to get them to do something about it. <I can imagine... did my bit in this realm in the late sixties and early seventies re the revision of the Lacey/Black Bass Act... we almost ended up with more government/sooner like the poor Australian pet-fish folks...> Problem is that the big boys in the industry (with the exception of Elwyn Seagrest) cry about MAC behind closed doors but shake their hands in public. I refuse to get my hands dirty by going anywhere near MAC. My new goal is to concentrate on my business and make money doing things ethically and environmentally correct (novel concept, eh?). <My friend... this IS the only path of self-fulfillment and satisfaction> No more industry activism for me. I figure I better make money while I still can. The point of this letter is to ask you if I can use the article Successful Pet Business Series: Part I from your website for the MASNA newsletter. Lots of hobbyists have been telling me that they want a piece of the industry pie by opening up a business. I think your article is a very good synopsis of what they should be thinking about. Let me know! Mary Middlebrook <You and MASNA are welcome to the free use of any/all of my content... as are all non-profit concerns per our policy: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/WWMUsePolicyStmt.htm Bob Fenner>
PPN article re MAC Disingenuity Hi Bob, Marilyn I. from PPNews informed me that the article about MAC turned out well and will run in the May issue. I seem to have gotten a little blurb from you about it, but didn't glean if you contributed or not. I guess you got the latest MAC Spin Machine release. It sure is a pity an organization like MAC will not listen to people who make strong arguments against their logic. <It would be, is not to their advantage to do so. Bob Fenner> Regards, Mitch
<Paul Holthuis is a liar and a front for other peoples interests. Anyone who listens to MAC's false statements and partial facts is an idiot. Bob Fenner> Subject: Fwd: MAC News 1st Quarter 2002 (More, B.S., Propaganda... ) >MARINE AQUARIUM COUNCIL<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = >"urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /> >International Certification for the Quality and Sustainability >of Marine Aquarium Organisms '¦ from Reef to Retail >MAC News 1st Quarter 2002 >Director's Note >The Marine Aquarium Council (MAC) was busy the first quarter of 2002 <Changing spiels, looking for more "sponsors"/"stake/steakholders to steal from> >with the initial implementation of MAC Certification, with a strong >focus on the training of collectors to enable them to become >certified and ensure a supply of certified marine ornamentals. <What lies... these folks don't even know how to "do" this themselves... They're not, never have been part of the industry... look at their backgrounds> MAC >also continued outreach efforts with the marine aquarium industry >and other coral reef stakeholders, the results of which include an >increasing numbers of companies committed to MAC Certification and >stakeholders who belong to the MAC Network. <WHO? Name them... what proselytizing> >MAC Coordinates Training of Marine Ornamental Collectors in >Sustainable Practices >A major MAC focus is ensuring marine ornamental collectors >understand the MAC Standards and have the information and skills to >become certified so they can provide high quality, sustainably >harvested marine aquarium organisms to the companies and hobbyists >who are increasingly seeking them. <Where? Who? Name names...> MAC works through partnerships to >achieve this, building on the experience of the feasibility study >and testing of the MAC Standards and Certification in the >Philippines in 2001. The success of these efforts with the >International Marinelife Alliance and the Palawan Council for >Sustainable Development makes areas such as Palawan an excellent >training ground. >On March 5-7, MAC assisted the German Technical Cooperation agency >(GTZ) with a collectors training workshop in Coron, Palawan, >Philippines. Some 26 collectors with strong leadership qualities, >most of them based in far-flung but significant collection areas in >the Philippines, came together for specialized training on net >collecting and high quality post-harvest handling using a training >manual based on MAC Standards and produced by GTZ. The trainees have >accepted the responsibility of imparting the skills they learned to >their fellow collectors. >In Indonesia, MAC is actively working with AKKII (the Indonesia >Coral, Shell and Ornamental Fish Association), Terangi (the >Indonesia Coral Reef Conservation organization), Telapak, WWF >Indonesia and others to develop and implement an outreach and >training program for collectors and their communities. MAC is >breaking new ground by creating an international exchange of >experience among collectors and those who work with collectors to >build on the lessons and experience of previous efforts and ensure >the industry in Indonesia, and elsewhere, can participate in >certification