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MAC extant folk, activities, and Halimeda use in SW systems   9/14/10
Hello. I was really disappointed to read on WWM about the shortcomings of MAC. Be this as it may, are there any other [more] worthy organizations with oversight over the marine aquarium trade?
<Actually, the person/s left who "are the MAC" are indeed capable and honest. Previous administrations were "but a farce">
I ask because I want to make sure that I'm only purchasing livestock caught via sustainable methods, and I would also like to contribute financially.
<I do concur with the direction/stance. There are several outfits with this position as well. Many can be found via Net searching. Two premiere examples bar none are TMC in the UK and Quality Marine in the US.>
Your opinion here would be greatly appreciated. Oh, I do have one technical question: Being that I don't have space in my sump for a refugium, would Halimeda be a good choice to keep in one's display for the purpose of nitrate reuptake?
<This genus can work... but does take a good deal of attention to maintaining/sustaining alkaline earth content (mainly calcium and magnesium) and alkalinity... as when it rapidly metabolises, it can/does take up a good deal of both. Please see WWM re this Chlorophytes use>
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

SAIA Website Update!!! Code of Best Practices Drafts online!!!!   8/5/09
Dear Friends and Supporters,
although you didn't hear from us by e-mail, SAIA was quite busy and made progress. Some of you we met in the meantime or talked to over the phone. However here some general news for all of you.
We invite you to visit the updated SAIA website www.saia-online.org to learn more about past, recent and future activities. Moreover we want to start the public review process of the first drafts of the SAIA Code of Best Practices. We hope for a lively discussion and encourage you to comment on the drafts. All comments will be recorded and addressed in the second drafts of the documents. Please contact us if you are interested to become the author of other technical documents.
SAIA experienced a lot of encouragement and interest. We are grateful for your support and want to thank all of you, who played an active roll in developing the organization.
We look forward to hearing from you.
Christiane & Frank
<Good to hear from you, see the progress made. Will share. Bob Fenner>
Christiane Schmidt

Mac certified fishes  1/29/09 Hi everyone, <Marie> I have some questions about MAC certification... I have a store, and was happy to make business with SDC and QM <Both fine companies... In fact, I visited both just yesterday> because they are MAC certified, and I could have fishes that were caught the right way, and everything. <In an ideal world...> The way I have understand this certification, I would have more healthy fishes so I decided that even if the fishes would cost more to the store because they were MAC certified to buy them anyway to "help" the environment and to be able to offer healthier fishes to my customers but I found this on your website : http://www.wetwebmedia.com/wwmadminsubwebindex/bizofbiz.htm There seem to have problems with this certification... and I'm not sure to understand why... could you explain to me why people would be against norms in the industry?? Thank you very much Marie <Mmm, to put into simple terms... the MAC folks have yet to produce any real net results... Other than taxing the industry, raising prices, there has been little more produced than double-talk, endless "PR" and changed directions... w/ precious little positive result... Millions of dollars of OPM and about a decade in time have passed, and "they've" managed to dismantle a good deal of previous efforts in detection, curtailing of cyanide use in the P.I.... Indeed, the practice is wider/has spread to other countries... And, you tell me... have you actually noted any real change in incidental mortality with this "certified" livestock? Both Quality and Sea Dwelling Creatures have excellent practices, high aspirations for MAC... I have yet to find that they have delivered a minimum in their pledges. Your input is appreciated. Bob Fenner>

Re: Mac certified fishes  1/29/09 Hi M. Fenner, thank you for your fast reply :o) I must say that I have better result (very few DOA, fishes eat only minutes after the acclimation, good shipping) with these companies but is it because they are MAC certified or just more qualified than other company I don't know. <Mmm, am wont to make any sort of staid statements here... Others have reported no difference in losses... but as we both have stated, you are dealing with the "A" players in the trade here...> The fishes cost me more with these 2 company but I have practically no DOA and the fishes always look good and healthy so I will continue with them for sure :o) <Outstanding. We are in full agreement re this purview, goal> thank you Marie <Thank you Marie. If there were time, interest, I would gladly re-state that my personal goals and those stated by prev. MAC officers are confluent... To provide useful ready information re the best organisms, their collection, shipping, handling... ultimate care... To help other countries assess their resources, manage them wisely... I try to do this by my humble writing, helping with our website efforts and presentations. Bob Fenner>

Re: Mac certified fishes  1/29/09 Hi again :o) <Marie> Well I certainly can say that I have less DOA, but I may be able to keep them more healthy than before, = less losses... When we first open our store we had a minimum experience in keeping fishes in a commercial system, <A harrowing experience... for sure. Is a shock to many new folks to the trade just how many animals are in trouble...> I read a lot and learn a lot (thanks to your website!) and then I ordered from SDW and then QM (Lorin who is my selling agent is soo nice!) so right now I have a way that work very well for me so I won't "test" again other companies <Great> I would love to speak with you in person! maybe at the next Interzoo :o) Marie <I look forward to this. Bob Fenner>

Majestic angel - MAC certified? 4/9/08 Hello Crew. <Steve> I have a 150 gallon reef tank that has been set up a little over 6 months ago. In this tank, so far, I have a medium yellow tang, a trio of small yellow tail blue damsels, a black cap Basslet as well as a medium tomato clown. I am planning on adding 2 more fish to my set up. A majestic angelfish and a blue jaw trigger. I know both (especially the angel) are risky in a reef, but I'm willing to move which ever corals they pick on and try new ones. Most of my corals are hardy leathers, mushrooms and polyps. It will be an experiment really. Also, I will only add the trigger 1-2 months after the angel and I will keep an eye on that yellow tang for aggression and if I have to, he'll go spend a week in the 30g refugium just to give the angel a chance to settle in and let him claim his own territory. Now, my question is regarding the angel. I contacted a fish dealer in my city (Ottawa, Ontario. Canada) and he told me he could get me a MAC certified majestic of the size I want from Indonesia. I asked for a 4" specimen. I know that it is generally not recommended to get fish, especially delicate fish, from Indonesia due to the way these fish are captured and handled, but what about MAC certified fish? Is it worth a try? Tell me what you think of this MAC certification? <... has proven to be a sham. The "mouth piece" of this organization had "high ideals"... at least in presentation... but in time, they've just gone on to tax the industry... indirectly stealing from the consumer... yes, you and I, w/o "adding value". I have chronicled the ongoing "improvement" to the marketing of this group (take a look at their site and the PR folks who run it...). Many good ideas advanced... NONE accomplished. The animals supplied by their "Certified" (i.e. paying) agencies/companies fare no better statistically than other non-certified sources. A shame and a scam> I've been keeping reef tanks for 2 years now which is not that much really, but I feel like I've gained enough experience to try something more challenging like the majestic angel. What do you guys think? Am I crazy? <Mmm, not crazy... and have been told that subgenus Euxiphipops angels from Bali (the minor Hindu enclave in the world's largest Muslim nation... Indo.) do exceptionally well... even at small sizes...> The fish will be quarantined for 3 weeks before being introduced to the main display. Finally, do you have any tips for me other than what I've read on your website which, of course, I love)? Thank you so much! Steve <Don't know what you know currently Steve... But I'd leave whatever specimen selected at your dealers for a week or two, assure that it's feeding... Bob Fenner>

Re: Majestic angel - MAC certified? 4/9/08 Thanks Bob, I appreciate your opinion and expertise (and fast response!!). <I do want to semi-apologize for my degree of rant here... re MAC... I REALLY do NOT like being lied to, robbed... and these people have done just this... and the general public and many other GO and NGO's have swallowed their line for so many years now... Thieves! Okay, I feel better... now about our federal gov't...@!> I contacted the retailer and passed on my concerns about MAC. I told him I would either get the majestic from him if collected from Australia OR chose a hardier specie. Any suggestions by the way? I want a showy fish that is medium-large in size(8-10" max) and that is mostly reef safe. It will reside in a 150 gallon reef tank. Thanks again! Steve <Will eventually outgrow this; but this is a few years down the line. Cheers! Bob Fenner>

Interesting Post by Lee Goldman (More MAC incompetence, thievery... is this part of the U.S. gov't?) -02/25/08 I saw this post by Lee Goldman on the coral-list serve today. I thought you might find it interesting... <Thank you for this. NOTE: This was not sent to me, nor WWM directly by the MAC nor Mr. Goldman. RMF> Dear List, In association with recent posts about the failure of MAC, clearly as an industry, we are no different from any industry whose success (or failure) is dictated by supply and demand. Education (at both the point of origin AND at the consumer end) is not inadequate and certainly does not lack passion and desire to see things right. So what caused the dismissal of conservation practices in Vanuatu (like so many other places)? Demand...from people who, I suspect, really don't care about what is going on (either they know and don't care or don't care enough to know - again at both the P of O, and a majority of the consumers). What's worse? How about every retail shop slapping a label on their corals saying they were 'aquacultured' with the highest level of coral conservation in practice. Easy words to say, hard to prove it's not as they say. So easily duped are so many people, hard to convince them otherwise. As someone who has spent many years developing what I believe to be a win-win situation (growing corals from larvae so that no existing coral colonies are harvested from the reef) I was motivated by the desire to see change within the industry. Living out in Micronesia and the Philippines for over 10 years, my approach was to include local business and sustainability so that jobs, money, and respect can be abundant in local communities. Alas, I am yet again frustrated by this recent news from Vanuatu. Although the aquarium trade is, at times, it's own worst enemy in the area of coral conservation, I know many people within the industry who are trying their best to educate and do the right thing. As we can see by the example posted today, we lost more ground... Regards, Lee Goldman Coral Farm Guam PO Box 6682 Tamuning, GU 96931 671.646.6744 Coralfarmguam@yahoo.com

Naso lituratus? Nah, and MAC  -- 1/26/08 Hello guys, I have a 120 gallon wave front reef tank with five green chromis and one purple tang. It used to have a yellow tang as well but the purple slowly killed the yellow over time (stress I assume). <In a word> Any way I have read through all the FAQ's on the Naso and it seems that the aggression can very <vary> from one to the other. <Mmm, yes> I have found a wonderful "blonde" Naso that is double or more in size than the purple so I am wondering with the size difference will he be OK in the tank? <Perhaps... but this tank will be too small for this species> There is a good amount of live rock and caves in there and the tank is very deep. Also the Naso is MAC certified. <Meaning? They collected/stole some money "through the system", ultimately from you... only> Thanks so much for your input. Chris Abegglen <Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Net caught fish from Filipinos increasing w/out MAC  9/9/06 There is an embarrassment of riches being produced now by Filipino net caught divers worldwide without MACs permission. Net trained Filipinos not trained, aligned or inspired by the MAC produce the following conservatively; Tonga 200 boxes a week Vanuatu 100 boxes a week Belize 100 boxes a week <Really? I wonder where, for whom?> Saudi Arabia 100 boxes a week Inside the Philippines 100 + boxes a week That's... 600 boxes a week Steve <Robinson> ps. If you add MACs 15 boxes a week  the total is now 615 boxes a week of net caught fishes! Alas...if only they pulled their weight and helped us out in this movement we could <end of msg.> <MAC is a scam Steve... PaulH is a shyster... My first, current and last opinion. Bob Fenner>

MAC and PHOTOS ... Lead, follow, or best, get out of the way  6/22/06 La Colle sur Loup, le 22 Juin 2006 To whom it may concern, <Bonjour> I contact you as our organization the Marine Aquarium Council (MAC) is in the process of developing a technical tool, and would like to receive your authorization to insert some of the photos your website presents to illustrate this technical document. <Am very familiar with MAC and their programs...> Indeed, we are in the process of developing a MOID (MAC Organisms Identification) system in order to facilitate the communications among the different level of the marine ornamental trade. It aims on coding MAC Certified organisms as numbers, in order to facilitate their respective naming and exchange in verbal or in text messages communications, as in the marine ornamental trade scientific names are too long to be used. Moreover, supply and demand side often face communication problems as they use different common or even scientific names for the same organism. Thus the MOID will help to facilitate their communication. <One would hope> In order to develop this system, we would like to accompany each marine ornamental species by a photo, as pictures will help mainly collectors/fishermen to identify species. Please find enclosed a list of the photos we would like to insert in this technical document. If you are not familiar with our organization, the Marine Aquarium Council (MAC) is an international, multi-stakeholder, not-for-profit, non-governmental organization. It brings together conservation organizations, the aquarium industry, public aquariums, hobbyist groups and government agencies to ensure the marine aquarium trade is responsible and sustainable. MAC's mission is "to conserve coral reefs and other marine ecosystems by creating standards and certification for those engaged in the collection and care of ornamental marine life from reef to aquarium." MAC accomplishes its mission through the following activities: *         Establishing independent certification of best practice standards; *         Raising public awareness of the conservation role of the marine aquarium industry and hobbyists; *         Providing objective, accurate data on the marine ornamental trade; *         Promoting the sustainable use of coral reefs and other marine ecosystems though the responsible collection of marine ornamental life; *         Ensuring the health and quality of marine ornamental life through responsible collection, handling and transporting practices; and *         Encouraging responsible husbandry through education and training. Please find enclosed a MAC background file, as well as an international Standard FAQ. Looking forward to hearing from you soon Very best regards Nathalie <Actually, after several years now of spending several million dollars of OPM, the MAC has done little of what they've trumpeted as their "goals" other than to re-state them, change and add to them over these many years... As a stated "non-profit" you are welcome to the use of my image work... as you may find on WWM or other image site WetWebFotos.com Please see these re what you seek and communicate back. Bob Fenner> Nathalie GAMAIN Marine Aquarium Council Communications Director Email:   <mailto:nathalie.gamain@aquariumcouncil.org> nathalie.gamain@aquariumcouncil.org Website:www.aquariumcouncil.org Ph: 33 6 64 70 34 14 INTERNATIONAL/USA:  923 Nu'uanu Ave, Honolulu, Hawai'i, 96817, USA Ph: +1 808 550-8217; Fax: +1 808 550-8317 EUROPE/UK: 43 St. Giles, Oxford, OX1 3LW, UK    Ph: +44 1865 516 695; Fax: +44 1865 516695 PHILIPPINES:  6/F, Salustiana D. Ty Tower, 104 Paseo de Roxas, Makati City, Philippines    Ph: +63 2 893-7252; Fax: +63 2 817-9541 INDONESIA:  Jl. Pengembak no. 1, Sanur, Bali 80228, Indonesia    Ph: +62 361 285 297/ 285 299; Fax: +62 361 286 383 PACIFIC/FIJI:  P. O. Box S23, MH Superfresh, Tamavua, Suva, Fiji   Ph. 679 3595933; Fax 679 3392764 The information contained in or attached to this e-mail is confidential and may be subject to legal privilege. Access to this e-mail by anyone other than the intended recipient(s) is unauthorized. If you are not the intended recipient, you must not use, copy, distribute or disclose the e-mail or any part of its contents or take any action in reliance on it. If you have received this e-mail in error please notify us immediately by e-mail or telephone. The Marine Aquarium Council reserves the right to monitor the content of the message and any reply received Re: MAC and PHOTOS   6/23/06 LA Colle sur Loup, le 23 Juin 2006 Dear Bob Thanks for your answer, and for providing our organization the opportunity to insert some of your photos within this technical document. We appreciate your collaboration and support Very best regards Nathalie <I am very much in support of the principles, goals stated. Thank you for your efforts. Bob Fenner> Nathalie GAMAIN Marine Aquarium Council Communications Director Why did Marine Fauna not seek  recertification with MAC?   1/30/06 <Steve... is MAC pertinent at all... really... let PaulH go steal from someone else. BobF> Some visitors of the MAC website may have noticed that  Marine Fauna (MF) is not listed as certified exporter since August 2005. MF  was approached by MAC for recertification but we feel that in the current  situation MAC has to work out substantial aspects of its program in order  to raise the certification status to an attractive level. In the following  we share a short summary of the reasons why the management of MF decided  not to seek recertification at this point of time:       *   MAC certified fish supply is limited to the  following species: Mandarin, Banded sharks and their eggs, Tomato,  Maroon, Percula, Chelmon and every two to three months a single blue  face angel. According to our export data, the amount of MAC certified  fish is by number 2 to 4 % of our total animal sale, despite the fact  that we try to satisfy our orders with exclusively MAC certified fish.        *   We were promised by MAC that the situation will change in  favor of higher and more diverse supply by the middle of 2004 which did  not.       *   Currently, we can't comply with the minimum  traceability requirement of MAC to identify any supplied MAC certified  fish by an individual collector. So far we received from our  supplier in Batasan only the number of individuals of a single species,  the different collectors' IDs and the entire batch together in a bag  (Mandarin), or in individual plastic bags (Chelmon) but without  individual identification number of the respective collector.       *   We do not feel that the individual collectors' identity  must be with each fish. We consider it as sufficient enough, to be able  to trace any batch of fishes back to a group of collectors at a  definite to trace back any problems through the entire chain of custody.  However, it's a core requirement and we can't be certified unless  this is changed (core requirements have to be met for certification  according to the MAC Standards). It is surprising to us that Batasan  passed recertification without satisfying this minimum traceability  requirement.       *   Our DOA and DAA reports from importers as well as our own  DOA and DAA in the facility reduce the number of MAC certified fish  saleable as such to 0.2 to 0.4% of our entire animal sales because of  exceeding the cumulative and added DOA mortality allowance for MAC  certified fish. Unfortunately, the availability of data from other  certified exporters have not been accessible yet, despite several  announcements by MAC in the past, so we can't compare our actual  standing regarding DOA and DAA with other exporters.       *   MAC does not differentiate DOA and DAA between species  that ship easily (e.g. Mandarin) and species that ship usually  with higher DOA (e.g. Wrasses).       *   The feedback of certified importers does not allow us  to record data as required. Feedback is sometimes a single sentence  such as "good shipment" or "very few DOA only".       *   We have experienced, that the transport starting  from the moment the shipment is turned over to the cargo section of the  airline until such time that the client receives the cargo from the  customs in the importing country, must have a major impact on the DOA  and DAA of the shipment. We had shipments ranging from 0 DOA up to  40% DOA. The suppliers and our handling and packing standards have been  both the same for extremely different shipments. This fact is not  considered in the MAC mortality allowance.       *   In the past we have been asked frequently about the  sustainability in the trade mandated by MAC. So far we couldn't  answer the questions and we believe that MAC needs urgently to come up  with data to prove sustainability of the collection areas. So far all  fish ordered will be caught.       *   In the certification assessment the exporter is asked  about how he is ensuring that the MAC label packs are not used by  unauthorized users. This is ridiculous because the MAC label packs  have been promised for 2 years now, but were never received.       *   The paper work required for documentation is far too  much and we feel it's overdone, particularly considering the lacking  availability of MAC certified fish. We strongly propose to trim down the  documentation to minimum core documentation and probably a very limited  set of docs. Documentation of staff training records, equipment  maintenance plans, calibration of measuring devices etc. is in the  foremost interest of the exporter and shouldn't need MAC control.       *   Communication of MAC with certified exporters is  unsatisfactory. No direct written information is provided to  certified parties about new certifications (except biannual webpage  corrections), updates, events etc. The newsletter from the email MAC  subscription is more for public information and can't replace the direct  communication with certified parties. For instance, Marine Fauna learned  from the webpage of MAC that it is not listed under the certified  exporters anymore.       *   The number of MAC certified importers is far below the  predicted goals of MAC. Feedback from companies who turned down the  certification can be grouped into the following criticism: impractical  documentation, MAC fish is not healthier than other fish from good  exporters, DOA and DAA values are arbitrary figures without scientific  basis, few MAC fish available only, expensive certification and no  visible market advantage with MAC fish. Despite the issues above we are still supportive of the  initial MAC certification program. Currently, there is a striking  mismatch between the required commitment to the MAC certification and the  actual advantages of MAC. MF management has decided to wait with the  application for recertification until the issues mentioned above are  solved.   Follow on... <Steve... is MAC pertinent at all... really... let PaulH go steal  from someone else. BobF> Bob, But...They have money to last and not produce. <Money taken under false pretenses...> Pauls blaming it all on others and the string of firings have left no one from before except John Brandt. <John should stick to wiping down tanks> He and Dave Vossler both want Pauls job...but want others to do the  hatchet job on Paul. No hatchet job needed. The record speaks for itself. Vegas should be interesting. Steve PS Being right all along about this was easy. And Pauls enemies list...w/  lots of ex-MAC people is long. <All so predictable... I do hope that Clint Eastwood lives long enough to add one more "spaghetti western" movie/play of this nonsense. Cheers, Bob Fenner> Please post on Wet-Web Media (from RDO) Re: Cyanide use in the pet-fish interest 1/8/06 <Will do Peter. Thanks for sending it along. BobF> "Cyanide velly good, it how you use it!" I heard this a few years ago at one of the initial MAC meetings in LA and still remember it vividly. It was said by one of the guys from Indo, I wish I could remember his last name or still had his card. - JT Back to top          Cortez marine {squat} Joined: 15 Nov 2001 Posts: 1979 Location: San Jose, Calif. Posted: Sat Jan 07, 2006 3:41 am    Post subject: drinks and lunch   JT, I had drinks w/ that guy and Barnett of Global. He was hilarious and very self convinced. He was proud of the greater skill as he put it of Indonesian cyanide fishers over the Filipinos. Then, the next hour I remember lunch w/ PIJAC and Holthus of MAC. Even more surreal. Steve Back to top           Boy, I'm glad no pics were taken of me. Steve, is it Rudy Batara that I am thinking of? - JT Back to top          JT Reefkeeper Joined: 03 Feb 2000 Posts: 452 Location: Turn Around ;-) Posted: Sat Jan 07, 2006 6:01 pm    Post subject:    On second thought, maybe that's not who it was. I think it was Rudy somebody though.... - JT PS-JT had the name right, Rudy Batara is the Indonesian who was at the meeting in Los Angeles (although I was not there). It is alleged that he distributes cyanide to collectors in metal kerosene cans. Since, sodium cyanide does not dissolve in either gasoline or kerosene, cyanide tablets are commonly smuggled to villages in containers with these fuels. This explains why Bob Fenner noted that cyanide squirt bottles he observed in Indonesia smelled of kerosene (see the comment in his paper in the Conscientious Marine Aquarists). In any event, there is nothing "very good" about cyanide, and its use for cyanide fishing needs to be stopped NOW. Let's stop tolerating its use. The only valid question should be "What is the best way to stop the distribution and sale of cyanide to collectors, and how do we get the collectors to stop using it?" Peter Rubec

