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The reefs around the Indonesian archipelago are packed with tiny colourful fish and invertebrates, the very creatures that are so popular in marine aquariums. This has resulted in them being captured and exported in large numbers, mainly to North America, Europe and Japan.
While collection of animals for the aquarium trade could be a sustainable way to exploit natural resources and encourage reef conservation, it can also be the cause of much harm.
Overexploitation of rare species poses a serious conservation issue while the methods of capture, including the use of cyanide and dynamite, sometimes physically destroy the reefs. Animal welfare issues arise during packing and transportation.
Indonesia scarcely polices this fast-growing trade at all. Regulation is urgently needed if marine aquariums are not to become yet another major threat to fragile reef ecosystems.
Ask the Indonesian government to take immediate action to rectify this gap in environmental policy.
We the undersigned ask that you take action to regulate the capture and sale of marine fish and invertebrates for the aquarium trade. Although this could be a sustainable way to use coastal environments, boosting local economies and indirectly assisting with reef conservation, as things stand, the practice poses serious conservation issues.
We ask that you enforce a ban on the use of destructive capture methods and ensure that no more organisms from any particular species are taken than populations can sustain. We also request regulation on handling, packing and transport methods. Encouraging the sustainable aquaculture of aquarium creatures would also help.
This would involve comprehensive legislation and management policies, but in the long term would ensure the survival of the reefs, the organisms concerned, the aquarium trade itself and tourism based on reef wildlife.
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