Putting science behind RI's ornamental fish industry

For decades international collectors discussed Indonesia's trade in ornamental fish only in hushed tones.

The environmental damage to the nation's marine reefs caused by stunning fish with illegal potassium cyanide had placed Indonesia's export of aquarium fish on the questionable practices list overseas while drawing much criticism from environmentalists and the fishing industry at home.

A group of marine biologists and divers, backed by government regulations, are now helping ornamental fishermen rethink their collection techniques, with environmental and economically sustainable results.

With training from the Indonesian Nature Foundation (LINI), aquarium fish harvesters in many parts of Indonesia are now using small-gauge nets to gather targeted fish species, allowing coral reef to replenish itself.

The soft nets reduce injury to the fish, which are again breeding well thanks to no-take zones. These serve as miniature marine reserves, allowing for breeding and a safe haven for fish agreed to by the fishermen.

Aquarium fish divers have often sprayed collectible fish with potassium cyanide to stun them, which also kills off the nearby coral. Unbridled use of potassium cyanide was killing off the very reefs which serve as the breeding ground and living habitat for many aquarium and food fish species. The harvesters were in effect killing the golden goose.

Aquarium News article courtesy of: The Jarkarta Post

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