You were right Bob... lying, thievery - 01/03/2006 Bob, You had it all figured out. Go over to reefs.org and read the thread about the Tide Center and CCIF. It is on the industry forum. Mitch <Thanks much for this Mitch... did return your phone call re... Sigh: http://www.reefs.org/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=79732 You're spot on... I do hope these folks "skirting the tax law" at least works them woe with the IRS... Bob Fenner> Mitch Gibbs

Marineland orchestration of MACNA events? Hey Bob, Loved your talk at MACNA. Too bad it will always be remembered as the one where Anthony became a martyr. <Hee hee! His fave role!> After dealing with Ron Wishna, I can well understand how it all happened  but now I hear increasingly that Marineland may have had a hand in pulling the   puppetstrings of Wishna. <I did hear summat re this... but discount the possibility seriously>        If this is true, then the precedent is  disturbing. The CENTRAL...[cough..] PET-ization of the trade would make a   standardization that would serve to squelch independents and promote a Home  Depot/Wal-Mart style uniformity. <Nah, doubtful... the trade and ready reserve which is the aquarists themselves are too "independent"... we'd have a few "Bob Sherman's" (the founder of Marineland) come forward and dust off the corporate rogues>         The independent speakers may not  see it this way.     Was it really just personal or was Ron making serious  money by serving in the interest of larger players? What do you think? Sincerely, <I really think RonW is a business/show coordinator who sees some sort of income/future from his involvement in shows, but is sadly lacking in knowledge, expertise re the hobby, business of ornamental aquatics... I suspect his time is done. Bob Fenner> Steve  Robinson _www.cortezmarine.com_ ( http://www.cortezmarine.com) PS The MAC / MAMTI / REEFCHECK/ PACKARD mob to rule the livestock  world is already a fact and the funding already approved to push it. Dry  goods as well? <No doubt here. Bob F>

MARINE AQUARIUM COUNCIL International Certification for the Quality and Sustainability of Marine Aquarium Organisms '¦ from Reef to Retail MAC News - 4th Quarter 2003 Director's Note: -MAC Certification starts at the reef. It is only natural, therefore, that our single largest operational focus by far involves building the capacity of collectors and their communities to achieve certification in relation to resource management and use. In doing so, we increase the amount of MAC Certified supply and achieve the associated results of coral reef management and conservation. Working with the collectors and their communities requires patience and understanding, as the process is complex and time-consuming. Community interaction to develop management plans must be facilitated. The training and skills development of fishers in net collecting and post-harvest handling must be ensured.  While it is frustrating that a large supply of MAC Certified marine ornamentals is not immediately available, this supply will grow rapidly.   MAC spent much of 2003 locating the resources for improving and expanding MAC supply side activities. As we report below, these preparatory efforts are paying off. Significant new supply is available, and major new MAC Certified supply development projects have been launched.- Supply of MAC Certified Organisms Boosted with First MAC Certification in the Pacific  In December 2003 Walt Smith International (WSI) in Fiji was successfully assessed against all three MAC Core Standards: Ecosystem and Fishery Management (EFM); Collection, Fishing and Holding (CFH); and Handling, Husbandry and Transport (HHT). WSI is the first MAC Certification in the Pacific. The company's certification includes four collection areas managed under a traditional custodial ownership structure. This type of reef management is common in Fiji and substantial parts of the Pacific. The collectors operating in these areas have been certified, as has the export facility. The certification of WSI collection areas, collectors and facilities increases dramatically the availability and diversity of MAC Certified supply. Many of the fish species, invertebrates and corals will be available with MAC Certified status for the first time.  Progress towards More MAC Certified Supply from the Pacific Companies in a number of Pacific Island countries are increasingly interested in becoming MAC Certified. A second company in Fiji and one in Vanuatu are preparing to be assessed for certification during the first quarter of 2004. In Kiribati, MAC was a key participant in a major workshop on sustainable marine aquarium fisheries for Christmas Island that involved all the island's collection and export operations, as well as government officials and international experts. MAC efforts are also continuing or beginning in the Solomon Islands and Tonga.  Work Underway in 21 Villages to Prepare North Bali, Indonesia, for MAC Certification MAC and its non-government organization (NGO) partners are working in 21 villages to develop collection area management plans (CAMPs) in two sub-districts in north Bali, Indonesia. Resort owners who were previously opposed to the ongoing collection of fish for the aquarium trade near their resorts now also want to play an active role in CAMP development by supporting the establishment of resource management plans. Several exporters and importers visited the fishermen working in these areas and expressed interest in buying fish from them when the fisheries can verify that they are responsible and well managed.  Post-harvest training will be conducted with support from the exporters, starting in mid February. MAC's NGO partners are facilitating the establishment of two fishermen's associations in the area. These two groups of fishermen are interested in adopting the MAC Standards and working with MAC and its NGO partners to achieve certification.   MAC Philippines to Prepare Multiple Areas and Collectors Groups for Certification in 2004 and Beyond with USAID Support MAC's efforts to build the capacity of collectors and their communities in the Philippines to prepare for MAC Certification received a major boost with the recent awarding of a three-year grant from the Global Development Alliance program of the US Agency for International Development (USAID). Key outputs will be an increase in not only supply of MAC Certified marine ornamentals but also coral reef areas under management and zoned for conservation. To get the project underway, the MAC Philippines office convened a workshop in late 2003 in Manila to review and plan MAC's efforts. Reef Check, which assists in the resource and fishery assessment and monitoring of collection sites, participated in the discussions. A work plan for 2004 and an overall implementation plan for MAC activities in the Philippines were developed. To further meet the objectives of the USAID-supported program, MAC hired Vince Adajar to fill the critical position of MAC Supply Development Manager (SDM) in an acting capacity. A veteran field operations practitioner, Vince has more than 12 years experience in community-based coastal resource management. His primary responsibilities are to identify, select and develop new sources of MAC Certified marine ornamentals.  Hawaii Collectors Commit to Becoming MAC Certified In November and December 2003, MAC and the marine ornamentals collectors and wholesalers in Kailua-Kona held discussions on the island of Hawaii.  Mark Schreffler of The Reef Shop (MAC Certified retailer) attended one of the sessions and gave a presentation on his experience in preparing for MAC Certification. Interest in becoming MAC Certified has grown strongly in 2003 among the collectors and wholesalers, and a number of them have submitted Statements of Commitment signaling their intent to pursue MAC Certification.  New Certification Update Service for MAC Certified Companies to Be Launched in March 2004 A new quarterly newsletter will be launched in March 2004 for those that are MAC Certified (i.e., certified companies, collectors groups and those responsible for the EFM certification, such as Collection Area Management Plan committees) and for MAC Accredited certifiers. The MAC Certification Update will communicate adjustments and interpretations to the MAC Standards, feature requirements of certification and explain them in detail, and post projected increases in the supply of MAC Certified organisms and industry participants to facilitate the effective implementation of MAC Certification across the chain of custody. There will also be a Q&A section. Those who are MAC Certified are encouraged to email suggestions for the first issue to update@aquariumcouncil.org <mailto:update@aquariumcouncil.org> MAC Public Awareness Campaign Successful Around the Globe  What do the US television program The Ellen Degeneres Show, the international travel magazine Condé Nast, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and the US Embassy in Tokyo have in common? They were among the many outlets that raised public awareness about MAC as the Disney-Pixar film Finding Nemo opened in theatres worldwide and was released on DVD. The MAC public awareness campaign's success was due in part to MAC partnerships with the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and its World Conservation Monitoring Centre as well as with the young actor Alexander Gould (the voice of Nemo). Alexander has been promoting MAC during media interviews since he and his family became aware of MAC at the Hollywood premiere of the film in May 2003. MAC press releases were customized and translated for Dutch, French and German audiences as the film opened in Europe. During November, Alexander continued his support of MAC by narrating a public service announcement (PSA) that promotes MAC Certification. Director Dirk Hagen volunteered his services during the videotaping of the PSA in Honolulu.  More MAC Outreach and Education MAC Director of Americas and the Pacific David Vosseler staffed the MAC exhibit booth at the 37th Annual Pet Industry Christmas Trade Show, Oct. 10-12, 2003, in Chicago, Illinois (USA). Thirty-five retailers signed up for the MAC News. Most of them expressed interest in becoming MAC Certified.   MAC Certification Systems Director Peter Scott, MAC Board Members John Dawes and Lolita Ty and MAC European Liaison Director Svein Fossa attended Aquarama 2003, in Singapore, Oct. 30 to Nov. 2, 2003.Peter responded to significant interest in MAC from many of the visitors to the show and conference, which featured 199 display booths from 23 countries. MAC Director of Americas and the Pacific David Vosseler gave a presentation on MAC followed by a question and answer period at a joint Cleveland Aquarium Society (CSA) and Cleveland Society of Enthusiastic Aquarists (C-SEA) meeting on Nov. 14, 2003.  About 50 members were in attendance. MAC Executive Director Paul Holthus was an invited participant at the China Recreational Fisheries and Aquarium Congress, Nov. 19-23, 2003, in Shenzhen, China. Paul gave a presentation entitled 'Progress in Implementing MAC Certification for the Global Marine Aquarium Trade.'  Representatives of China's marine aquarium industry responded with substantial interest in the MAC Standards and Certification.  The organization Support to Regional Aquatic Resources Management (STREAM) held a weeklong Workshop on Livelihoods Approaches and Analysis, Nov. 24-28, 2003, in Iloilo City, Philippines. MAC Philippines Program Officer Isabelle Cruz and MAC Community Organizer Monica Piquero attended the workshop, at the invitation of STREAM Director Graham Haylor. Organized by the Philippines Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), the workshop is an activity within a United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)--funded Technical Cooperation Program (TCP).    Upcoming Events: March 2-4: Marine Ornamentals 2004 (Honolulu, Hawaii, USA) with plenary presentations by MAC Board Members Marshall Meyers and John Brandt and MAC Executive Director Paul Holthus; informal review of first draft working paper of the MAC Standard for the aquaculture of marine ornamentals; session on MAC Certification; and MAC exhibit booth. http://www.hawaiiaquaculture.org/marineornamentals04.html March 17-19: America Pet Product Manufacturer's Association 46th Annual Pet Products Trade Show (New Orleans, Louisiana, USA) with MAC Americas and the Pacific Director David Vosseler at the MAC exhibit booth. http://www.appma.org/trade_show/trade_show_overview.asp April 16-18, 2004: 16th Annual Pet Industry Spring Trade Show (Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA) with presentation on MAC Certification by MAC Americas and the Pacific Director David Vosseler and MAC Certified retailer Patrick Donston and the MAC exhibit booth.   http://www.hhbacker.com/  May 13-16: InterZoo 2004 (Nurnberg, Germany)  http://www.wwpsa.com/i4a/calendar/details.cfm?id=147 June 4-6:Second International Marine Aquarium Conference (Chicago, Illinois, USA)  http://www.theimac.org/ July 18-22: National Marine Educators Association 2004 Conference (St. Petersburg, Florida, USA) http://www.floridamarine.org/education/category_main.asp?id=2088 Sept. 9-12: China International Recreation Fisheries and Aquaria 2004 Conference (Guangzhou Jinhan Exhibition Center, Beijing, China) Email:  csfish@agri.gov.cn <mailto:csfish@agri.gov.cn> Sept. 10-12: Marine Aquarium Conference of North America XVI (Boston, Massachusetts, USA) http://www.macnaboston.com/ Sept. 22-23: SuperZoo (Las Vegas, Nevada, USA)  http://www.wwpsacom/i4a/forms/form.cfm?id=41 http://www.wwpsa.com/i4a/forms/form.cfm?id=41> Oct. 8-10: Backer's 37th Annual Pet Industry Christmas Trade Show and Educational Conference (Chicago, Illinois, USA)  http://www.hhbacker.com/ Dec. 5-10: Sixth International Aquarium Congress (Monterey, California, USA)  http://ww.iac2004.org/ MAC in Publications and the News  Wood, Elizabeth and Nick Dakin. 2003. The Responsible Marine Aquarist.  Ross-on-Rye, UK: Marine Conservation Society.  http://www.mcsuk.org/ 'Coral Reef Conservation in the Indo-Pacific,' by Sylvia Spalding et al. Dream Marine. pp 20-21. In Tropical Fish Hobbyist. December 2003. 'Dutch Company is First in Europe to Receive MAC Certification.' PETS International Magazine. December 2003. p 7. 'Media Review: From Ocean to Aquarium,' by Doug Robbins. Advanced Aquarist's Online Magazine. December 2003. http://www.advancedaquarist.com/ 'Segrest Farms, Retailers Earn MAC Status.' Pet Product News. December 2003. p 7. 'Stunning Nemo,' by Byron Wertz. Vice, vol. 10, no. 11.  http://www.viceland.com/ 'To Conserve and Protect,' by Jennifer Martin. PET AGE. December 2003. pp 16, 18-20. 'United Nations Sees Sustainable Marine Harvesting,' by Maryann Mott.  Pet Product News. December 2003. p 12. 'Zertifikate für einen zuverlässigen, ethisch vertretbaren Handel mit Tieren für das Meerwasseraquarium,' by Paul Holthus and Svein A. FossÃ¥. BNA-aktuell. 2003 (2 and 3). pp 17-21. [In German] 'Palawan bolsters campaign versus cyanide fishing.' Inquirer News Service (Manila Time). Dec. 15, 2003. http://www.inq7.net/ 'How Much Is That Fishy in the Window?: How the Aquarium Trade Affects Coral Reefs,' by Amy Gulick. Dive Training. November 2003. pp 93-97. 'Le monde de Nemo.' Aquarium Magazine. November 2003. p 4. [In French] 'Nemo for Real,' by Manuela Hoelterhoff. Condé Nast. November 2003. p148. 'Le Monde de Nemo Se Meurt.' La Figaro. Nov. 27, 2003. http://actu.dna.fr/031127075744.4hjzn10q.html [In French] 'TV 5.org.' Nov. 27, 2003. http://www.tv5.org/TV5Site/info/afp_article.php?rub=sci&idArticle=031127075744.4hjzn10q.xml http://www.tv5.org/TV5Site/info/afp_article.php?rub=sci&idArticle=031127075744.4hjzn10q.xml>  [In French] 'Is Your Aquarium Fish Cyanide-Caught?' by Terrie B. Fucanan. The Sunday Times. Nov. 23, 2003. http://www.manilatimes.net/ The Ellen Degeneres Show. Nov. 7, 2003. Boot Portal (Boot.com) http://www4.boot.de/cipp/md_boot/custom/pub/content,lang,2/ticket,g_u_e_s_t/oid,7780 'Film Fans Warned Don't Flush the Fish' with UK Launch of Finding Nemo.' Talking Pix. http://www.talkingpix.co.uk/ReviewsFindingNemo.htm 'From Ocean to Aquaria: The Trade in Marine Ornamentals Worldwide,' by Colette Wabnitz. OFI Journal. October 2003. pp 26-32. 'More Industry Members Join the Global Effort for a Sustainable Trade,' by Paul Holthus. OFI Journal. October 2003. pp 10-13. 'Too Many Aquarius in the Houses.' http://digilander.libero.it/gruppoambiente/acquari.htm [translated from Italian by Google] 'Trade in Aquarium Fish Becoming Sustainable Industry.' US Embassy, Tokyo, Japan. http://usembassy.state.gov/tokyo/wwwh20031003a9.html 'UN Urges Balance Between Economy and Conservation in Tropical Fish Trade.' UN News Centre. 'Wise Practices Help Save Jakarta Bay.' WiCoP Forum. http://www.csiwisepractices.org/ [Adapted from an article by Kalinga Seneviratne in CyberDyaryo. July 25, 2003.] 'Keeping Nemo Not Child's Play.' Middlesbrough Evening Gazette (UK).  Oct. 20, 2003. BBC Newsround. Oct. 16, 2003. 'Nemo Makes Aquarium Hobby the Hot Ticket.' Yahoo! Finance. Oct. 13, 2003.  http://biz.yahoo.com/ BBC Radio. Oct. 10, 2003. UN Radio. Oct. 7, 2003. http://wwwun.org/av/radio/news/2003/oct/03100700.htm http://www.un.org/av/radio/news/2003/oct/03100700.htm 'Losing Nemo,' by Tan Cheng Li. The Star (Malaysia). Oct. 6, 2003. http://www.thestar.com.my/lifestyle/story.asp?file=/2003/10/7/features/6408315&sec=features http://www.thestar.com.my/lifestyle/story.asp?file=/2003/10/7/features/6408315&sec=features 'Scientists Turn Spotlight on Threats and Opportunities of Booming '¦'Earthvision. Oct. 3, 2003. 'Threats and Opportunities in the Booming Marine Aquaria Trade.' People & the Planet. Oct. 3, 2003. http://www.peopleandplanet.net/doc.php?id=2057 'Don't 'Flush' is the Warning as Nemo Goes Worldwide.' Henderson Gleaner (Kentucky, USA). Oct. 1, 2003. ''Finding Nemo' Around the U-Bend.' Zap2it.com. Oct. 1, 2003.  'Fish Hobbyists Warned Not to Flush Pets,' by Joseph B. Verrengia. Yahoo News, Oct. 1, 2003. [Also in Grand Forks Herald (ND); Belleville News-Democrat (IL); Times Picayune (LA); Centre Daily Times (PA); ABC News; CTV (Canada).] Fish Update.com. Oct. 1, 2003.  'Flushing Nemo.' Empire Online. Oct. 1, 2003. 'Flushing Nemo.' Practical Fishing Keeping. Oct. 1, 2003. http://www.practicalfishkeeping.co.uk/pfk/pages/item.php?news=95 'Flushing Nemo.' Straits Times (Singapore). Oct. 1, 2003. 'Grabbing the Headlines.' Salt Lake Tribune (UT). Oct. 1, 2003. 'Nemo' Prompts Worldwide Fish-Flushing.' NBC Sandiego.com (CA). Oct. 1, 2003. [Also in WISC, WI; WBAL Channel.com, MD; NBC 11.com, CA; NBC4.TV, CA; CBC News, Canada; NBC 17.com, NC; ClickonSA.com, TX; Milwaukee Channel.com, WI; INDYchannel.com, IN; KMGH, CO; Hawaii Channel.com, HI; NewsNet5.com, OH; Local6.com, FL] 'Ikke Trekk ned Gullfisken,' by Jan Thoresen. Oct. 1, 2003. http://www.dagbladet.no/kunnskap/2003/10/01/379856.html 'Scientists Turn Spotlight on Threats and Opportunities of Booming '¦' Environmental News Network (CA). Oct 1, 2003. 'Tropical Fish Trade Threatens Coral Reefs.' PFP SeaSpan. October 2003. http://www.pewmarine.org/ 'Tropical Fish Trade Under Spotlight as Sales Boom.' Oct. 1, 2003. http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/22421/story.htm 'Tropical Fish Trade Under Spotlight as Sales Boom' Environmental News Network. Oct 1, 2003. http://www.enn.com/news/2003-10-01/s_8977.asp 'Troppi Acquari Tropicali: In Pericolo l'Ecosistema.' Corriere della Sera. Oct. 1, 2003. http://www.corriere.it/Primo_Piano/Cronache/2003/10_Ottobre/01/acquari.shtml [In Italian] '20 Million Tropical Fish Harvested Annually,' by John von Radowitz. Press Association. Oct. 1, 2003. 'Losing Nemo: Hunt for Tropical Fish Is Hurting Habitat.' USA Today. Sept. 30, 2003