as cost effectively as possible. >To alleviate the lack of qualified trainers for marine ornamental >collectors in Indonesia, MAC organized the first >'training-of-trainers' program in Coron, Palawan, from February 8 to >March 7. The practicalities of implementing the MAC Standards and >becoming certified and lessons learned in the Philippines were >shared with five representatives from the Indonesian marine >conservation organizations of Terangi, WWF Indonesia, Telapak and >Bahtera Nusantara. The program participants will become a training >resource for the many Indonesian NGOs and export companies that >support a marine aquarium industry based on net capture and proper >post-harvest handling and transport techniques. The training >participants spent most of their time in the water with responsible >collectors to learn proper collection, handling and holding >techniques. They also worked on understanding the documentation >system for collectors, developing collection area management plans >and other activities associated with MAC Certification of collectors >and collection areas. After returning from the Philippines, the >training program alumni met with AKKI to begin developing a >MAC-AKKII-NGO partnership work plan for training collectors in >Indonesia. >List of MAC Committed Companies and Supporters Continues to Grow >Sixty-four companies have signed the MAC Statement of Commitment. <A tentative document that will not be supported...> >They come from Australia (1); Bahrain (1); Belau (1); Fiji (5); >France (1); Holland (1); Indonesia (5); Israel (1); Philippines >(19); Spain (1); Solomon Islands (2); United Kingdom (1), and the >United States (25). >By signing the statement, companies agree to >Â· Seek to become certified as soon as possible and inform their >suppliers and buyers of this. >Â· Actively educate their suppliers and buyers about the benefits of >following standards for an environmentally sound and sustainable >industry and being MAC Certified. >Â· Promote MAC Certification as evidence of their company's >commitment. >Â· Use their best efforts to seek suppliers and buyers who also >follow the MAC Standards. >Â· Distribute MAC brochures and other materials with shipments to >suppliers and buyers. >Â· Send to MAC, in confidence, a list of their suppliers and buyers >to assist industry outreach. >Â· Provide import/export data, in confidence, to the Global Marine >Aquarium Database. >Four trade associations have also made public their support for MAC >Certification. The latest statement came in January from the >American Marinelife Dealers Association (AMDA) Board, which 'voted >unanimously to support MAC in its goals for the aquarium industry. >This will include actively promoting MAC certification among our >members, and encouraging these same members to sign up for >certification as soon as possible.' >Excerpts from the trade association statements as well as the list >of companies that have signed a Statement of Commitment can be found >on the MAC website at ><http://www.aquariumcouncil.org/>www.aquariumcouncil.org. >US Industry Explores Certification Issues during MAC Workshop >US based companies that have signed the MAC Statement of Commitment >were invited to a workshop March 6 in Los Angeles to consider >several issues related to the MAC Standards. The representatives of >16 companies, as well as American Marinelife Dealers Association, >attended the workshop, which was chaired by Marshall Meyers, chair >of the MAC Board of Directors, and Executive Vice President of the >U.S. Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council. The specific focus of the >workshop was to move towards developing interpretation of the MAC >Standards so they can be implemented with a reasonable level of >flexibility to meet industry realities. Reiterating their overall >support for MAC and its goals, participants agreed that ongoing >consultation on the issues is a constructive way to ensure industry >concerns are heard. >Regarding the 'Unsuitable Species List' referred to in Annex 4 of >the MAC Standards, it was clarified that the MAC Board of Directors >will be developing the Terms of Reference for the Unsuitable Species >Committee and the criteria and process for selecting its members, >probably in late 2002. The workshop recommended that the committee, >when it begins its work, focus on animals that are deadly to the >average human or become too large for the average hobbyist tank and >that exceptions should be made for scientific, research, educational >and other specific purposes. >The workshop considered at length the linked issues of acceptable >mortality rates, certified organism traceability, documentation >requirements and the certification of facilities. A committee was >created to explore interpretive language to ensure that the MAC >Standards address these issues in a manner that is practical and >applicable. MAC Executive Director Paul Holthus and MAC >Certification Coordinator David Vosseler noted that interpretative >language having a significant