Future of our Hobby?

Discussion in 'Unique Corals' started by Pickupman66, Sep 4, 2014.

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  1. Pickupman66

    Pickupman66 Tassled File Fish

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    Scott and Unique Corals folks, I hope you dont mind me bringing your article to this forum. I didnt feel it could just be linked so in its entirety, I copied it here. if I stepped on toes, my sincere apologies. It needs to be everywhere.

    3reefers, Scott Fellman posted this yesterday and EVERYONE here needs to read it.

    The Reef Hobby- An Endangered Species?
    Back from MACNA, and we’re sort of easing into the post-conference tasks ahead, getting ready for the busy “coral season.”

    And guess what?

    The hobby is in trouble. Again.

    Yeah, really. It’s not “in a few years…” It’s not “At some point in the near future…” It’s not “Eventually…”

    It’s right now.





    Don't believe me? Take a look:

    NOAA Lists 20 New Corals as Threatened Under the Endangered Species Act. :: NOAA Fisheries

    The U.S. Government has enacted legislation that can seriously impact- or even end- the reef hobby as we know it. Protections for 15 Indo Pacific species have been afforded, meaning that they will be listed as threatened. Species listed include members of the genus Acropora, Euphyllia, and others.

    The collection, importation, and distribution of these corals is essentially illegal. And this is just the beginning. According to some observers, this listing might extend to the genus level, meaning that trade in all Acropora, for example, could be considered off limits-banned entirely, or at best, severely restricted. In other words, the legislation is so sweeping that, regardless of how the corals were sourced, they could be off limits to commerce.

    Look, I am all for passing legislation that protects the reefs, up to and including bans on legitimately endangered species. But the implication that these, or any species, was severely affected solely because of the ornamental aquarium trade is biased, inaccurate, and downright unfair. The problem here is that this opens the door to far more sweeping, far more restrictive general bans.

    It means that even maricultured, aquacultured, and otherwise captive-propagated corals could be illegal to sell or purchase. They would be treated in the same sweeping manner as if you were trying to sell White Tigers or some other endangered animals. Under this type of ban, the club frag swap would be as illegal as a bunch of drug dealers swapping samples of crack. Yep.

    This is the real deal. The end of the line for our innocence. It's the sum of all fears… All of the corals that we frag, propagate, and, yes- treasure, could be, in theory, removed from our hobby altogether. For that matter, our hobby could be removed altogether.

    Despite the apparently reviewing enormous amounts of scientific data, government legislators came to the conclusion that the aquarium trade is more damaging to the reefs than say, recreational yachting, tuna fishing, agricultural runoff, bilge pumping, and “eco tourism.”

    Despite the fact that the reef aquarium hobby and associated coral propagation industry is absolutely saturated with conscientious purveyors who have worked to grow out thousands of coral frags in their facilities over the years so that wild collection would become unnecessary.

    Is it the final countdown? Time to party “like it’s 1999?"

    Who knows for sure at this point?

    What we do know is that this legislation represents the biggest threat to the hobby yet.

    A celebration must be in order for “Snorkel Bob”, “For the Fishes”, and the other “reef hugger” pseudo-“environmentalist” groups, their reactionary, ill-informed masses, and their ridiculously perverted, largely mis-directed agendas. Through their highly publicized, over-the-top, ridiculously exaggerated and hyper-inflated “data” showing the “egregious" amount of damage the aquarium trade has done to the coral reefs, they may have dealt a decisive blow to a largely responsible, multi-million dollar industry that employs tens of thousands of people worldwide.

    Hmm…The aquarium industry causes more damage to corals than a bunch of ignorant, sunblock-smeared tourists flailing about wildly with their rented swim fins over delicate coral reefs, after being delivered by boats with diesel-powered engines and bilge pumps, could do? Apparently so. The mind boggles…

    A vivid memory of mine from MACNA in Dallas was when none other than Jean-Michel Cousteau, who, after walking the show floor filled with dozens of coral vendors offering propagated frags, and manufacturers hawking highly advanced equipment for coral care, literally muttered to himself, “I had no idea…”

    Why is that? Because we- and that includes many of us in the reef keeping world- hobbyists, vendors, manufacturers- the whole ball of wax- have done a not-so-good job of letting the rest of the non-aquarium-keeping world know that we’re actually a bunch of really cool people who definitely give a darn about the state of the world’s reefs, probably more than the very people, loud though they may be, who are trying to shut down the hobby forever.