An oldie but an important point, We do affect our environment! Here is a link to a news story found today on Yahoo (via Reuters) about the pet fish industry. The link and the story are below, plus I added other related links. Whether you agree with the information, numbers, or who is behind the study, is nebulous. The point being made is important and should promote thought and action. We do impact the environment around us! Go figure! http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/nm/20030930/sc_nm/environment _fish_dc_2 PARIS (Reuters) - The capture and trade in more than 20 million tropical fish for aquariums each year earns cash for poor fishing communities but too often sends the fish to their deaths, a U.N. report said Tuesday. The trade in aquarium creatures is worth up to $330 million a year, the U.N. Environment Program's World Conservation Monitoring Center's report "From Ocean to Aquarium" said. "Some fish are completely unsuitable to aquariums," said Ed Green, one of the report's authors, adding mishandling of the rare fish often started very early in the supply chain. "Some fish are just treated as disposable commodities, exposed to the sunlight for hours after being caught and stored in plastic bags on their long journey from Southeast Asian reefs to aquariums in North America and Europe," he told Reuters. He said there was no indication that the aquarium trade was threatening any species with extinction, although some harvesting methods, like stunning the fish with a near-lethal dose of sodium cyanide, could harm both fish and coral reefs. About 50,000 people in Sri Lanka are directly involved in the export of marine life, a business which also provides a strong incentive to preserve fish stocks and reef environments. The report recommends the wider application of certification schemes by the Marine Aquarium Council (MAC), an international not-for-profit organization. Green said parents buying fish for their children should also pay more attention to their origin. The sale of clown fish shot up this year because of the movie "Finding Nemo," a computer-animated tale of a clown fish who ends up in a dentist's aquarium. "Nemo has created interest but also led to problems," said Green, adding many children had flushed fish down the toilet in an effort to send them back to the sea and parents had placed clown fish in fresh water boxes. Other references: http://www.unep.org/Documents.Multilingual/Default.asp?ArticleID=4259&Docume ntID=332&l=en http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2003/05/0530_030530_nemo1.html http://www.tracc.00server.com/Fisheries/cyanide/cyanide_index.html http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/3151384.stm Peace to all, Paul Mansur <Thanks for this Paul. Mary.M sent a bunch along re this... will post your input along with hers. Bob F>

Link to the full UN report Date: Tue, 30 Sep 2003 14:50:39 -0700 http://www.unep.org/Documents.Multilingual/Default.asp?ArticleID=4259&DocumentID=332&l=en <Thanks Mary. Bob Fenner>

RE: Important News for the Aquarium Trade Date: Tue, 30 Sep 2003 14:16:54 -0700 Bob, I didn't think the ad was too bad...actually better than most I have read. Did you take the article to read very negatively? Eric (Cohen, SDC) <Mmm, more "middling"... it could be taken/used either way. I really don't like the continuing misreporting by Edmund Green re the amount of live coral used in the trade (12 million pieces annually?) that comes directly from the studies done putting together the "World Trade in Coral" by the WCMC... and I do heartily wish these same folks would say "something positive" re the good the trade does, the huge efforts at captive propagation...  Anyhow, my thoughts/feelings, Bob Fenner>

Re: Important News for the Aquarium Trade Date: Tue, 30 Sep 2003 14:15:15 -0700 MAC threatened that we better support them so they could fight the USCRTF on our behalf. Now that that threat has significantly subsided, they need something new to garner support. By "scaring" industry types into "join MAC or watch the world close down your industry", MAC is playing with fire. Don't believe me? Here it is straight from John Brandt- MAC's mouthpiece: "Importantly, this news report is now presented to mass media worldwide. The trade may need to answer some serious questions asked by serious and powerful environmental interests. Having MAC as a legitimate and tangible alternative to 'business as usual' is an great asset when the heat gets turned up politically on these issues." Mary Middlebrook <I really resent the tactics expressed by MAC in broad terms... and do NOT see them as allies in the least sense... Whoever pays these people will gain their allegiance... the trade will see. Bob Fenner>

MAC Date: Thu, 11 Sep 2003 10:12:08 -0700 (PDT) Hey, Bobster... I have resisted a proper (?) education on MAC issues long enough. The legends and truths that I have heard have become sufficiently blurred that I'd like to look deeper into the matter for a better understanding. I have an inherent distrust of the machine, but would like to be able to enunciate my concerns to others with something more than a belief that they are self-serving windbags that have wasted a staggering amount of money. <Well-stated... a good idea to periodically review ones belief-bases... and be able to intelligently, confidently state ones position re issues that are important...> Do you have any tidbits that you could point me towards for enlightenment? Saved files/data/e-mails? Names of folks to run down in a keyword search? The name of the benefactor (Packard-bell?). <Mmm, how to put this. Anthony, I don't want to (mal)influence you (in any way)... I fear/suspect that my misdealings with Paul Holthus might do just this... Perhaps ask Paul Vossler for MAC's current "agenda" materials... try to make sense out of them... Maybe a historical snipe by me is semi-timely... Originally (MAC's opus has indeed evolved over the years) MAC had no, make that an anti-culture stance... Paul once told me that MAC had no stmt's re cultured marines because they didn't think they were "important" (quotation marks mine)... More likely they couldn't "tax" them... and recently the issues of assessment (what's there, replacement rates) have "come up" in their awareness (by other peoples' doing)... How are you going to know how much of what you can take/extract w/o such information? Anyhow, I sense you can anticipate my bias, suspicion... These folks stated ideals are indeed worthy (they're the same as you, mine, WWM's...), but their actual practices? They are skunks IMO... but it is only reasonable that you first come up with facts, THEN opinions, AND THEN commentary and advice re MAC (or any subject) on your own... I wish you well. Bob> Thanks :)

Artificial corals & fish Guys, I am looking for leads to some ethical importers of marine fish for a friend. Fe Baskin is the widow of Dave Baskin who was the creator of the ASI ReeForms corals ten years ago. They had set up a collection station in the Philippines and were just starting to ship fish and inverts when he died of stomach cancer early this year. Her family operation is currently shipping limited numbers to Holland but would like to start exporting to the USA. Originally they were collecting for custom exhibits. Of course it is all net collected and they are working with Ferdinand Cruz who has been working with the net collection training and has spoken at Marine Ornamentals on the Philippine situation. Her description of their operation is below. Any help would be appreciated. Regards, Tom <Tom I will circulate amongst friends, associates in the trade I consider of excellent practices in hopes they can/will contact you. Bob Fenner> From: Fe Baskin Hi! Tom, Thanks for the reply I was so upset and busy it takes me few days to recover. Any way we are using MAC guideline even if its ridiculous How can you ever trace a single damsel fish? But I have no choice so I will work with them its all lip service anyway. More of WWF propaganda. Our weekly output will be 40-50 boxes a week but We will have stock in the field instead for the next shipment. I am shipping to Holland . Our client provide list of fish beforehand so we give the list to our collectors and we don't end up collecting fish that are not needed. That's the advantage of the field operation its a pain in the neck because we end up taking care of the fisherman but the control that you can get is worth it. We will have the stock of fish ready for shipment but the same amount will be in the cages ready to be shipped when we give them the signal. Also the Island where we operate we can collect all year round and the variety is there. No fancy blue face (seldom seen and fisherman usually said they are big). The supply will come all over the Island but mainly in Mindoro Island where our operation will be located. So much invertebrates are available if there is a demand the buyer can tell me. Our buyer in Holland he is a nice guy like you! Have technology in the shipping and he come to the Philippines every 3 months he adopted a 28 year old Filipina. Paperwork are being process I will name the company DNB AQUATICS . What do you think? Our supervised collecting station in Mindoro Island we have cages in the ocean .Fish are not feed in the cages they stay there 3-5 days depending on the size. Another few days in the facility before shipping, we use individual small container per fish to avoid fin damage. Ferdinand will supply from Palawan, Bicol and Bolinao . We shipped fish in bags from the field less stress to the fish. We had a lot of hands on experience because we did it ourselves so many times. In the packing for shipment I got the best but they are part time in the beginning so I don't have a lot of overhead. I really appreciate your help I know you are busy . Thank you and regard to Terri , Lisa (hug her for me she is special) and kisses to the new born I can't wait to meet them. Bye! for now and Take care

Ty-Rubec Incentives to Collectors Lolita, I am not sure I follow your math. Can you provide me with prices paid to collectors (recommended by PFTEA) by year from 1999 to the present (earlier years are also welcome)? Please list the recommended prices for some key species (assuming the price paid to collectors varies somewhat between exporters). Then, provide me with a list of export prices for these species from 1999 to 2001.  How is it that export prices have not gone up, but you pay the collectors more? I don't understand. If you can explain these things, I am willing to listen. I also would be interested in knowing what percentage of the recommended PFTEA prices get down to the collectors, when there are middlemen. I accept the fact that the middlemen have costs (like shipping etc). Basically, I need to know more about the pricing structure. I am also willing to listen to how I may have been "duped".  Since, I am not in the fish business (and don't intend to) I will treat the information provided as being confidential intended to inform me rather than hurt you or the PFTEA. Peter Rubec

Email Accusing MAC Peter,         I have finally read the resignation letter of Ferdinand Cruz, which was in reefs.org, along with all your postings there.  I am not aware of that site because I don't surf around looking for those, since I have many other betters thing do.  I would prefer that all issues concerning me should be addressed/sent directly to me, rather than through a supposedly "open" forum where I am not even aware that I was being falsely accused of so many things. That is absolutely unfair and treacherous.         We don't know where you get your false information, in this regard, I would like to first extend my deepest condolence to you for being taken for a spin by our detractors.      First, the 10% add-on (and sometimes even more) has been and is still a standard practice among all PTFEA members even before MAC. (and everyone follows this to ensure supply).         Do you honestly think that we should "pass on some of the exchange rate to collectors", so how about asking the importers to pass on some of their profit to us? We sell blue damsel for $0.15-0.20 while the stores in U.S. are selling it for $5.00? How about this--our price list has not change in more than ten (10) years. But the buying price of blue damsel went from P0.30 to P4.00++ now. Why? Because the exchange rate has enable us to maintain our "antique" prices.    You mention collectors in Palauig, Busuanga, Coron and Bagac-who are this people? I don't know anyone of them; I don't have suppliers from those areas. So how come your friend Ferdinand Cruz is accusing me of not paying enough? How can that happen if we have no dealings with them? You say "exporters lining up against me?" Please see attach "letter of support" from all (100%) PTFEA members.         Again, I have no dealing with suppliers from Palauig, so how can the Provincial Fisheries Officer in Palauig be against me? On what ground? It is obvious that Marivi Laurel and her cohorts are making a fool of people like you, who are so eager to sympathize with them without investigating the fact.         Why are they using the internet to engage in back-stabbing me? Because they are afraid for me to prove them wrong! What kind of people engage in such dirty tricks? Only coward and traitors I guess.         I have helped the LTF industry for 30 years without asking for any credit for my contributions. I've never charged PTFEA for my expenses, not even a single pen or paper. I have sacrificed time, effort and money in service of PTFEA and to help the LTF industry'¬"¢s survival to protect it against all attackers.  Among the exporters, I can say that I am the one who has helped our industry the most but I am now being singled out by you and your cohorts'¬Â¦how ironic! Lolita PTFEA STATEMENT OF SUPPORT FOR LOLITA TY We, the members of Philippine Tropical Fish Exporters Association (PTFEA), hereby affix our signature to confirm that we protest and strongly condemn the false accusations against our organization PTFEA and our president Lolita Ty, which were made by Peter Rubec and Josef Steiger, in collaboration with Ferdinand Cruz and Marivi Laurel. We also confirm our full support to our president, Lolita Ty, in her fight against rumor makers, fault finders, irresponsible, disrespectful people. We recommend to MAC that they take disciplinary actions against them in fairness to PTFEA and Lolita Ty Signed by all the PTFEA members on the 4th of February, 2003. Re: Email Accusing MAC Lolita, The main point we need to discuss is why you refuse to pay the net-collectors 10% more for net-caught fish. Read the bulletin board on reefs.org. I have already accused you of this. What is your reply? What (if anything) do you intend to do about it? Tell, Paul that when you are willing to do something (like passing on some of the exchange rate to the collectors) we might listen. We in this case means the collectors in Palauig, Busuanga, Coron, and Bagac. It means Ferdinand Cruz and the exporters lining up against you. It also means the Provincial Fisheries Officer in Palauig and doubtless other government officials that intend to strictly enforce federal and municipal laws. Peter Rubec, Ph.D.