impact on the standards would have to >be reviewed by the MAC Board and that any change to the standards, >if deemed warranted, would have to undergo a multi-stakeholder and >public review process. >The workshop also discussed at length the need for considerable >efforts to ensure collectors are trained and able to supply >certified marine organisms from certified collection areas. >Participants agreed to have the committee explore industry support >to assist MAC training to help collectors and collection areas >become certifiable. >MAC in the Pacific: Focus on Fiji >MAC Pacific Region Coordinator Michelle Lam and MAC Accreditation >Coordinator Peter Scott spent much of March working with the >industry and other stakeholders in Fiji. Owners and managers of four >companies that have signed the MAC Statement of Commitment, along >with representatives from the Fiji Fisheries Department and WWF, >participated in the Fiji Certification Development Workshop on March >6 to become more familiar with the MAC Certification process. Walt >Smith, chair of the Fiji Marine Aquarium Council, spoke about >developments between MAC and US importers and the recent suspension >of CITES exports from Fiji (which has now been rescinded). Industry >members agreed that interpretive manuals for coral and invertebrate >collection are needed. >Following the workshop, Lam and Scott visited the facilities of all >marine ornamentals exporters in Fiji and worked with the companies >to ensure they understood the MAC Standards and Certification >process and facilitate their efforts to make the changes needed to >meet the MAC Standards. The team also spent time with the MAC Board >Member organization Friends of the Peoples of the South Pacific, >relevant government agencies, WWF South Pacific and other >environmental groups based in Fiji. >MAC Expands Public Aquarium Outreach and Partnership Efforts >An integral part of the MAC communication strategy is working with >public aquariums to educate marine aquarium hobbyists and the >general public about the benefits of a sustainable, environmentally >sound marine aquarium trade and the role of MAC Certification in >achieving this. A first step in this direction involves educating >public aquarium personnel on ways they can support MAC through their >exhibits, outreach, media relations and acquisition activities. >Building on the MAC presence at the annual meeting of the American >Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA) since 1998, MAC Communications >Coordinator Sylvia Spalding participated in the Regional Aquatics >Workshop, March 24-27 in Denver. Spalding provided participants with >the MAC informational kit for public aquariums, which MAC and SeaWeb >have created. The kit was reviewed by the workshop at a presentation >by Spalding and Doug Warmolts, the AZA representative on the MAC >Board of Directors. >Between workshop sessions, Warmolts and Spalding convened a group >representing 10 US and European public aquariums that will work with >MAC to draft language for an implementation manual for the MAC >Standards regarding the acquisition of marine aquarium organisms by >scientific and educational institutions. >MAC Attracts Retailers at Trade Shows >MAC Certification Coordinator David Vosseler participated in the >PIDA Pets 2002 show March 16-17 in Orlando, Fla. During the event 69 >new people subscribed to the MAC News. Of these, 49 were retailers >who expressed interest in becoming MAC Certified. >The next shows MAC will attend are Interzoo 2002, May 9-12 in >Nuremberg, Germany, and the American Pet Products Manufacturers >Association (APPMA) Trade Show, June 11-13 in Chicago, Illinois, >USA. Look us up if you're there. >Reef Check / MAQTRAC Update >As many in the MAC Network know, Reef Check is a non-profit >organization established to promote sustainable management of coral >reefs. Reef Check is based at UCLA and runs a volunteer coral reef >monitoring program in more than 50 countries. For the past two >years, Reef Check and MAC have been working as partners to help >ensure the marine aquarium trade is sustainable. As the MAC >Certification program is implemented around the world, it will be >important to have solid scientific data to demonstrate this success. >In January of this year, Reef Check released the beta version of >MAQTRAC, a new monitoring program specifically designed to track the >effects of fish and invertebrate harvesting from reefs. This >protocol is now being tested in Fiji, Indonesia and the Philippines >with good initial results. >Reef Check is frequently questioned about its support of the marine >aquarium trade. Reef Check believes this trade gives coral reefs >economic value that, over the long term, can help protect them. In >addition, a guiding principle of Reef Check is that private-sector, >win-win solutions need to play a much bigger role to ensure the >success of future reef conservation and management efforts on a >global scale. >In return for Reef Check's solid support for MAC and a sustainable >marine