Exporter Pricing to Collectors (3/10/03) Peter, <<RUBEC>>  "How about this--our price list has not change in more than 10 years."  Does this refer to your company's export prices? Or does it refer to the PFTEA recommended prices paid to collectors? <<LOLITA REPLY>> 1) My company's EXPORT price list has NOT changed in more than 10 years.  I don't know about other exporters. Even as PTFEA president, I have NO right to interfere with any member's business. <<RUBEC>> My concern is that the pricing paid to collectors has not changed in 10 years (personal communication from Ferdinand Cruz). You seem to state that you have increased what you pay to collectors  (QUOTING LOLITA STATEMENT: "Do you honestly think that we should "pass on some of the exchange rate to collectors", so how about asking the importers to pass on some of their profit to us? We sell blue damsel for $0.15-0.20 while the stores in U.S. are selling it for $5.00? How about this--our price list has not change in more than ten (10) years. But the buying price of blue damsel went from P0.30 to P4.00++ now. Why? Because the exchange rate has enable us to maintain our "antique" prices."). <<LOLITA REPLY>> 2) As I have cited: buying price of blue damsel went from P0.30 to P4.00++ now.  This is true for all.  F.C. gave you another wrong info, or he is lying again, making a fool of you because he knows you are ready to side with them. <<RUBEC>>  My concern is not what your company does (it has one of the best reputations). My concern is what the other members of the PFTEA are doing. <<LOLITA REPLY>> 3) Thank you for acknowledging that MY COMPANY "HAS ONE OF THE BEST REPUTATIONS." I invested personal sacrifices, time, efforts, sincerity, honesty etc. to achieve this, because I believe that legacy is the most important thing you can leave your family, not money. <<RUBEC>> There needs to be an economic incentive paid for net-caught fish over cyanide-caught fish.  Please explain what they pay for a) cyanide-caught fish, <<LOLITA REPLY>> 4-a) We pay NOTHING for cyanide-caught fish, because that's what it is worth - nothing!  In other words, we DO NOT accept them.  That's why we only deal with our trusted suppliers.  That's why my volume has suffered.  That's why my variety has suffered.  It is a given fact that more fish and variety can be caught by using cyanide, but I tell my suppliers I won't accept any kind of fish that I suspect has been caught with cyanide even if that means my variety and volume will suffer.  The consequences for my company - we have lost several clients to other exporters who can produce more volume and variety. (But I don't imply or even suggest that they are buying cyanided fish). <<RUBEC>> b) net-caught fish (first two are from collectors not associated with the MAC) <<LOLITA REPLY>> 4-b) Net caught fish - YES, we pay additional 10%, sometimes plus trucking/transportation depending on supply situation like shortage due to bad weather. <<RUBEC>> and c) net-caught fish from MAC Certified Collection sites. <<LOLITA REPLY>> 4-c)  MAC certified net caught fish - YES, we pay additional 10% on top of their already higher selling price, PLUS 25% of air freight as agreed. <<RUBEC>> Basically, I want the PFTEA to announce a policy of paying more for net-caught fish than for cyanide-caught fish.  If this already is being done, then please announce this in a clearly worded press release. Please explain how you know whether fish are net-caught (without a CDT test or MAC Certification). <<LOLITA REPLY>> 5) PTFEA cannot and will not announce "a policy of paying more for net-caught fish than for cyanide caught fish." Why? Because we DO NOT allow suppliers to collect fish with cyanide.  That's why PTFEA commissioned a local manufacturer to produce monofilament nets and distribute them to our suppliers FREE OF CHARGE INDEFINITELY.  Unfortunately, there is no acceptable CDT test available yet for LTF.  The only way is through experience, observation, and trust between us and our suppliers. <<RUBEC>> Also, I would like to know whether anything can be done about the complaint (voiced in Ferdinand's letter), that the screeners in some MAC Certified export facilities insist on bribes to be paid by net-collectors or they screen out high-priced fishes (which they then claim die in the facility). Hence, they claim that they are being cheated. <<LOLITA REPLY>> 6) Again, I have no control over other members' business.  In my company, bribery is illegal.  We will prosecute both the supplier and screener if found violating our company policy - not allowing bribery, in any form, not even food or other non-monetary benefits. We have posters in our screening area warning them not to do this.  I believe this is not an advantage for any company.  Can you please be more specific as to WHO this 'MAC certified export facilities insist on bribes to be paid by net collectors'¬Â¦." The fact is all our suppliers PULL OUT whatever rejects they got from us to sell to local pet shop or whatever.  So we have no advantage at all rejecting more fish.  We need fish, more fish to export! You are welcome to visit the PTFEA web site and write to our members DIRECTLY for any issues you need to clarify about them, rather than listen to irresponsible people who wants to expand their business at the expense of others by spreading rumors and false statements. Finally, I am just an ordinary person, a nobody. I have no PhD attach to the end of my name.  All I have is sincerity, humility and truthfulness.  I am not afraid of hard work.  I do not seek personal glory, all I want is the advancement of our organization in particular and the improvement of the LTF industry as a whole. I think politicking should cease, responsible leadership should prevail, and sincerity in serving the industry should be paramount if our goal is to unite and prosper. Let us instill discipline and maintain harmonious ties with one another.  Let us not be afraid of hard work, as we do our share in building an industry that is sustainable for a bright future of generations to come. Lolita

REPORT to the BOD (Steven.R back in the P.I.) Hello People,       I sent out a big report two days ago and found out that it was lost due to system irregularities in the internet cafe that I'm at. Since I'm not in a big hotel like the one MAC sprang for Mike and John Brandt, I have to find an internet service on the street. Tom would be proud.       The nets, i.e.. clear mesh handnet missing for ages was eagerly devoured by the divers in every area distributed. We will need more.       The breakaway faction that resigned from MAC left them in a pretty difficult position. A MAC certification movement with no certified fish supply except for the limited and narrow variety offered by the two certified exporters [who are both bitter and angry over this terrible handicap to their businesses] was threatening to tear the whole thing apart.      Ferdinand Cruz, the former MAC head trainer had had enough as I arrived. We met with the also recently resigned Aquarium Habitat. And then, HD Marineworld. I heard all their reasons for leaving which were frankly, predictable and understandable. No nets, little field support, unreasonable paperwork burden and no variety in the collection areas. HD Marineworld was on the verge of quitting the business all together. She said that since going net caught all the way, she lost most of her customers, got much less variety and had to pay more for poorly handled fish.         The local MAC director, Lino Alvarez was given the job of meeting with us all and seeing if an accord couldn't be hammered out.         Ferdinand, Lino, Mike and I have just finished a peace plan and I have it in my hands now, complete with a national training budget and protocols for converting 1,500 cyanide fisherman into netsman w/in a year.   Mike King of CORL just left. It appears that we have done it, with no small contribution I might add from AMDA.         However, to allow certain parties to save face...I am not to be the one to tell the world. This is an accord between MAC, CORL and with support and review from the Philippines own Bureau of Fisheries. Fine...action and deeds decrease the need for pressure and that's exactly what the deal is all about. The first training will be in the clown triggerfish grounds of Polilio Island, Quezon province where nearly 100 collectors have died in the last 10 years collecting them in deeper and deeper water.       I am to return in just a month to begin working with the trainers as the first bridge funding is available.        As I said earlier, I am not at liberty...but everyone else is, so let them release the peace agreement in their own words. This is to be a communities based, fisheries reviewed independent program administered by CORL from which MAC certifications will flow.         The schedule, the budget, the training grounds , the netting supply and the new covenant with Fisheries, as you may surmise, carries a lot of my input, and at time insistence.         This is perhaps the most productive and reinvigorating week I have ever had. I'm proud of it and thankful for you guys in giving me the chance to show what can be done if people care enough to hang in there, put their guns aside and work at it..       Furthermore, it was done with very little money. Plane ticket, net supply and DHL to ship the netting...that's it. The $18.00 a nite hotel was not billed to AMDA as it might've upset some who thought this "junket" was  ill advised..                            Steve Robinson                            AMDA PRESIDENT             PS. Mike will be home in two days. Check it all out with him. MAC can also respond as they will. We agreed that they can go first.

Revised MAC Standards/Certification     Date:    2/1/2003 2:37:19 AM Eastern Standard Time     1.  Exporters must provide an economic incentive to collectors for net-caught fish.  It is proposed that the exporters seeking MAC Certification of their facilities should commit to paying the collectors 10% more for net-caught fish which come from MAC Certified collection sites. 2.  The collection sites certified by the 3rd party certifier must have coral reefs in good to excellent condition and sustainable populations in terms of both the relative abundances of species of concern and species richness as determined by underwater surveys (preferably conducted by qualified biologists using Reef Check MAQTRAC). Other underwater survey techniques may be acceptable provided they are endorsed and conducted by qualified scientists. 3. The existing MAC chain-of-custody requires quite a lot of paper work that identifies the collectors, the collection sites, and the fact that the fish were collected to order etc. The weakness of this system is that once the fish reach the exporter from the field they must be placed in separate tanks or other holding facilities, after being removed from the plastic bags. Cyanide-caught fish must be segregated from net-caught fish in export facilities that deal with both MAC-Certified and non-certified fish. In addition, net-caught fish coming from different locations and different collectors must be segregated.  The latter may be impractical without some means of either marking the fish or maintaining them in the original shipping containers/bags received from collectors.  It is proposed that better means for segregating and shipping fish be evaluated such as breathing bags or hard plastic containers (with holes) be evaluated in terms of cost and utility for the purposes of improving the quality of the fish and maintaining the degree of segregation deemed necessary to support MAC Certification. It is proposed that Net-caught MAC Certified fish should be kept in tanks with filtration systems (e.g., trickle filters) separate from the tanks holding fish that are not MAC-Certified (because of potential contamination resulting from net-caught fish absorbing cyanide excreted into the water by cyanide-caught fish). 4. Rigorous random-stratified sampling of aquarium and food fish and marine invertebrates from both collectors holding facilities (e.g., cages) and exporters should be implemented to support cyanide testing. The sampling should be stratified by  Family rather than by species.  For example, if there are 30 species of damselfish in the Family Pomacentridae only one species of damselfish needs to be sampled monthly.  One fish from each family present in an exporters facility should be randomly sampled monthly. So, if there are 15 families and possibly 200 species, there should be 15 fish sampled for CDT. Some means of selecting the species at random within each family needs to be developed.  Hence, with the family Pomacanthidae (angelfish) there may be 10 species present. Some means needs to be developed to randomly choose which species within each family will be sampled each month both at the villages where collectors reside and at export facilities.  The samplers should be deputized as fish wardens by BFAR.  Exporters and collectors must cooperate and allow sampling without interference. Any individuals who interfere with the samplers should be subject to fines and/or prosecution as mandated under Philippine laws and/or FAO from the appropriate court system or government agencies. 5. Cyanide testing should be conducted by an organization independent of BFAR and independent of the MAC. The organization in the Philippines with the most experience and expertise is the IMA. The testing facilities should be open to inspection by a 3rd party ISO certifier.  The methods for cyanide testing should be those endorsed by either the ASTM, and/or APHA.  They should be those methods accepted by US government and Philippine government agencies (e.g., USEPA, BFAR). 6.  MAC Certification should be linked to cyanide testing. Cyanide test results should be available within  24 hours of submission of the fish (alive or frozen) by the samplers to the testing laboratories.  BFAR should pass a Fisheries Administrative Order (FAO) that links cyanide testing to MAC Certification and to the issuance of export permits by BFAR. Hence, MAC Certification would mean that fish being exported were both "net-caught" and "cyanide-free" because they originated from MAC-certified field holding locations and MAC-Certified export facilities, both of which would be subjected to monthly cyanide testing. 7. Exporters must agree in writing to continue to pay higher prices to net-collectors (at least 10% above the presently existing price recommended by PFTEA) and agree to stop buying fish from collectors determined by the cyanide testing to be using cyanide to capture food fish and/or aquarium fish. Exporters who do not keep their promise will be blackballed by the collectors (no net-caught fish will be sold to them). 7.  Fish tested for cyanide should be categorized as Cyanide Present or Cyanide Absent.  Cyanide Present are those cyanide concentrations which exceed the lower limit of detection of the analytical method based on daily calibration tests. For example, if the CDT method for cyanide ion previously used by IMA was adopted (that published in Standard Methods by APHA and ASTM) then the lower limit of detection for a linear relationship with a four point calibration is 0.03 mg/kg.  Hence, fish scored Cyanide Present would be those with concentrations of cyanide ion greater than or equal to 0.03 mg/kg (concentration adjusted for initial weight of fish sample used for testing).  Cyanide Absent under this definition would include fish with levels of cyanide Below Detectable Limits (BDL) or Zero. For the example discussed that means the fish either had cyanide concentrations less than 0.03 mg/kg (BDL) or 0 (Zero) mg/kg. 8. Cyanide detection test (CDT) results from the CDT laboratories should be fully utilized by the Philippines court system. There should not be any fish tested from "Monitoring" (fish samples not intended to support prosecution). All CDT results from fish sampled by Marine Inspection Sampling (MIS) staff deputized as fish wardens and linked with the CDT laboratories or by other law enforcement officials should potentially be available to support prosecution of either collectors or exporters (depending on where they were sampled).   9.  A three strikes system should be implemented for Philippine export facilities with regard to cyanide testing.  At least 10 fish of different fish families should be sampled monthly. If more than a specified percentage (say 60%) of the fish sampled and tested are found to have cyanide present, the exporter is considered to have failed  that month's sampling.  BFAR or the Philippine courts could enforce a system wherein export facilities that fail are given two warnings. The third time they fail (say in three consecutive months) the export facility loses its export license and would be denied export permits or subjected to prosecution by the court system. The three strikes rule could be applied to collectors or collectors associations by municipalities through the FARMCs or local court system. Successful conviction would mean seizure of boats and collection equipment, and/or jail sentences. 10.  Experiments should be conducted with various chemicals that can neutralize ammonia, control bacterial proliferation, and possibly sedate fish to reduce stress from handling and shipping. Experiments should be conducted to evaluate the best means of packing fish for transport both from the collection areas to export facilities and from exporters in originating countries to importing countries. Simple cost-effective methods need to be evaluated to determine the best means of shipping fish to reduce mortalities either Dead on Arrival (DOA) or Dead After Arrival (DAA) within a specified period (3-5 days).  Once the best methods are determined, these methods should be publicly available and become part of the recommended MAC Standards/Procedures. The companies in the trade should be willing to share "trade secrets" if it will reduce mortalities.  The MAC should work toward the goal of achieving 1% DAA at each step of the chain of custody. Using present best methods alluded to in the existing Core Standards, the present DAA should be set at 5% for each step of the chain. Depending on the research results, the MAC should commit itself to reducing future % DAA levels to whatever level is achievable with revised shipping practices/acclimation procedures etc. Sincerely, Peter Rubec, Ph.D.

MAC, cyanide testing     Date:    1/10/2003 6:38:03 AM Eastern Standard Time       Dear Mr. Sochaczewski, In your article (in the Harold Tribune on February 11, 2003) you stated that the Marine Aquarium Council retorts that "the test in not scientifically proven". You were provided with ample information that the cyanide detection test (CDT) used by the International Marinelife Alliance (IMA) is reliable and is that endorsed and published by major US based organizations including the American Public Health Association (APHA), the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM), and the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA). So how is it that you let this unfounded assertion by the MAC stand without providing the true facts in your article? Sincerely, Peter J. Rubec, Ph.D. International Marinelife Alliance Dear Peter I got your name from Josef Steiger in Switzerland. I'm a journalist and I'm writing about MAC in the Philippines.  I understand that you have developed a cyanide-detection test that can be used up to three weeks after the fish has been caught.  Can I ask a few questions? Difference between your test and other tests The test for total CN- (cyanide ion) used by IMA in its CDT laboratories from 1993 to 2001  was that published by the American Public Health Association in a book titled Standard Methods for Water and Wastewater.  It is also endorsed by the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) and the US-EPA in their method books. Other CN- test methods are published in the book Standard Methods (APHA).  The basic difference is that the test for total cyanide ion involves use of a reflux distillation apparatus that allows for dissolving fish tissue in sulfuric acid and addition of other chemicals to remove interfering substances.  Once this is done a variety of methods can be used to measure cyanide ion concentrations. Ease of use The APHA/ASTM method is not easy to implement. It should be conducted by qualified chemists in a laboratory equipped with a fume hood, the reflux distillation apparatus, and ion-selective electrodes (ISE) and ISE meter. The APHA method I can send you the four Standard Operation Procedure (SOP) manuals that I helped prepare if you wish. Copies were sent to Josef Steiger that you can consult.  There are manuals for a) Sampling, b) Sample Preparation, c) Cyanide Testing, and d) Measuring cyanide concentrations using the ISE electrodes and meter. The third manual basically covers the APHA method. Cost The equipment (not including lab and fume hood) is about $5,000 USD. Already on the market? The reflux distillation glassware is sold by several companies. The ISE equipment is sold by Thermo-Orion based in Beverly Massachusetts. Widely used? Yes, the equipment is widely used in laboratories worldwide. Your affiliation (university, research center) I am a research scientist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Florida Marine Research Institute, St. Petersburg, Florida. I am also a Senior Research Scientist (part time) with the International Marinelife Alliance with its international headquarters in Honolulu, Hawaii, USA. And I'd like your views about MAC, whether you agree with the way things are going, what the main problems are, suggested solutions. I have given you my views over the telephone. The MAC has been "Greenwashing" the  marine aquarium trade. See Josef Steiger's letter, the letter of Marivi Laurel. I will send you other materials after you send me proof that you are actually a bona-vide journalist. I could call you over the weekend. You can call me at 727-327-9226 if you need further information or have other questions. I'd be grateful if you could reply to both my emails, above. I have only received one email that I am aware of. Sincerely, Peter J. Rubec, Ph.D. 2800 4th Street North Suite 123 St. Petersburg, FL 33704, USA Email: peterrubec@cs.com Many thanks, best wishes, Paul

Re: Email Accusing MAC Date: 2/7/2003 7:41:17 AM Eastern Standard Time Lolita, I am not sure I follow your math. Can you provide me with prices paid to collectors (recommended by PFTEA) by year from 1999 to the present (earlier years are also welcome)? Please list the recommended prices for some key species (assuming the price paid to collectors varies somewhat between exporters). Then, provide me with a list of export prices for these species from 1999 to 2001.  How is it that export prices have not gone up, but you pay the collectors more? I don't understand. If you can explain these things, I am willing to listen. I also would be interested in knowing what percentage of the recommended PFTEA prices get down to the collectors, when there are middlemen. I accept the fact that the middlemen have costs (like shipping etc). Basically, I need to know more about the pricing structure. I am also willing to listen to how I may have been "duped".  Since, I am not in the fish business (and don't intend to) I will treat the information provided as being confidential intended to inform me rather than hurt you or the PFTEA. Peter Rubec

Re: Ty-Rubec Incentives to Collectors Lolita: I don't know you personally, but your statement " I am not aware of that site because I don't surf around looking for those, since I have many other betters thing do." says a lot.  Reefs.org is the largest and most influential website in the aquarium hobby and has been for nearly ten years... and hosts the premiere and only peer-reviewed aquarium magazine, Advanced Aquarist that is the most respected, read, and cited source of aquarium related issues in the world.  They also host live chats with some of the most important voices in the trade and hobby and have for years. Several of the people on this email list, myself  included, participate and are contributors to that site. If you are not familiar with reefs.org, and are at all  involved in making your living from the collection and sale of marine ornamentals, then knowing this site and the market to which your livelihood depends, I would think, would be a rather high priority. The US aquarium hobby is without question an Internet-based group. I think Paul has recently realized this, as well. The forums there are open, and several forums are specifically for issues such as these.  If anyone wants to "educate" or inform the hobby for which they work,  are concerned, to  garner their support or, alternately, create anti-support, these large sites are the place to do so, not private emails with a header list of a dozen or so people. Best, Eric Borneman Department of Biology and Biochemistry Program in Ecology and Evolution University of Houston Science and Research Building II Houston, TX 77252 713-743-2667 email: eborneman@uh.edu

Question on pricing in this article Date: 2/14/2003 12:41:31 AM Eastern Standard Time Dr. Rubec, I'm trying to understand the assertion made in the following article: http://www.iht.com/articles/86238.html regarding an increase in income of three times... Do you have any idea how this number was arrived at? Thanks and best regards. Mike Kirda Steven.R, looking for that training job Hello Lino,               People can make a change, make history and make money at the same time...and a new deal and way of looking at this thing may give us the way out.                        If the current impasse between the PTFEA, MAC and CORL is so difficult, lets pass on it. Lets just make it a fair and independent training program run thru the offices of BFARs very own, director Sarmiento.                This way, the independent exporters, the PTFEA and the fisherman all benefit and gain from it. Not just a reformers training or a PTFEA assn training, but a training for the good of the country first, and the business people second. After all, the fish trade doesn't own the country and is a distinct minority in the fishery sector. The trouble it causes is way out of proportion to the "benefit" it creates. Allowing the success of reform efforts to rest upon whether or not the business people will accept it gives them too much say so over an issue bigger than them; the welfare of the coral reefs , the village fisherman and the countries need for food supply.                  Furthermore, allowing the success of reform efforts to rest upon whether or not the NGO's  can get their act together is equally dangerous. The past 20 years has seen them come and go and the millions of dollars raised and spent based on this issue has not yielded significant results. The exclusion of the initial formulas for success that I managed in the early days were not duplicated. The various netting supplies were not secured and the fisherman were not made the centerpiece of the program.                 We at CORL propose to yield to the authority of BFAR and train cyanide fisherman to commercial standards without the predictable backsliding that results from inadequate training.                 We propose that the maximum authority of the project will in fact be Director Sarmiento.                 The BFAR municipal office will host the trainings and support and assist in their implementation, negating the need for so many outsiders 'invading' the village to train. The logical utilization of existing, local fishery people already on salary allows the program to be run much cheaper than it has been in the past and without so big an infrastructure and mass of employees.                  The training team, contracted by BFAR to do this will consist of a head field director, an assistant field director, a program administrator and 3-4 assistant trainers.                    A budget will follow.                                                              Sincerely, Steve

Dear BOD,            Between running my own marinelife business and trying to negotiate accords on the increasingly contentious Philippine reform impasse, I've not had much free time to get back to you or even cause trouble on reefs.org. The issue has come to a potentially historic  crossroads perhaps, and no small thanks for that is do to us here at AMDA.             Please regard the rough draft of a proposal that encompasses all sides and offers a way out of the eternal problem. It is one that the Philippine Director of Fisheries point man in MAC, and I came up with last nite in a $75. phone call.             Terms: PTFEA   [Phil. trop. fish exporters assn.]                         Director Sarmiento of BFAR,  [Chief of the Philippine Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources  ...he was my old boss when I worked in the Philippines w/ him and the new MAC Philippine field director, Lino Alvarez                    Read the letter [confidential] and let me know what you think. This lets MAC off the hook for the training and they can then focus on their original mandate...certification. And with this BFAR training in place, there will actually be net caught fish to certify instead of faking it or just certifying facilities....i.e. facilities carrying cyanide fish. Only training can give us the net caught blue tangs and clown triggers to diffuse the flash points on the issue. Without the classic fishes, no net caught business can survive...AND THAT'S WHY, there has been so much heat on this thing...make sense now?             Anyway...its Monday nite , right?                                                                          Steve

Hello people,              There has been a terrible error in the promulgation of strategy for several years that was agreed in private last nite by significant parties to the Philippine reform issue.               It was "assumed" that the market had to be educated and prepared for the acceptance of higher priced net caught fishes that would be produced by a program that would charge dealers to the certify that all had been done correctly.                It was further assumed that there were plenty of net caught fisherman already trained to provide fish supply and that all that was lacking was this push to standardize and certify the chain of custody.              Well its not a case of the weak link ruining the plan, its a case of missing links in the plan. ' What fish supply?" There has never been significant progress in training and equipping cyanide fisherman in anywhere near the numbers required to base such a movement on!  [ despite the expenditure of a few million dollars by assorted groups over the years.] This is accepted now and the issue has evolved towards...how do we fix it?                 After all, if a chain has missing links...it cannot pull your car out of the mud!.  It was claimed that there were other achievements...and good news to hold up and to be sure there was...HOWEVER, if the actual ,bonafide net caught fish supply is not created thru further training, certification will never gain credibility and the investment will be for naught. The polarization of the issue is rooted in this dilemma.                Recently, months were lost due to the insistence that the exporters must give their blessing to the reform process, because without it, cyanide abuse will continue. That's also something in flux . Several hundred cyanide fisherman currently in jail and the increasing clamp down and banning of the trade in various municipalities in the Philippines indicate that the exporters have less and less choice. Obey the law or go to jail is increasing throughout the Philippines.                 Sustainable fisheries must become reality whether or not the trade agrees to support reform or not. The choice will not be that of business people anymore. As in our country, what the market wants i.e.. abalone or salmon, carries no weight if the resource is protected or in danger. Imagine if will for a moment, if we thought our black bears could never be saved unless the Chinese market demand for their gall bladders lessened.                Before WE allowed "market demands and attitudes" to justify the wipeout of black bears to happen, we would be hunting bear poachers and putting them in jail. Oops, I guess that's exactly what we do already.              Limits, permits and quotas are the rule of the day not the limitless need and greed of the market. The Philippines is increasingly becoming ruled by law and due process. The trend is toward restrictions, and closures unless the trade reforms its practices...which can then and only then be revealed in its paper trails.               We must reform for the right reasons and not be led to believe that it depends upon a change of heart in the very business people that brought the plague into our house in the first place.                Training enables certification and then...peace on this issue.                                                                                                                       Sincerely, Steve Robinson

Mike,          Click on MacArthur Foundation...                     then...grants authorized for 2001...                               then conservation and sustainability...                                         then under subcategory...                                                    Asia -Pacific...                                                                                    look at the IMA AND MAC Budget allocations ... This is merely a million.. then go to Packard and search, then TNC, then MacArthur... like I said...millions gained, dozens trained.           Steve   

                  Fw: REPORT TO MAC     Dear Ferdinand and Peter,   I think, this answer from Ty is self explanatory! Regards,   Josef Subject: Re: REPORT TO MAC > Dear Mr. Steiger, > I received your e-mail dated January 12, 2003 addressed to me, and your > letter to Dr. Paul Holthus.  I wish respond to your statements, but before > I do that, we must first agree on certain ground rules to ensure fairness > for both of us: > First, if one of us says something wrong (whether you or me), then that > person will admit his or her mistake and undo it (e.g., by a retraction > published to everyone who was given the wrong statement). > Second, statements of fact must be based on true evidence, not hearsay. > Third, neither one of us will give information to the public unless it is > true and supported by true evidence. > Fourth, neither one of us will give information to the public unless the > other person has already had notice of the statement and a fair opportunity > to respond. > Fifth, neither one of us will give information to the public without > letting the public know of the other person's response. > If you agree to these ground rules, then I will respond to your > statements.  Otherwise, there is no point for me to respond to you.  If you > think of other ground rules that can ensure mutual fairness and productive > discussion, feel free to suggest them. > Let me know whether you agree to these terms. These rules are fair to both > of us.  If you do not agree to these rules, I will assume that it is > because you are afraid to engage in a fair discussion, just like "Dr." Rubec. > Sincerely, > Lolita Ty

Ferdinand Cruz resignation from MAC

                                                    December 15, 2002.


Paul Holthus

Executive Director

Marine Aquarium Council



Dr. Vaughan Pratt

International Marinelife Alliance



Charles Barber

International Marinelife Alliance



Dear Mr. Paul Holthus, Vaughan Pratt, and Chip,


Although I am seconded to you by IMA, it is my personal decision to tender my resignation as your training specialist for MAC as soon as possible. I know that I have to give a 30 days notice but I think we can forgo of that formality. This December 15 is fine with me and I hope with you.


My decision to resign has not been easy nor did it come over night.  As you know for more than 10 years, I have been striving to help change the aquarium industry and help better the lives of the collectors.  When MAC came about in mid 1999 I chose to offer my services to MAC because I believed in MAC's concept to make the industry clean, to make life better for the collectors, and at the same time conserve and protect the earth's marine resources.  I saw MAC's concept and goals as one of the needed independent component in the IMA's ornamental reform program.   Seeing the mission and the capabilities of MAC, I fought for MAC despite the many detractors.  I believed in MAC when others did not. 


As I entered my second year as a training specialist for MAC I witnessed little by little, MAC's deviations from their original goals.  I tried to fight these deviations by trying to suggest changes in the path of MAC but there was little response.  MAC did not see these changes as necessary or important as they are and it is because of these deviations from the original goals of MAC that I have decided to leave the organization. 


I cannot in conscience stand any longer for an organization that is now perceived as not really making the industry clean, that is not making life better for the collectors, and is not helping to conserve the earth's marine resources.  MAC is only worsening these problems and I will show you,


1)      How MAC is not making the industry clean

a)      By certifying exporters who mixes clean and dirty fish.

·         The MAC certified exporters are going to use the certification to hide their illegal activities and claim the fish they are exporting as clean.  However, in reality most of them are willfully staying dirty and thus making more coastal villagers suffer and go hungry with the wanton destruction carried out by their collectors.  Net collectors were taken aback that some exporters were certified without passing through the right process. Collectors have said that they have not seen any improvements in the methods of accepting and treating their fishes in these facilities. Some collectors have even cynically asked me why some nearby houses near some export facilities conveniently and quietly handle the distribution of cyanide.  They informed me that the stores where cyanide is typically purchased from are now being guarded by enforcement authorities and ordinary collectors are being accosted when they make purchases in these stores.  By MAC certifying these exporters improperly, MAC is on the path of legitimizing well-kept illegal activities.  

b)     By having weak standards and best practices for exporters.

·         The standard of certifying only the fish that goes to the exporter. This standard is weak because it allows for the MAC certified exporter to cherry pick on the MAC certified collector's fish.  However, in reality, they are buying the bulk of their fish from cyanide collectors yet these MAC certified exporters still claim themselves to be clean.  

·         MAC's standard of declaring MAC certified fish and non-certified fish.  A MAC certified exporter will always claim that all or majority of their fish are MAC certified because declaring that majority of their fish are non-certified is like admitting that their fish are dirty and that they support illegal activities.

·         MAC's methods of fish segregation in an exporter facility.  MAC requires that all MAC fish be segregated from non-certified fish in a facility.  However, MAC is not taking into account that both types of fish are enclosed in the same system. Also, traceability becomes very difficult with this method of segregation.  



c)      By having no standards and best practices for screeners.

·         The fish handling of the screeners is poor and adds stress to the fish being delivered. 

·         They reject a high percentage of fish that are not supposed to be rejected at the expense of the collector. (Rejects are higher when no representative is present with the shipment).

d)     The rush of MAC to certify more exporters.

·         I helped in the scheme of an export outfit in accepting, screening, and segregating fish with proper traceability. It took them a process of six whole months to make the system work. They also upgraded their fish holding facility to achieved fish optimum health required by MAC. In less than two weeks, just before the certifier arrived MAC staff worked overtime copying the records and system and brought it to two other exporters. What is inexcusable is that they only had the other exporters apply what can be easily applied (simple paper work and simple segregation) without really having these exporters change their methods of accepting, rejecting, handling, segregation and husbandry. MAC got them certified instantaneously. Now MAC is trying to certify more exporters without enough real net caught supply and interpreting standard of practices that would force the exporters to take up responsibility and help clean the industry. 

e)     Having a certifier base their process of certification on the paper work, logbooks, and a few dives for collectors. 

·         I have told MAC that the collectors could easily cheat on paper works. They can act as though they are practicing all of MAC's best practices and standards and in reality, they could easily be using cyanide.  There is no Cyanide Detection Test Laboratory to do any counter checking. MAC needs to have a certifier that bases their certification not only on paper work but also know the fine points and nuances of net collecting, collectors skill levels, harvesting, and packing of fish.  A foreign certifier through no fault of his will generally observe a collector in-water to see if a collector has the knowledge and skills of using barrier net decides immediately that if a collector knows how to use nets he would have no reason to use cyanide and thus certify the collector. This is a very wrong assumption! Most ornamental fish collectors in the Philippines know the basic use of nets. Unfortunately it is either they use it as props or for easy to catch species for obvious reasons. In addition, a lot of them do not have the right kind of nets now.

·         There is a high possibility of connivance between exporters and collectors to doctor paper work since there is practically no mechanism for monitoring and a full time working Cyanide Detection Test laboratory for proper check and balance.  

f)       Having a foreign certifier.

·         A foreigner certifier does not know the behind the scenes situations in these fishing communities and exporting facilities.  For example the certifier having limited time that he can spend in the field would not know that many fisherman either using cyanide or net know how to use barrier nets with varying skills.

·          The limited time a certifier stays in the area does not give an accurate picture of what is really going on in the community.  MAC needs a certifier that knows what drives and motivation pushes collectors to backslide. Typically, the foreign certifiers that have come to Palauig and Bohol have stayed a maximum of two days.  Do you think they really got an accurate assumption of what is 'really' going on in these fishing communities?  Or would they rely on the 'say so' of MAC and doctored paperwork which creates a conflict of interest between MAC trainings and certification?

What shock me is the method describe by MAC and the certifier on how Batasan collectors caught fish. Five or more collectors collectively gangs up on one poor easy to catch fish to collect and MAC and the certifier says it is a great team effort. The implication is immense. Either both MAC and the certifier are too naive and being hoodwinked or MAC's style of upgrading of skills is making history. Nowhere in the world do we have five or more collectors ganging up on one poor fish.

     g)  MAC being involved with both training and certification.

·         MAC should have made a stand to do one or the other, but not both.  The results of MAC being involved in both are not consistent with the original goals of MAC.  There is too much conflict and vested interest. Example, Batasan and Clarin in Bohol; In Bohol only 5 to 6 fishermen are collecting when 23 were certified. (It happens in my sites too due to the cherry picking and pricing) Those places have less than 50 very low price species left to collect and a few blue faces. While before those sites were full of high and middle range ornamental fish that they over collected with the use of cyanide it has now disappeared. They only earn an average of Peso 4.00 or $0.074 per fish. Their area coordinator has never earned. There is still a sporadic shipment of Blue face angel that they do not know how to catch claiming to catch it at night, which is not possible for this species. (Please ask Atoy Oligario who told me everything just a week ago including shipments of blue faces until now. Attached is glowing reports and a rebuttal showing that MAC did not do a good job in investigating and solving the Bohol situation).

The talk now is that Bohol that was very questionable was certified first so it can accommodate claims of other exporters that has been certified and will be certified in the future because they receive MAC fish from a MAC certified collector and a MAC certified area. A check shows that Bohol delivers an average of three boxes per shipment going to future exporters that are going to be certified. It makes it hard to justify certifying other exporters right now and for them to claim that they are shipping out a lot of MAC fish in preparation to being certified.


I have pointed out the above points time and time again.  I have repeatedly informed MAC that it is necessary to create the right standards and best practices for the exporters and screeners just as MAC has done for the collectors.  In addition, I have constantly been asking the MAC staff for the specific procedure, interpretation, and criteria for exporters to earn certification but I was always ignored.

My training and upgrading approach might not be as perfect as we all want it to be but the training and upgrading done under MAC staff is more questionable. There is nothing personal about this but when one of us makes a glaring mistake in the field it reflects on all including me and the setback is tremendous.  Especially, with the kind of work we are doing that has an immediate cause, effect that can be seen, and felt immediately.

It puzzles me how two outfits out of the three got certified when at that time 90% of the fish was going to only one exporter (Habitat). Up to now a few MAC fishes, goes to other exporters due to prices and the way screeners mishandle fish being delivered yet these exporters claims that they only shipped out MAC fish. (Again ask Atoy Oligario, he told me this and said that MAC can only access records that the exporter wants to show MAC and computing the volume of export shipment and MAC fish delivered to them does not tally.) I also suggested to MAC a different method that is more horizontal in approach than the current MAC vertical method of development and upgrading of collectors and exporters to an honest certifiable level but was not heeded. These could have supplied with a step down certification more deserving exporters.

MAC is now seen as creating a deadly bandwagon wherein not only collectors but exporters can now declare themselves clean without really trying honestly to be clean and stay clean. Not having proper standards and best practices for the exporters and screeners to follow and not having real check and balance monitoring from impartial outfits ultimately leads to a system of green washing of the industry.   


2)      How MAC is not making life better for the collectors.

a)  The burdensome paperwork imposed on the collectors.

a)      I have informed MAC time and time again that a lot of paperwork is too much of a burden for the collectors.  This is not only taxing but also unfair because, while collectors (almost all of whom have limited education) have to do all the paper works the exporter has hardly any paper work! I have also pointed out that these collectors are struggling to make both ends meet to feed their families and they do not have the time to collect fish and then fill out what to them are complicated MAC forms. On top of this, MAC in the future expects them to purchase their own office supplies for these forms knowing that these collectors can hardly eat three square meals a day. MAC wants to force on these collectors a typical ISO type of paperwork that can never be honestly, faithfully, and diligently followed even by other developing countries unless they are always assisted by a MAC staff or a fairly educated person that they can ill-afford to pay.

b)       Collectors have no other option but to leave the responsibility of filling out voluminous forms with the area coordinator. 