aquarium trade, it requests the support of home aquarium >owners, retailers, wholesalers and others in the global MAC Network. >Reef Check needs your help to get its message out to the public >about how they can become directly involved in sustainable coral >reef monitoring and management. If you would like to become a Reef >Check supporter or learn more about its programs, please check the >website at <http://www.reefcheck.org/>www.ReefCheck.org or contact >Reef Check Outreach Coordinator Kelly McGee at ><mailto:email@example.com>firstname.lastname@example.org. Together, we can all >ensure the long-term survival of coral reefs and the marine aquarium >trade. >See Your MAC Photos and Website Link Ideas on the MAC Website >We want our website to be as interesting and informative as possible >for you. Send us your photos to help us achieve this, and we will >use appropriate photos on the MAC website updates and credit the >photographers. We are also interested in acquiring broadcast quality >video footage. Last, but not least, let's look for ways to cross >link with your websites or sites you know about that are related to >MAC. However, our policy is to crosslink to industry sites of only >companies that have signed the MAC Statement of Commitment. >Interested individuals can contact us at ><mailto:email@example.com>firstname.lastname@example.org. >MAC in the News >In Print >'In Hot Water: Coral Reefs at Risk,' by Brian Lavendel, Animals, >Spring 2002. >'You Can Help Protect Ornamental Fish, Coral Reefs,' Focus, >March/April 2002. >'International Certification System for the Marine Aquarium Trade,' >Freshwater and Marine Aquarium, March 2002. >'Being Practical,' by Gary Cochran, Freshwater and Marine Aquarium, >March 2002. >'First Rate Fish,' by Dr. Robert J. Goldstein, Pet Age, March 2002. >'The Great Debate,' by Dave Garrett, Tropical Fish, March 2002. >Marine Ornamentals '01: Collection, Culture & Conservation,' by >Svein A. FossÃ¥, OFI Journal, Feb. 2002. >'MAC Certification Now Available to the Marine Ornamental Industry,' >by Paul Holthus, OFI Journal, Feb. 2002. >'OFI Commit to MAC,' OFI Journal, Feb. 2002. >'MAC Launches 'Best Practices' Certification System,' Pet Age, Feb. >2002. >'Notizie di Acquariofilia Internazionale,' a cura di John Dawes, >Hobby Zoo, Feb. 2002 (Italian). >'MAC Publica Sus Normas de CertificaciÃ³n,' la pÃ¥gina de John Dawes, >Animilia, Jan. 2002 (Spanish). >'MAC Introduces New Certification System,' Tropical Fish, Jan. 2002. >'Marine Ornamentals '01: Collection, Culture & Conservation,' tekst >og fotos: Svein A. FossÃ¥, PetScandinavia, Nr. 1-2002. >'Bruce Bunting, Vice President i World Wildlife Fund USA: 'Buy a >Fish, Buy a Coral, Save a Reef,' tekst og fotos: Svein A. FossÃ¥, >PetScandinavia, Nr. 1-2002. >On the Web >'WWF om Saltvannsindustrien,' ><http://www.nzb.no/nzb/nyhet.asp>http://www.nzb.no/nzb/nyhet.asp >'MAQTRAC Launch in Philippines,' ><http://www.reefcheck.org/newsletter3.htm>www.reefcheck.org/newsletter3.htm
MAC, the future of the trade, personal initiative re ppn/mac lots of talk and hot air with absolutely no action, looks like public notice to me, just like we had with live rock issue here in Florida. fortunately i merged my wild caught based business with ORA when i did, not many guys doing well since the cash cow closed (live rock) here in Florida. in my opinion it would be best to spend our collective positive energy growing all we can so there is a long term successful future for the aquarist yet to come. Jeff <A wise avenue to pursue. Bob Fenner>
Pet Product News Hi Bob, I decided to leave AMDA and get on to marketing my revolving aquariums. However I decided to give Marilyn Iturri, the editor of "Pet Products News" a heads up on the MAC situation first. She is interested in doing a story. I think they would be looking for truthful input on both sides of the issue. I have agreed to contribute to a story, but it would just be from my perspective as a 17-year retailer. I obviously have some concerns about MAC, but a good story should look at the issue from as many angles as possible. Would it be ok if I give her your e-mail as a possible contact for the story? <Yes> Australia? You dog. I spoke with Jeff Turner today and will say hello for you at PIDA. Regards, Mitch <Very well. Wish you and Jeff were going on the trip. Great to dive, chat with friends of similar interests, goals, values. Perhaps after Interzoo in May? (We're off to the Red Sea for a week). Will cc Jeff.T here. Bob Fenner>
FW: Re: Pet Product News Hi Marilyn, Bob Fenner, Is a well respected saltwater expert who regularly writes articles for FAMA (Fresh And Marine Aquarium) magazine ( and other publications) and has an excellent book published titled "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist". Please have someone contact him for his views on MAC. He has over 30-years experience in the industry. Regards, Mitch Gibbs PS The latest issue of FAMA has just come out with the same misleading press release that suggests MAC did feasibility tests on the 1% DOA/DAA and found them acceptable. To my knowledge no publication has ever given anyone a chance to explain that MAC might actually be dangerous to the marine industry. Both sides of the issues need to be discussed, and not just the one-sided spin MAC keeps putting out. MG <Agreed Mitch. Marilyn, please contact me if I may be of assistance, input. Bob Fenner, WetWebMedia>