·         The area coordinator is usually a collector who has also a limited educational background. They are expected to fill out the forms that they find too complicated and time consuming.  MAC forgot that these collectors could hardly write and are force to when it connected to volume of fish delivery and income.

·         The already impoverished collectors must deduct a percentage of their income to support an area coordinator.  

c)      Not certifying the collectors of Palauig, Zambales and New Busuanga, Palawan. 

·         After six months of work with the collectors of Palauig, Zambales and New Busuanga, Palawan they were never certified.  However, the collectors of Batasan, and Clarin Bohol were certified with only a few months of work. Batasan, Bohol had a simple Collection Area Management Plan with large wordings of 'to be filled up' showing that it is an unfinished management plan yet was quickly certified with no problems.  After the certification in Batasan issues including the use of cyanide were raised not by me but Atoy Oligario a MAC staff. They were sent back to investigate the stink of Batasan and Clarin and according to Atoy Oligario and Frank Tinaan due to more problems that had to be immediately addressed when they arrived in the site they did not conduct a proper investigation on the main issues that sent them there. Yet a glowing report of the results of the investigation absolving everybody was made purportedly by Atoy Oligario and Renante Ruz.  One of the members of the investigating team spoke out against the 'false report' but nothing was done.  Also on this trip, I was informed that they were to investigate Clarin, of Bohol where it was rumored that collectors have no barrier nets and proper training.  When the team went there no collectors showed up except kids and two collectors bringing ornamental fish inside face masks and a small dipper which is a liter of salvaged plastic oil can with fish filled with water to the area coordinator and according to the investigators this practice of delivering fish this way to area coordinators is done even in the middle of the night. (A bad practice that is also being done in Batasan) Yet again, Clarin was certified.

·         On the other side in Palauig, Zambales where the collectors have a strong Collection Area Management Plan that was written in the process of months with the help of the Local Government and are excellent net collectors who have actively been trying to fight the encroachment of cyanide fisherman were denied certification.  The problems with Palauig were minor and could be quickly solved yet they were stamped un-certifiable while Batasan, and Clarin, Bohol with major problems was certified.  Does this make sense? Additionally, it should be noted that the collectors of Palauig made the comment that 'if it is just paper work that certifiers are after then falsifying it would be easy but will never solve the problem of cyanide'. I agree with their outlook.

·         What about New Busuanga?  These people have been waiting to be certified for more than a year.  They are highly skilled. MAC office promised these collectors twice that they were coming but the certifier never came.  Furthermore, while they were waiting for the certifier they heard of the Bohol situation from Renante Ruz and Atoy Oligario. They now doubt the legitimacy and purpose of MAC's certification.  They now think Bohol being certified is a cover-up for some exporters that MAC favors so these exporters can claim of receiving MAC fish even if it is only a few boxes per delivery.

d)      MAC certified exporters are not giving fair pricing to the collectors.

·         By avoiding this issue, MAC is seen as not supporting subsistence fisherfolks but is instead seen as making a stand against them. I have to emphasize that fish prices have almost remained the same for more than 10 years. The right and fair pricing for a MAC fish that needs extra effort in the field to achieved optimum health takes time, cost of money, and effort and is a major part of making a success of certification. Currently the way in which these exporters are paying for and then screening the fish prevents any self respecting collector who wants to take care of their fish the right way is encourage to do so. Collectors will need the time to catch more fish and less time for caring of fish just so, they can breakeven on their cost of operation. Environmental conservation also flies out the window for a collector who is trying to stay one-step ahead of hunger. MAC has created a deadly bandwagon where the exporters can declare themselves clean without trying, without facing responsibilities.  The only export facility that more than follows MAC's standards and giving the fisherfoks a fair deal is being squeezed out by other exporters who are MAC certified by giving huge discounts to importers that can only be given if fish are caught by devious means.

·         Worse, these MAC certified facilities couldn't even keep 'net caught fish' in optimal health. Thus, MAC is in effect seen as helping promote cruelty to animals!

·         An area coordinator informed me that when delivering to one of the MAC certified exporters that exporter told him that in a meeting a decision was reached by those that have been certified and eleven who are now going to be certified too, that they will not increase the fish prices but instead will give a big percentage commission on fish deliveries.  (in some of these meetings MAC staff were present)

Again, if no one can see through this ploy then things are hopeless. 

·         MAC's stand of non-interference in behalf of the exploited collectors shows the soft handling of exporters in terms of certification. MAC is seen as afraid to make a stand in spite of its MOA with the Bureau of Fishery and Aquatic Resources and the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development.


3) How MAC is not helping to conserve the earth's marine resources

a)      The order of Peter Scott and Aquilino Alvarez to double the limits of the volumes of extractable fish in each area and to include this order in the management plan.

·         Peter and Aquilino wanted this order done so they could play it safe with the certifier and pass certification with ease.  I vehemently opposed this because it sends a statement supporting over-extraction thus I did not follow this order in all the sites I handled. In Palauig one of the advisers vehemently oppose the idea when I it was mentioned.

b)     The stand of MAC that sites that is certifiable is areas that are fully controlled and protected against illegal fishing activities, 100%.

·         Ideally, this concept would be great but in reality, it limits the extraction areas therefore putting extreme pressure on these 'certifiable collection sites.'  Aside from the pressures on their collection sites, this stand encourages the collectors to lie on where they collect their fish.  Also this stand would eventually teach the collectors to lie about their logbooks, sites and their methods of collecting ornamental fish.  I have been pushing for wider collection area that would eliminate this problems but no one wants to listen.  In addition, it is by habit that these collectors extract in a wider area because they themselves know the effects of putting extreme pressure on their collection areas whether they are net or cyanide fisherman.

c)      There is a mark of increase of mortality on fish

·         The mark increase of mortality is happening due to collectors having perceived these unfolding events and the perceived one-sidedness of MAC in favor of exporters. They do not follow fully MAC's best standard of practices. It is claimed by MAC that Bohol has hardly any mortality. Again, the best person to ask is Atoy Oligario who told me otherwise.   


My work is almost completed and with a few touches, I will have completed my work in the five sites (Marcilla, Turda, Buenavista, Malauig, and Tara) within the Ancestral Domain of the Tagbanua natives and in Bagac Bataan by setting up proper values and capacity to withstand the urge to return to destructive fishing methods.  In knowing that I plan to resign within December, I can assure you that I have not taken any shortcuts in these five sites. The sites in Coron will suspend shipping by the 16th and resume by the first week of January.  Therefore, by January I can guarantee that all areas I worked on for MAC will have no backsliding incidents happening in the future if they are treated fairly.  I have been working straight even during Sundays and Holidays and I intend to take a long needed respite for 15 days this December. I will be present during the process of certification of these sites to see to it that it is carried out properly but I would advise your staff to talk to the collectors and relieve them of their anxiety of the reputation of MAC if they can by January.


The salary I am being paid may be good by Filipino standards but I do not wish to be associated with practices, which is seen now not only by collectors and exporters who wants to stay clean but also government officials as a form of green washing! I cannot anymore stand to see other subsistence stakeholders I meet in the sites who depend on the marine resources suffer and go hungry because of the acts of these irresponsible collectors while exporters conveniently looking the other way so they can immensely profit from it. I thought MAC will finally make sustainable and long-term changes in the aquarium industry but I am disappointed. It scares me to think that MAC is fast becoming an unwitting tool to legitimize these dirty practices. As I said, it has been one of my lifetime goals to help change the industry and give the collectors what they deserve, as well as protecting the marine environment. I am embarrassed to admit I made a mistake by being part of MAC that is now acquiring the reputation among local communities as a dirty green washing organization. I am nowhere reaching my goal as I was years ago and the setback is now bigger than before.  It is a sad reality that I must live with. Finally, I am writing this not to bash MAC but to help MAC wake up to reality. I wrote this without malice but to be very candid to prevent MAC going the way it is going right now.

With utmost respect,

Ferdinand Cruz 

To those I address in this email, Please add this before the letter: To those who are concern in doing right for the industry, It took me a while to decide if my resignation letter should be released or not for several reasons. One is that, it might be interpreted as a personal and malicious assault or bashing of an organization that I previously and firmly believe before as a major part of an answer and solution to the woes we have in our country and other Indo-Pacific areas caused by this industry.  An organization I have been working non stop 7 days a week without holidays because the visions and goals were very admirable and highly doable in the beginning. Second is that, when I wrote it, I only wanted it to be for parties concerned so they can address issues I brought out. I do not want more MAC or IMA bashing because it is counter-productive.  Third is that, I waited for IMA, my mother organization to come out with their position paper on the serious issues I brought out. I have always been considered by my mother organization, IMA as highly outspoken. They too have tasted that but were quick to address issues that I brought out because they know and understood it was the voice of voiceless people that are highly exploited from the coastal communities and exporters who honestly wants to stay clean and ship clean fish. It is with regrets that they are not major players in this field now and don't get me wrong, I am not working for IMA now. The irony of the whole thing is change is not really so hard to achieve. It has always been there staring us right in the eyes. It only looks complicated but it isn't. When I was working for IMA, we have proven this time and time again. We also always tend to forget that subsistence fisherfolk survives and feed their families by using their wits so if you do not have the experience and know what you are looking for they run circles around you a thousand times before you catch on. We cannot blame them for that. I have no malice against Mr. Paul Holthus personally and I admire his goals and vision but the way MAC and his staff are interpreting and implementing their method of certification will create a very dangerous situation if it continuous in the same direction and succeeds.  Justifications and denials is what is not needed but if  MAC wants to continue their method of certification they have to correct their approaches immediately and do things that will be right and fair. If not then I will be against MAC and what it stands for fighting them every step of the way. With this in mind, I am allowing the release of my resignation letter (A very long one) with the hope that things will change. I stand by what I wrote. With utmost respect, Ferdinand Cruz Philippines

MAC Dear Josef, I have just reviewed your letter addressed to Mr Paul Holthus, and am very concerned about the entire contents and particularly the comments below. I have to assume this is referring to our company ,as to the best of our knowledge we are the only certification body who has certified collection areas in the Philippines. I would like to know who you received this information from and on what basis you will substantiate your action of sending this email around the industry. We await your early response. Kindest regards Dr O'Geran I have also heard from different parties that the person from the UK that does the cer­tification in the Philippines (and abroad?) has neither an education in marine biology or any background knowledge of what the fishermen do. It is very important, in order for MAC to be believed in, that they choose the certifiers that have the needed back­ground on the things that they will be certifying. This is the first time that this kind of thing is happening and it makes everything look suspicious.

Re: MAC Dear Mr. O'Geran,    My intention is not to malign any company that does certification nor single you out. Mine is never malicious. I am very concern on the process of how an area gets certified. Certification in this industry is a very powerful tool that can and is going to be misuse, if no proper safeguards and process is done.    Let me ask you, how would you react when an exporter reports that buying from a place that was certified can only get 12 species from that site time and time again? How would you react if you find out that nothing has change in terms of mortality from a certified site? Let also ask you since you claim that your company was the one who certified some sites, who was the interpreter during the process of certification? What was the credentials of the certifier? How long does he do an area, collectors, or an exporter?   Would your certifier know and can identify an area that has been recently had some cyanide or longer? Did you look into the sustainability factor too? Did your group had the help of persons who really know the problems and mindset of collectors in each specific sites? Who were they?    There are even more questions to ask that might seem nothing to a lot of us here in the western world, but believe me it is all connected and important: Did your company conduct the third part review that led to MAC Certification of Batasan Island in the municipality of Tubigon off Bohol?   Were MAC standards followed to do this?  Please list Collection, Holding, Transport (CHT) standards that you were applying.   Have the CHT standards that you were applying changed from those published in the Core Standards, Issue 1 July 1, 2001? My understanding is that there was an underwater survey conducted at Batasan Island?  Was this used as part of the assessment? If the answer to #4 is no,  what underwater survey data was used to determine          that the site was "sustainable"? Please explain how MAC determined that a) the health of the coral reefs and b)      the status of the aquarium fish populations with regard to relative abundance. Did you consult the CAMP documentation prepared for Batasan Island. Was this documentation complete pertaining to published MAC Standards. Have the MAC Standards changed? Did this influence your assessment of the Batasan Island CAMP? Please explain the criterion being applied with MAC certification of marine aquarium fish? Was your company involved with assessment of Philippine exporters? What criteria were applied to certify export facilities? Did your company use the MAC HHT Standards to assess the three companies presently certified by the MAC? Please explain how these criteria were applied? Please explain the distinction between Certifying an export facility and certifying the marine aquarium fish. What does the certification of the fish being exported mean? Does it mean the fish are "cyanide-free" or something else?      You asked me my source of information. Would it not be better if we all look for a way to do things better? I can substantiate this particular action if you want to dwell on it because I can request the people who knows to make their own statements. It is my strong conviction that the industry must know what we are facing, so we can move in the right direction and do things in a positive manner.    Sincerely, Josef Steiger

MAC News 4th Quarter 2002 Director's Note Greetings to you from all of us at MAC. The year 2002 finished up as an extremely busy and productive one for MAC. The success of achieving certification along a full chain of custody was tempered by concerns and debates over controversial aspects of the certification, especially the ability to verify that no chemicals were being used in certified collection areas. We are working on these issues and moving forward in improving the certification to address the concerns. For example, there will be significant developments on the cyanide detection issue in the next few months. A year-end letter from the MAC Board chair summarizes the MAC response and puts these issues in the overall context of MAC Certification development. Among other things, the Dec. 18, 2002, letter notes: 'There will be difficulties and problems as part of this process [of certification development and implementation]. Not everyone will be happy with all aspects of MAC and its efforts, and there will be strong emotions among stakeholders inside and outside the industry, hobby and conservation organizations. 'As the system develops and we learn, there will continue to be difficult issues that MAC must address; this includes issues such as the need to ensure verification of no cyanide use where this practice of fishing continues to be a problem; the need to expand net-training for collectors and reef management to ensure a sufficient supply of certified fish; and the need to insure that the collectors realize tangible economic benefits from certification. We recognize these as serious challenges that MAC and its partners must address as a matter of highest priority.' The full text of the letter is on the MAC website at www.aquariumcouncil.org under 'New Items' As we move forward, we appreciate constructive criticism and dialogue that identifies the gaps and weaknesses in MAC Certification and suggests how to address these. We look forward to working with the MAC Network and our partners to improve and strengthen the MAC Standards and Certification. Who Is Certified? While there are many who are working towards becoming MAC Certified and may prematurely or inadvertently create the impression that they have achieved this already, the only valid list of MAC Certified industry operators is on the MAC website at http://www.aquariumcouncil.org/subpage.asp?page=130&section=3. In 2002, the Batasan Tropical Fish Collectors Association (Bohol, Philippines) and Manila exporters Aquarium Habitat, HD Marine World and Aquascapes Philippines were the first to gain MAC Certification. In October 2002, they were joined by six North American companies that became the world's first MAC Certified retailers and importers. They are US retailers All Wet Pets (Flushing, Michigan), Aquascapes/The Reef Shop (Portage, Michigan), Living Sea Aquarium (Park Ridge, Illinois) and Preuss Animal House (Haslett, Michigan); Canadian importer Coast Mountain Aquatics (Richmond, British Columbia); and US importer A&M Aquatics (Lansing, Michigan). Tubigon Municipality Celebrates Having the World's First MAC Collection Area and Collectors The 27 members of the Batasan Tropical Fish Collectors Association were publicly recognized as the world's first MAC Certified collectors during a 'graduation' ceremony on Oct. 8, 2002, at Tubigon in Philippine's Bohol Province. The collectors operate exclusively in the MAC Certified Batasan Island Collection Area, which is a part of Tubigon municipality. National, provincial and local Philippines government officials strongly endorsed MAC's efforts through their participation in the event. The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources director, Malcolm Sarmiento, graced the ceremony as guest speaker. His visit was the first by a national government official to Tubigon since the 1950s. He noted the profound sense of pride of the collectors and their families and reiterated his support for MAC and the collectors, expressing the intent to help ensure that Batasan had its own patrol boat. The offices of Gov. Erico Aumentado and Tubigon Mayor Paulo Lasco ensured the success of the ceremony. The governor sent most of his senior staff members, especially those responsible for coastal resource management and law enforcement. Manolo Prado, the Philippine Tropical Fish Exporters Association representative, promised to take a more active role in promoting MAC within and outside the organization. The leadership of Batasan Island announced their intention to request Bohol's Provincial Tourism Development Board to include Batasan Island in its eco-tourism development plan. Among other things, they want Batasan Island's inclusion in Bohol's eco-tourism map and guidebook, citing the Island's recognition by MAC as the 'world's first certified collection area for marine ornamentals' as its major distinguishing feature. Barangay, municipal and provincial officials expressed thanks for the positive developments and honor MAC has brought to Batasan Island and Bohol Province. There was a solemnity to the ceremony when the collectors, led by the chief of police, pledged their commitment to comply to the code of conduct in their Collection Area Management Plan and, accompanied by their wives, received their MAC Certification identification cards. This was followed by lighter moments when the collectors' wives and kids performed modern dance numbers. Those attending were moved by the way the collectors and the whole village demonstrated their sense of pride and commitment to their sustainable fishery and MAC Certification. First MAC Certified Importers and Retailers Are Positive About MAC The world's first MAC Certified importers and retailers were certified in October 2002. These pioneer companies in the United States and Canada are responding favorably to the certified organisms they are receiving and their new certified status, while also recognizing that the supply of MAC Certified organisms will be limited initially. 'After retailing for over 20 years, MAC is the first opportunity we've had to be involved with a complete market distribution network; that makes me proud to be a retailer,' notes owner Rick Preuss of Preuss Animal House, Lansing Michigan. 'Having the assurance that these animals were caught and handled properly before they come under my care makes me a lot more comfortable when I sell them to my customers. For some more delicate organisms, I would rather wait for a MAC Certified one than have ones in stock that were not.' 'I definitely like the quality of the fish,' says retailer Brent Gardener, All Wet Pets, Flushing Michigan. 'Everything has turned out real well, and we are really happy with the MAC fish we are getting. A lot of our customers are calling wanting MAC fish. We have some customers with tanks that have only MAC fish in them.' 'Overall the quality of the MAC fish are better than non MAC fish,' says importer Kyle Nelson, Coast Mountain Aquatics, Richmond, British Columbia. 'Although the present supply is limited, we look forward to more supply in the future.' Mark Scheffler, owner of Aquascapes/The Reef Shop, praised the 'business aspect' of MAC Certification, noting the added 'professionalism' it brought to his practice of, for example, tracking and accounting of animals, personnel and equipment (e.g., maintenance). Philippines Update: Working with Collectors to Increase the MAC Supply The majority of MAC's effort and resources continues to be focused on working with collectors and their communities to achieve MAC Certification and increase the supply of certified marine ornamentals. During 2002, Ferdinand Cruz of the International Marinelife Alliance (IMA) was temporarily assigned to MAC to lead our work with collectors and their communities to develop collection area management plans and become trained in net collecting, use of logbooks and post-harvest holding and handling techniques. In addition to the preparation of several collectors groups and collection areas to be assessed for certification, the major output of Cruz's assignment is the group of young MAC field staff whom he trained and mentored and who has become the expanded team for MAC's field activities in the Philippines. They include MAC trainers Arnold Dano, Reginito Gador and Rito Taneo; community organizers Franklin Tinaan and Monica Piquero; and documentation and record-keeping specialist Arturo Olegario. With Cruz's one-year assignment to MAC ending in December 2002, we would like to recognize and congratulate his commitment to working with collectors and the communities and to transforming the marine aquarium trade towards sustainability. The MAC field staff has been working intensively with collectors in Coron, Palawan Province (six collection areas); Bagac, Bataan Province; Palauig, Zambales Province; and Clarin, Bohol Province, with the target of having these areas ready for certification in the first part of 2003. In the meantime, the results of efforts in the Philippines have led to the reassessment by an independent MAC Accredited certifier of two collection areas and collectors associations whose initial audits revealed some inadequacies. Official results of these audits are expected in January 2003, along with those for the first ornamental exporter outside Metro Manila. If these groups succeed, the results will be posted online at http://www.aquariumcouncil.org/subpage.asp?page=130§ion=3. We are also collaborating on training programs for collectors with local governments in Lubang and Looc Islands in Mindoro and Camotes Island in Cebu and developing the potential to provide training in parts of Mindanao and the provinces of Samar and Leyte. Even with the excellent work of Cruz during his secondment and the continuing efforts of the MAC field team, the amount of work with collectors ant their communities requires collaboration and we are always interested in exploring partnerships to address these needs. For example, MAC and the Coalition of Reef Lovers (CORL) are developing a partnership on collector training and reef management. Pacific Region Update Fiji In October 2002, MAC held the Regional Workshop on Certification Process and Procedures in Suva, Fiji, with representatives from export companies, government agencies, universities and conservation organizations. Following the workshop four Fiji exporters, all who have signed the MAC Statement of Commitment, worked with MAC to develop policy and procedures manuals and draft collection area management plans as part of their efforts to be certified by mid 2003. WWF Fiji also worked with one of the communities to help develop a collection area management plan. MAC also worked to raise awareness of the responsible aquarium trade with the tourism industry---an industry that has repeatedly called for closing the trade in Fiji. MAC made a presentation to the Mamanuca Hoteliers Association that was well received, with the MAC Certification process seen as a way to help clarify and resolve conflicts in use. Vanuatu A one-day multi-stakeholder workshop followed by a one-day workshop on MAC Certification was held in Port Vila in November. The workshops brought out issues from the tourism industry concerning reef degradation as a result of bad collection practices; the need to raise awareness, especially on the concept of certification; and the need for community support on reef management. Following the workshops, MAC worked with the three marine aquarium companies in Port Vila, all of which reaffirmed their desire to become MAC Certified. Solomon Islands The Solomon Islands Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources (MFMR), which is very supportive of MAC Certification, attended the Regional Workshop on Certification in Suva, Fiji in October, along with representatives of the Marau community and an environmental NGO from Solomon Islands. MAC has been working with communities participating in the aquarium trade in Marau Sound to help them become familiar with MAC Certification and the collection area management plan. The communities have requested training assistance to implement the MAC Standards. Indonesia Update Continuing with our focus on collectors and collection areas, we are increasing MAC capacity in Indonesia by developing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries (DKP), Republic of Indonesia, and by hiring Gayatri Reksodihardjo-Lilley as the MAC Indonesia Country Coordinator, beginning January 2003. Gayatri worked as a long-term consultant for MAC in Indonesia in 2001, and stakeholders there welcome her return due to her extensive experience in marine conservation in the country and interaction with the marine aquarium trade. Report from the Reefs: Major Progress by Reef Check on Resource Assessment As reported in earlier issues of the MAC News, Reef Check has been developing ' MAQTRAC,' a monitoring protocol specifically designed to assess and track the status of marine ornamental populations and the reef habitat in collection areas. Reef Check scientists Domeng Ochavillo, PhD, and Renante Ruz have been conducting the final testing and refining of the methods by undertaking resource assessments in areas seeking MAC Certification and in 'control' areas where no ornamentals fishing takes place. In 2002 they spent 136 days (4.5 months) at 82 dive sites, during which they conducted 194 dives (a total of 388 person dives with two persons in a team) and 194 transects to generate data for 776 transect segments (each 100-m transect line has four segments). When Ochavillo and Ruz were not underwater, they were busy inputting, collating and analyzing the data. We are beginning to provide these results to the collectors and their communities to develop and improve the collection area management plans required by MAC Standards. The Reef Check team is preparing a paper on the methods and initial results that will be presented at the International Tropical Marine Ecosystem Management Symposium (ITMEMS), March 2003 in Manila. Demand Side Developments Make Headway Europe December 2002 was a busy time for MAC in Europe. Following visits by MAC Accreditation Coordinator Peter Scott, importers in Holland and Germany have committed themselves to becoming MAC Certified in 2003, and significant progress was made in discussions with importers and retailers in the UK. The Ornamental Aquatic Trade Association (OATA) conference held in Hull, UK, was well attended by several MAC representatives, as well as MAC Board Members Marshall Meyers and Keith Davenport. The level of interest for more information about MAC was reflected in the lively Q & A session following Scott's presentation. In Germany, presentations were also given on MAC and on the Global Marine Aquarium Database (a partnership between MAC and the United Nations World Conservation Monitoring Centre) at a major conference near Stuttgart attended by more than 17,000 visitors. United States In late September and early October, MAC Certification Coordinator David Vosseler and MAC Communications Coordinator Sylvia Spalding made presentations and staffed display booths at the US Coral Reef Task Force (USCRTF) meeting in Puerto Rico and the Backer Christmas Pet Trade Show in Chicago. At the USCRTF meeting, MAC provided an update on Certification and the role of a certified responsible aquarium trade in achieving reef conservation. MAC also met with government officials and industry in Puerto Rico who expressed great interest in MAC Certification. The MAC booth at the Backer Trade Show was well visited, and about 50 companies joined the MAC Network. A&M Aquatics, the first MAC Certified importer, also had a booth at the event, which featured an enlarged copy of their MAC Certificate of Registration. Vosseler also made two visits to Los Angeles to work with importers interested in becoming MAC Certified in early 2003. Reaching Out and Responding to Hobbyists and Retailers MAC Certification Coordinator David Vosseler and MAC Communications Coordinator Sylvia Spalding made presentations and staffed the booth at the Marine Aquarium Conference of North America (MACNA) in Dallas. There was strong give and take during a lively open forum that highlighted MAC Certification developments and valuable input from MAC Certified retailers Rick Preuss (Preuss Animal House) and Mark Scheffler (Aquascapes/The Reef Shop). To help improve the flow of information about MAC and respond to concerns that had been posted on the Web, MAC Executive Director Paul Holthus presented an online talk and open forum in mid December at www.reefs.org. About 40 of the questions submitted by the participants could not be addressed during the allotted time, but were answered and posted online. The responses to the questions can be found at http://reefs.org/phpBB2/viewforum.php?f=52 and also, in a condensed version that organizes the questions by topic, in the New Items section of the MAC website at http://www.aquariumcouncil.org/webmediainfo.asp?whatsnew=on . Among the topics covered are verifying compliance, ensuring no cyanide use or destructive fishing practices and MAC Certification of collections areas, collectors and companies. MAC Board Developments: Standards Interpretation, Complaints Process, Elections During the 4th quarter of 2002, the MAC Board of Directors authorized the 'MAC Certification Core Standards Interpretation Document,' which reflects the understanding that the first few years of implementing MAC Certification is a 'development phase' that requires flexibility and practical adjustments to the MAC Standards, as warranted and authorized by the MAC Board. In response to concerns about the standards raised by stakeholders in early 2002, e.g., regarding mortality limits and traceability requirements, MAC worked with industry to address these issues and the Interpretation Document was issued by the MAC Board. The full document is available in the Aquarium Industry section of the MAC website at http://www.aquariumcouncil.org/subpage.asp?section=3. The MAC Board also authorized the 'MAC Certification Objections Procedure' as part of the implementation of MAC Certification. As with all certification systems, a procedure is needed for dealing with complaints about the results of certification and appeals of certification decisions. The Board authorized the complaints procedure and explanatory document, which illustrates the kinds of complaints and appeals and the process by which MAC would respond to them. This document and the MAC Objection Form are available online at www.aquariumcouncil.org/webmediainfo.asp?whatsnew=on The MAC Board of Directors met by conference call in December. Among the key issues addressed was the election of Board members and officers for the upcoming openings. Outgoing Board members Bruce Bunting (WWF), Keith Davenport (OATA), John Dawes (OFI) and Marshall Meyers (PIJAC) were elected to new three-year terms, and Bruce Bunting was re-elected as the Chair. Spanish Translation of MAC Documents MAC is now in the process of translating many of its key documents into several different languages, beginning with Spanish. Currently, three informational sheets Beneficios de negocios de la Certificación de MAC, Porqué la Certificación es Necesaria para la Industria Marina de Acuarios and a background on the Marine Aquarium Council have been translated and can be accessed online at www.aquariumcouncil.org/webmediainfo.asp?whatsnew=on. Upcoming Events Marine Aquarium Hobbyist Day at the Aquarium of the Pacific (Long Beach, Jan. 26, 2003) Julian Sprung will be the keynote speaker at an exciting event to highlight the responsible marine ornamentals hobby and the role of MAC Certification. On Jan. 26, 2003, MAC will co-host the 'Marine Aquarium Hobbyist Day' at The Aquarium of the Pacific at Long Beach, Calif. Marine aquarium hobbyists will have free admission to the aquarium with a coupon being distributed through Southern California aquarium societies, Freshwater and Marine Aquarium magazine, Tropical Fish Hobbyist magazine, local live fish stores, etc. Aquarium visitors will be treated to a special series of talks and an assortment of exhibit booths featuring local marine aquarium retailers and other relevant organizations. The event is being co-sponsored by MAC and the Aquarium with assistance from Marineland's Speakers Program and SeaWeb. Plans are being developed for similar events in one or two other venues in 2003 as part of the launch of MAC Certified marine aquarium organisms in the US market. MAQTRAC Training (Cebu and Bohol, Philippines, March 31-April 2, 2003) Reef Check has worked with MAC to develop the 'Marine Aquarium Trade Coral Reef Monitoring Protocol' (MAQTRAC). It was initially field tested in the Philippines, Indonesia, Fiji, Hawaii and the Maldives from mid-2001 through mid-2002 and peer reviewed in two international workshops. MAQTRAC enables reef areas to be assessed and monitored on a consistent basis within the framework of MAC Certification, and, as reported above, it is being finalized through final testing in the Philippines. Reef Check will conduct training in the use of MAQTRAC from March 31 to April 2, 2003, in Cebu and Bohol, Philippines. The MAQTRAC training will take place following the International Tropical Marine Ecosystem Management Symposium (Manila, March 24-27). Registration information can be obtained at the Reef Check website at www.reefcheck.org. MAC in the Scientific Literature Sadovy, YJ and ACJ Vincent. 2002. Ecological Issues and the Trades in Live Reef Fishes. Pages 391-420. In Coral Reef Fishes: Dynamics and diversity in a complex ecosystem. PF Sale, ed. San Diego: Academic Press.

MAC, HCN testing, P.I. To All,  I am attaching a notification concerning a meeting in Manila, Philippines that will be concerned about monitoring methods for coral reefs (and coral reef/coastal/fisheries management) and how this relates to MAC Certification of the aquarium trade.  Recently, there has been much controversy about MAC standards and how MAC has certified certain collection sites and exporters. I would like to see all concerned parties attend the meeting in Manila. Can we get everyone concerned about these issues at the ITMEMS 2 (sponsored by the International Coral Reef Initiative) Conference (or at an associated meeting)? By this, I mean can we get people from the trade, the MAC, representatives from the collectors, as well as the coral reef scientists, fisheries and coastal managers (who are the focus of the conference)  together to debate these issues and hopefully come up with consensus and recommendations?  I think a meeting is needed, and this would be an excellent place and date for it. Peter Rubec, Ph.D. Senior Research Scientist International Marinelife Alliance Subj: Re: MAC CAMP program Peter, Thank you for taking the time to discuss your concerns regarding the MAC with me this morning.  Attached is the latest version of MAQTRAC, however, please note that it is still a draft and may yet receive changes.  We intend to solicit comments from all members of the discussion workshops upon completion of the protocol shortly after the first of the year. The website for ITMEMS 2 is listed below along with a copy of the announcement I recently placed on the coral list-serve. http://www.icriforum.org/itmems.html The recent postponement of ITMEMS 2 till March has given us the opportunity to change the session previously entitle "Collection Fisheries" to one that is focused exclusively on monitoring for the marine aquarium trade. We would like to use this opportunity to discuss the monitoring program that has been developed for MAC certification and how it is being applied to ensure the sustainable extraction of marine ornamentals. We welcome all interested parties to take part in this session as we feel there is much to be learned from the international application of the monitoring methods.  Please let me know if you are interested in participating in this case study so I can make the appropriate arrangements with the ITMEMS 2organizing committee.  In addition, please help distribute this message to other interested parties. Hopefully you will have the opportunity to attend the workshop so we can all work together to find solutions to the social and ecological problems within the ornamental industry. Thank you, Craig Shuman <><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><> Craig Shuman Reef Check Scientist Reef Check-UCLA Institute of the Environment 1362 Hershey Hall Box 95-1496 University of California at Los Angeles Los Angeles, CA 90095-1496 USA Tel: 310-869-6574              Fax:310-825-0758 Email: cshuman@ucla.edu   Web: www.ReefCheck.org