US Coral Reef Act of 2000 Have any of you heard of or seen a copy of this? Allegedly, it was signed into law and puts into effective regulations which could ban the importation of marine ornamentals. I just would like to see a copy for myself. <Have only heard rumors of the draft, final... ala Billy Clinton... Don't think/consider this is that overall stupid. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Steven Pro
FW: Pre workshop meeting <I'll try to make it if invited (am not a signee, nor will be to the present document), and an "industry member"? Anywho Scott, let me know if you'd like me present. Bob F> Subject: Pre MAC workshop meeting This meeting is being call for all those who have signed the MAC Commitment letter, and all other industry members who would like to attend. The intent of this meeting is to gather, and solidify the current industry position on topics of concern regarding MAC Standards. The current MAC signees will attend a MAC workshop the following day to present the views. We will be having the pre workshop meeting at: Proud Bird Restaurant Thursday night, March 7th 7:00pm Dinner will be available (no, I'm not buying) Please let me know if you will be attending, so that I can make arrangements with the restaurant. It has also been suggested that all remain available that weekend if the need for an extension to the MAC meeting should arise, and to discuss topics from the meeting. Thank you for your quick response, Scott Scott D. Cohen Sea Dwelling Creatures, Inc. 5515 W. 104th St. Los Angeles, Ca 90045 310-676-9697 Phone 310-676-9699 Fax www.seadwelling.com
RE: Wholesaler/Importer group or Everyone? Bob, Please keep this email between you and I only. I'm just looking for different opinions. <Will do so> My concern with having a group with that involves retailers is their potential lack of knowledge regarding importing fish, including documents, acclimating, holding etc.. Most retailers have gained their experience by getting fish that have already been through the rigors of international travel. It is a different world at the store level in regards to the quality of fish. <Am sure, having been both these business functionaries, that retailers have a similar concern re the wholesale end of the biz... Do you understand them?> While we may not be aware of retail sales techniques, I feel that wholesalers are more closely effected by MAC standards as we are the first in the chain of custody after from collector. <Umm, I see all being potentially severely impacted... any cost you bear, must/will have to be passed on to them and in turn end-users> This is a tough call. I am sure that the same can be said about wholesalers, but I really don't want a retailer, who may have never received an overseas shipment, making any decisions for me regarding importation or holding requirements. It's like asking Northern California divers to tell you about their experiences with Catalina gobies. While they may be close to them in proximity, very few have had any first hand contact with them. It just wouldn't be right to have them involved in the decision making process. <I understand... this is all YOUR call; thank goodness, not mine.> We can liaise with AMDA, even better, AMDA can have a member represented in our group to stay informed. We, as wholesalers/Importer, need to support AMDA as a "sister" organization. We need to educate our customers to join AMDA. If AMDA should fail under the current board? <AMDA has long (always) been a lame duck... a paper horse... an organization in name alone... I can see, make an argument for both trying to "make one industry organization", two or more... I am not enamored of "joining" (have never been a member though a couple years back they supposedly made me an honorary one... never rec'd notice... typical) AMDA... as stated: they really don't exist... and their lack of participation in the past may well "hold back" any real enterprising association.> We'll have to deal with that if it arises. But, I think that if we support AMDA, and get their membership increased, the BOD will work itself out. Either views will change to represent the masses, or the BOD will change. <I agree> Let me know what you think. Thanks, Scott <Wish I know more, better to suggest here Scott... the trade is at a crux, moving into some sort of apparent crises... I don't see MAC as some sort of saviour here... They've been more a part of setting up the trade for what is coming... in part by their hand... intentionally in my book. I see you folks and the trade surviving, but becoming more "wards of the state" (paperwork, restrictions, taxes) in a much diminished industry. Bob Fenner>