Re: MAC_01-07-2003.doc Tim, You make some excellent points about the MAC Certification program. I appreciate your concern for the collectors and their need for higher prices from the exporters. This is the only way that they will use nets to support the MAC Certification program. One can not expect collectors to spend more time collecting with nets (over using cyanide), maintain logbooks, and fill in paperwork to ISO standards (they need to hire someone educated to do it), and do all the special handling of the fish required by the MAC; if PFTEA exporters refuse to pay more for the fish than what is being paid for cyanide-caught fish. As far as your statement about why IMA did not test  more angelfish, triggers and tangs there are two points. First, random sampling was conducted in exporter's facilities. This means that fish were sampled in proportion to their overall abundance. Since, higher priced angelfish, triggers, and certain species of tangs were not abundant in exporter's facilities they were sampled less frequently. This probably indicates that these species are becoming rare on the reefs. Overall, 29% of the angelfish (family Pomacanthidae) had cyanide present compared to about 25% of the aquarium fish overall (from my paper In Press about CDT testing). So, it is not true that IMA did not sample angelfish in exporter's facilities (likewise the triggers and tangs were sampled). The second point is that it is true that exporters were reluctant to allow IMA's staff to sample angelfish and other high-priced species (hence the overall number of higher priced species like Majestic and Blueface angelfish tested by the CDT labs run by IMA for BFAR is quite low). I have mentioned this in the CDT rebuttal document that was provided to the MAC. You likewise expressed a reluctance to pay BFAR to analyze triggerfish and angelfish (since it requires killing them). Hence, even you would like to receive these species alive in a shipment,  rather than having them killed and tested for the presence of cyanide. I see that you (like me) received the short version of the Holthus reply to Josef Steiger. Why should there be both a long version and a short version? I downloaded the long version off of Mary Middlebrook's web site. You might send an email to Paul Holthus asking him why he did not distribute the long version.  I would welcome your thoughts on that document (attached to this email). Subj: Re: MAC_01-07-2003.doc Dear Paul, I will snip out portions of your letter which I have no response to and insert my comments where appropriate. >My personal goal, and the goal of MAC, is the same as yours - a lasting >program for the conservation of coral reefs. To this I would add that our >goal is also sustainability for the collectors, their communities and the >responsible marine aquarium trade and industry. This is my goal as well. A program of conservation and sustainable use by the collectors and their communities will only ensure the health and longevity of the coral reefs. Collectors/fisherfolk will only value coral reefs if it gives them a return, either money or food. If you take away their money, or make it too difficult to get, they will resort to the easiest and quickest method to extract food ... plunk .... boom. >MAC Certification is brand new and is a work in progress. We have a lot to >figure out as no one has ever tried to do create industry standards and >certification for an international, wild-capture trade in live animals. So >there are weaknesses and flaws in the system. We value constructive >criticism that helps to identify these and suggest ways to improve the >certification. Words only become constructive criticism when a positive change is made based on those words. If they are ignored then they are only meaningless wind. >  and the need to insure that the collectors realize tangible economic > benefits from certification. We recognize these as serious challenges > that MAC and its partners must address as a matter of highest priority." I noticed that you did not mention any steps that you are taking towards addressing these serious issues. Just more vagaries that something will be done in the future. When I worked at an International NGO, CIDA implemented a program called Results Based Management. No Results = No More Funding. >We are moving forward to develop, implement and improve MAC Certification. >We are responding to the concerns that have been raised by various groups >and working to achieve a balance among these. In particular, we are >expanding and moving more rapidly in our continuing efforts to ensure >there is a valid cyanide detection testing system. > >I am sending a detailed response to each of the in a separate letter and >will respond briefly here to the points you raised: > >Re Cyanide detection testing (CDT): >I agree that there should be random sampling of fish by a valid, effective >CDT. It is unfortunate that the previous testing system was not able to >fill this need. This is a priority for MAC and there will be important new >developments in the next few months in the Philippines on this front. I >can only concur with you that it would also be great if there was a test >for cyanide administered at the import level by a government agency or >independent NGO. We would be very interested to learn more about this from you. I thought I would dig up some old CDT permits from shipments from AMRI back in 2000. It was very interesting which fish were "Randomly Sampled". Lets see ... Green Chromis were in there several times as well as Mandarin Goby, Sixline Wrasses, Blue Damsels - Orange Tail and Firefish. Not once did I see Angels, Triggers or Tangs, the fish that are normally caught with cyanide. But at least if there was cyanide residues in the fish the ISE/Digestion test would have had a chance to pick it up. In the time since I have switched suppliers the test seems to be different as it is now administered by BFAR instead of the IMA. At least I can choose the fish I would like tested, such as Niger Trigger, Coral Beauty Angelfish etc. It's too bad that the test would not pick up any cyanide even if there was any. To add injury to insult the tests cost me 15usd each plus the cost of the fish. Last time for that!!! Perhaps a test on the import level is the way to do this. Less opportunity for abuse of the system etc. It will be pointless though if there is no legislation in place to give the test some teeth. >Re The limited supply of certified fish: >It is the first year for MAC Certification and we have to start somewhere >and I hope you agree that having some certified fish is better than none. >Nonetheless, we are also very concerned about the amount of certified >supply. The majority of our effort and personnel is focused on increasing >the certified supply, such as through partnership we are exploring with >CORL (the Coalition of Reef Lovers) on collector training and reef management. Ah, here is a good topic. On my most recent order (Jan 9th) from your first certified exporter and the certified collectors I was only able to get 2 Niger triggers. Anyways, I put them on my stocklist and eight customers tried to order both of them. On my previous shipment the same thing happened except there were only 13 instead of 2. Perhaps some effort in providing good supply to your one exporter who is trying to do it right would yield some good results?? btw. They both lived and are being shipped out tomorrow to a retail store that doesn't even care where or how they were caught! FYI. They were caught by collector 200, not that it really matters. >Re Certified and non-certified fish: >MAC Certified exporters must keep certified fish separate from >non-certified fish and clearly label them. MAC Certification applies >separately to: a) the MAC Certified facility and b) the MAC Certified fish >that come into the facility. As for any non-certified fish, the practices >for harvesting and handling these have not been assessed by anyone, so >there is simply no information about the origins or practices related to >these fish. To prevent blending of fish with "no information about the origins or practices related to these fish" all MAC certified exporters should have to buy from certified collectors. Back to the previous point! >Re The export association in the Philippines and fish prices: >The price that is paid for MAC Certified fish varies and I am not aware of >a set buying price for "clean" fish. We are facilitating communications >among the MAC Certified exporters, and between the certified exporters and >the MAC Certified collectors groups to improve the linkages and the access >to MAC Certified collectors and their fish. I will be meeting with both >groups this month. We are doing everything we can to support the >collectors that have become certified and want to stay certified. Thanks Paul, this is where I actually benefited from MAC. Some of the fish I buy from Marivi have dropped in price by 40% For example a coral beauty used to cost me 2.50, now they are only 1.50. Although some other exporters are down as low as .80. I wonder why they are so cheap???? It must be very hard for Marivi to compete now that a lot of the other exporters are now getting or are certified! >Re The collectors benefits and paperwork issues: >Collectors from the one group that was certified in 2002 have told me >personally that they are participating because of the benefits it brings >to them and I would invite you to visit the MAC Certified collectors. The >MAC and IMA seconded field staff spent a lot of time working with the >collectors to develop a logbook system achieves the balance of simplified >paperwork and reliable traceability and we are working out the "bugs" in >the system with the collectors by using it. Someone recently mentioned to me that the collectors have a name for the "show" that they put on when the "gringos" come around. I wonder what the literacy rate is amongst the collectors? When I saw, on the IMA website, pics of houses with cyanide bottles laying on the dinner table one has to wonder to what use the fishermen will put the pens and log books. Will their kids play with them too? If these fishermen can not be supplied with netting materials how are you going to make sure they have pens and log books? One would think the nets would be more important than pens and books. I have always wondered why certification did not include any hard protocol for fish holding and handling. i.e. Fish holding system must employ protein skimmers, etc. Fish must be fed. Sick fish must be medicated and not thrown out. Fish must be shipped with a minimum of "x" number of ml.s of water in the bag according to fish size and species. A special buffer (to prevent the pH in bag from dropping below 8.0) and ammonia neutralizer must be used. I guess in a round about way the 1% mortality takes care of this, except that the airlines are involved. Perhaps the airlines should be lobbied to put a higher priority on live fish instead of cut flowers or mail?? I recently "heard" that at Heathrow they now have 7 to 10 hour delays as the live fish shipments are only inspected at one location and there is quite a line up. Perhaps the import inspection procedures should be expedited for live animal shipments? These two previous suggestions could substantially reduce the needless mortality of fish, thus reducing harvest pressures on the reefs. I am more interested in healthy fish than needless paperwork. Hence I will invest my time in sourcing the best (quality and not price) suppliers and working with them to resolve shipping issues etc. I will also invest my time researching the best methods of husbandry, disease treatment and prevention and the mariculture of fish. Sincerely, Tim

MAC_01-07-2003.doc (Paul Holthus responds to Josef) Dear Josef, Thanks for taking the time to write on 7 January with your detailed comments on MAC Certification. I hope we can have a chance to meet again or talk on the phone about your concerns. My personal goal, and the goal of MAC, is the same as yours - a lasting program for the conservation of coral reefs. To this I would add that our goal is also sustainability for the collectors, their communities and the responsible marine aquarium trade and industry. MAC Certification is brand new and is a work in progress. We have a lot to figure out as no one has ever tried to do create industry standards and certification for an international, wild-capture trade in live animals. So there are weaknesses and flaws in the system. We value constructive criticism that helps to identify these and suggest ways to improve the certification. As the MAC Board of Directors stated in December 2002: "As the system develops and we learn, there will continue to be difficult issues that MAC must address, this includes issues such as the need to ensure verification of no cyanide use where this practice of fishing continues to be a problem; the need to expand net-training for collectors and reef management to ensure a sufficient supply of certified fish; and the need to insure that the collectors realize tangible economic benefits from certification. We recognize these as serious challenges that MAC and its partners must address as a matter of highest priority." We are moving forward to develop, implement and improve MAC Certification. We are responding to the concerns that have been raised by various groups and working to achieve a balance among these. In particular, we are expanding and moving more rapidly in our continuing efforts to ensure there is a valid cyanide detection testing system. I am sending a detailed response to each of the in a separate letter and will respond briefly here to the points you raised: Re Cyanide detection testing (CDT): I agree that there should be random sampling of fish by a valid, effective CDT. It is unfortunate that the previous testing system was not able to fill this need. This is a priority for MAC and there will be important new developments in the next few months in the Philippines on this front. I can only concur with you that it would also be great if there was a test for cyanide administered at the import level by a government agency or independent NGO. We would be very interested to learn more about this from you. Re The limited supply of certified fish: It is the first year for MAC Certification and we have to start somewhere and I hope you agree that having some certified fish is better than none. Nonetheless, we are also very concerned about the amount of certified supply. The majority of our effort and personnel is focused on increasing the certified supply, such as through partnership we are exploring with CORL (the Coalition of Reef Lovers) on collector training and reef management. Re Certified and non-certified fish: MAC Certified exporters must keep certified fish separate from non-certified fish and clearly label them. MAC Certification applies separately to: a) the MAC Certified facility and b) the MAC Certified fish that come into the facility. As for any non-certified fish, the practices for harvesting and handling these have not been assessed by anyone, so there is simply no information about the origins or practices related to these fish. Re The export association in the Philippines and fish prices: The price that is paid for MAC Certified fish varies and I am not aware of a set buying price for "clean" fish. We are facilitating communications among the MAC Certified exporters, and between the certified exporters and the MAC Certified collectors groups to improve the linkages and the access to MAC Certified collectors and their fish. I will be meeting with both groups this month. We are doing everything we can to support the collectors that have become certified and want to stay certified. Re Possible conflict of interest and the need for training: We agree completely that there should be no conflict of interest. That is why the certification is done by independent certifiers - completely separate from MAC - that are required to have an understanding of the industry and practices they are evaluating. I also agree that the training and education of collectors and exporters should be as standardized and we prefer that other organizations provide the training as much as possible. Re The collectors benefits and paperwork issues: Collectors from the one group that was certified in 2002 have told me personally that they are participating because of the benefits it brings to them and I would invite you to visit the MAC Certified collectors. The MAC and IMA seconded field staff spent a lot of time working with the collectors to develop a logbook system achieves the balance of simplified paperwork and reliable traceability and we are working out the "bugs" in the system with the collectors by using it. Re Communications with MAC in the Philippines: I apologize for the misunderstanding in November re the meeting. In fact, the MAC Philippines Coordinator was looking forward to talking to you as a follow up to the meeting that he had with you in August and the phone call I had with you then. In closing, I would encourage and invite you to visit and talk to MAC Certified collectors and their communities in the Philippines and to talk to MAC Board members, especially those in Europe. I will be in the Philippines in late January/early February and hope to meet with you if you are there at that time. Otherwise, I would be happy to make a special effort to meet with you, as I did last year in May, or get on the phone with you again to provide any additional response to further concerns you may have and ensure that you have full information from those involved in MAC. Sincerely, Paul Holthus P.S. I will copy this to those whom I am aware were provided a copy of your letter. I assume that you will also forward the above letter or my more detailed response to any others whom you feel should receive them.

Emails with Lolita Ty of Aquascapes Philippines Dear Bob and Mary, Appended below are emails exchanged between myself and Lolita Ty, who is the owner of Aquascapes Philippines and the President of the Philippine Tropical Fish Exporters Association (PFTEA),    So far she has not replied to my last email inviting her to participate in discussions concerning how to deal with the situation concerning "Greenwashing" or to solve the problems created by the fact that the PFTEA has refused to provide economic incentives to the net-collectors, who participated in the MAC Feasibility Study and the MAC CAMP trainings. You have my permission to post the information on your web sites.    Sincerely, Peter Rubec <Thank you Peter. Bob Fenner> Lolita, I already have ample information to justify my accusation that the MAC is "Greenwashing". Your threats will not change my opinions. You will not receive an apology from me other than possibly an acknowledgement about the fact that I was wrong concerning the number of exporters presently MAC Certified. If you want to engage in a constructive dialogue concerning how to resolve some of the problems with the net-collectors, and how to help rectify the present situation I am willing to listen, and to provide suggested solutions. We could carry out this dialogue either over the phone or by confidential emails whichever you prefer. Peter Rubec, Ph.D. Dear Peter, Hello.  Did you receive my e-mail yesterday? Since this scandal began with your December 7 letter, the responsibility to begin the resolution of the problem lies with you. You are the one who has to justify your action. It is not our responsibility to satisfy you with an explanation. When you are ready to engage in constructive dialogue, you can contact me. I am sure that you know that you have nothing to lose. After all, if you learn that you are right, then you can emphasize your position. If you learn that you are wrong, then you can correct your mistake and restore your professional reputation. Sincerely, Lolita Ty Dear Peter, The letter below, is my reply to Paul about your letter, but it is self-explanatory comment to your letter / opinion. Best regards, Lolita December 19, 2002 Dear Paul, On behalf of the PTFEA, I am writing regarding Peter Rubec's defamatory December 7 letter unfairly attacking MAC and affiliated organizations, including the PTFEA.  Allow me to address his unfounded accusations point-by-point, and to recommend corrective measures. <<RUBEC>> I heard that the number of PFTEA [sic] exporters certified by the MAC has grown.  Apparently, about 15 are now MAC certified. RESPONSE:  Rubec's statement that 15 PTFEA exporters are now MAC certified is an unfounded lie.  The truth is only 2 PTFEA members are certified, the rest are still in the process of certification.  Rubec's "apparent" conclusion is based only on what he has "heard."  As a scientist, Rubec knows that it is irresponsible and foolish to reach conclusions on second-hand rumors, as he has done, much less to act upon those empty conclusions. His opening statement is only the first of many lies in the rest of his letter. <<RUBEC>> 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. RESPONSE: This statement is Lie No.2, and is a grave insult to MAC, PTFEA, and my company Aquascapes.  MAC does not certify exporters; certification is done by another independent organization, (in our case, by IMS).  Needless to say, Rubec's statement reveals the depth of the ignorance underlying his accusations..  Claiming that Aquarium Habitat and HD Marineworld are the only ones" who have tried to do it right" and are now at a big disadvantage, is an even bigger lie.  Since there are only 3 MAC-certified exporters to date, the only other company he accuses of being a "certified exporter who sell[s] cyanide caught fish" is Aquascapes.  This accusation is a blatant lie. Aquascapes has always been an advocate of responsible fishing.  We started our net fishing program long before Haribon and IMA were organized.  Don McAllister (bless his soul) personally visited our company and facilities.  He may have even gotten the idea of mono filament net from us, when we showed it to him. To my knowledge, Aquascapes ("AQP") is the only company that has been able to hire a foreign diver to survey and train some of our fishermen in using net to collect LTF.  In fact, our CEO Richard Ty personally dived with him and some other fishermen.  As far as I know, AQP  is also the only the exporter ever to hire a British team to train our staff regarding the proper handling etc. of LTF.  In short, not only has AQP been a strong advocate of responsible fishing, but AQP has also been practicing the MAC standard for handling and transporting fish ever since we started in 1973.  Although much of our efforts are not documented, they are nonetheless very real. As for Aquarium Habitat supposedly being "at a big disadvantage," the evidence shows that in fact, Aquarium Habitat is the primary recipient of many MAC benefits.  First, as Rubec admits, Aquarium Habitat sells MAC-certified fish, and has priority over all MAC certified suppliers, despite PTFEA's material support to these suppliers.  Second, the brand new MAC brochure is otherwise good except that with Aquarium Habitat's owner in it, it looks more like their brochure.  Since the MAC is affiliated with many exporters, it should have given equal publicity to all affiliated exporters.  In summary, Aquarium Habitat has received many MAC advantages.  However, it takes more than all the MAC certified suppliers to be in business.  A few of her customers informed us that her fish quality is not good at all, which is why they stopped buying from her after 1-2 shipments.  If so, her failure is attributable to her lack of business experience or other factors completely unrelated to Rubec's accusations. <<RUBEC>>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 [sic] 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). RESPONSE:  First, Rubec reveals his bias by admitting his suspicion.  Thus, instead of actively searching for the truth, Rubec merely attempted to give life to his conjectures.   Rubec's claim that MAC certifies PTFEA exporters without the proper collection and holding standards is a libelous statement against HD and Aquascapes (both PTFEA members).  My company's holding facilities are designed based on concepts used in the best facilities in USA and London.  It was installed by Jim Maloney of Hawaii who was working with Quality Marine in Los Angeles at that time.  Our equipment were imported from USA and Europe. We have never stopped upgrading our facilities even now. With respect to collection, our suppliers were trained to use net to collect fish. As an added incentive, PTFEA commissioned custom-made monofilament nets to give away to our suppliers.  Our government has also continuously implemented the anti-illegal fishing law which greatly reduced such practices. <<RUBEC>>Hence, the MAC is a fraud. You may copy this message to others in the trade if you wish. RESPONSE:  Declaring MAC is a fraud is a libelous statement, particularly where there is no evidence to substantiate the accusation. If Rubec was truly concerned with solving environmental problems, he should have voiced his concerns in a proper forum, which allows all parties to present evidence.  Instead, Rubec engaged in what amounts to a treacherous mudslinging campaign based on nothing more than rumors and wild speculation.  Rubec's accusations, which he knowingly made without real evidence, was at least reckless if not intentional, and thus constitutes malicious defamation.  His insolent and arrogant challenge to publish his letter also shows a desire to cause widespread harm.  He must be reprimanded officially in the form of a sanction, and he must be commanded to ameliorate the harm of his grave transgression by publishing and circulating an apology and a retraction.  Although some laws protect some speech to a certain extent, Rubec's accusations have gone far beyond anyone's speech rights because they are injurious to MAC's PTFEA's, and other companies' businesses, and thus they constitute actionable libel.  Therefore I also recommend legal action against him to compensate for the harm we have suffered, and to remind him and others that it is not a matter of joke to spread unfounded rumors and lies.  Any person who published and adopted Rubec's statements without checking the facts should similarly be held accountable. Sincerely, Lolita Ty President, Philippine Tropical Fish Exporters Ass'n and Aquascapes Philippines Co.

REPORT TO MAC Dear Ms. Lolita Ty, Since I mentioned you in my recent report to Mr. Paul Holthus, it is only fair to send you a copy of this letter. Sorry for the delay of informing you, but I didn't have your email address before. To make it clear: I don't have anything against MAC. In contrary, the idea to support a clean and sustainable market and to certify collectors, exporters, wholesalers and pet shops that follow proper collection and holding standards, is really good. But what MAC in the Philippines did and still do, is a step backwards and worsen the situation from before. As I heard, you accused Dr. Peter Rubec that he unfairly attacked MAC and PTFEA in his letter dated December 7, 2002  and that he is a liar. If you carefully read my report to Paul Holthus and the resignation letter of Mr. Ferdinand Cruz, (did you already get a copy from Paul?) as well, it comes easily out who is the liar. You recommended legal action against Peter Rubec (and may be against me too, after you read my statement?). Please go ahead, this would be the best what could happen! People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones! You claim that your company's holding facilities "are designed based on concepts used in the best facilities in USA and London". Please take note that not even the newest and best equipment facilities guarantee for good quality and healthy fish. The fish that we get now from high tech facilities are really poor, comparing with 15 years ago. My 1000 l (264 gallon) Aquarium was equipped only with a biological filter (coral sand and synthetic wool), but most of the fish grew old: e.g. Majestic Angel 18 years, Blue Tang and Powder Brown 16 years, Queen Trigger 15 years, Emperor Angel (one pair) and Pink Tail Trigger 12 years.    You furthermore stated that your company Aquascapes started a net training program long before IMA and MAC. If you know for certain that all your fish are clean and caught without using any chemicals, can you allow to a delegation from Swiss Animal Protection (NGO) to collect randomized samples in your farm and test it for cyanide? Tests could be done in the Philippines under supervision of an independent chemist from abroad. I can't wait to know your decision. Sincerely,    Josef Steiger KFI GmbH  & Asia Adventures Ergolzstrasse 20 4414 Fuellinsdorf Switzerland Tel. +41-61-903 12 12 Mobile: +41-76-377 12 12 FAX: +41-61-903 12 14 Email : marineworld@tisclinet.ch           manadodive@aol.com

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