    Yeah, we got a beat down from a bunch of people who have no clue whatsoever about what the hobby and industry are really like; our ethos, values, and how minimal our impact really is compared to virtually every other threat to the reefs, and to corals in particular.

    We are the proverbial “low hanging fruit”- the easiest of the potential targets…Our lobbying power is, apparently, the weakest of all of the apparent groups associated with damage to coral reefs.

    So, to a reefer- ALL corals will truly become “LE”- won’t they?

    We flat out screwed up. I know I did.

    Yes, this is our wake up call. I’m giving all of us the proverbial “b- - - - slap.” And I’m starting with myself.

    Instead of writing an article about how the reef hobby is virtually the stewards of the reefs for an airline magazine, National Geographic, or the New York Times, I have been writing pieces about aquascaping and why you should grow macro algae in your sump. I’ve been lecturing about nutrient control and export at MACNA, instead of urging my fellow reefers to become empowered and rally behind those fighting the external threats facing the hobby.

    We go nuts on forums and argue about the merits of ULNS, zeolites, what protein skimmer is the best, and which version of the @$@#$%# Acropora is the “real deal”, when, in reality, we all need to be just devoting a fraction of that time telling the non-reefing world about all of the cool stuff we do with corals. Most speakers and authors, such as myself, give a mere passing reference to the problems facing our industry during our talks, and don’t effectively use our “influence” and notoriety to let the outside world know that WE are the true conservationists here.

    We don’t “vote with our pocketbooks” enough, making a loud enough tussle to discourage those within our industry from supporting non-sustainable livestock operations and suppliers.


    And what did we do to stop this stuff as a hobby and industry?

    Not a whole lot, actually. Yeah, I’m calling us all out again: Hobbyists, industry people too. "STARS" OF AQUARIUM-BASED TV SHOWS!! Where are you guys when you could really do some good at reaching a broader audience than virtually anyone else in the aquatics field at the moment? You think that just because you build aquariums for ignorant masses that the potential ban doesn't affect YOU?

    Crickets.

    Silence.

    We collectively bury our head in the sand year after year, hoping that “they” in some industry lobby that we have made little effort to learn about (PIJAC) can maneuver to stop these bills from being implemented, without our support, save an occasional "attaboy" or nod to an industry advocate like Ret Talbot. We hear the talks at conferences, but we continue to believe that these things are the vague and pointless ramblings of a few “Chicken Littles”, claiming that the sky is falling.

    Guess what? The sky IS falling. It actually fell. We screwed around too long, and now the Clownfish are coming home to the anemone for good. The “environmentalists”, in their zealous, unfocused frenzy to get some progress by taking out ANY available target, are mobilized and winning this battle.

    How serious is it this time? Well, at MACNA, I had occasion to talk to two of the guys leading the charge for the industry against this threat, ORA’s Dustin Dorton, and Live Aquaria’s Kevin Kohen. Both of these guys were visibly disturbed by the NOAA ruling, and when guys of this caliber get shaken, it’s time for all of us to take it very seriously.

    Am I overreacting here? I don't think so- not this time.


    Okay, I’ve pointed out what we did wrong. It’s time to talk about what we can do to help.

    First, individual hobbyists can spark wider discussions about these topics on the message boards…We need to really let everyone know what’s going on. We need to encourage individuals, clubs, stores, vendors, and anyone associated with the hobby/industry to send monetary donations to the PIJAC (Pet Industry Join Advisory Council):

    PIJAC Marine Ornamental Defense Fund 1146 19th Street NW, Suite 350 Washington, D.C. 20036

    You can call them at 202-452-1525x1020, or find out more information at PIJAC.org/marine

    All monies collected will be used to help pay the cost for PIJAC’s legal team fight this legislation, and will go directly to protecting the marine ornamentals hobby.

    If you think that you can’t get your friends to donate easily, I suggest a grassroots Facebook campaign similar to that used for the “ALS Ice Bucket Challenge”- perhaps the PIJAC “Salt Bucket Challenge”, whatever…call out your friends, fellow vendors, industry and non-industry types! Something. Anything.

    Second, clubs can have frag swap events and raffles to donate a portion of the proceeds to this fund. Even more important, clubs and even individual hobbyists should reach out into the broader aquarium hobby, and even to the non-aquarium hobby, to solicit support and donations to help this cause.

    The detractors are taking our hobby away from the very people who have the most respect and love for the reefs- US! It’s time we fight back…but not with venom and frustration. We need to fight back by letting the rest of the world know the real facts about the impact of our hobby and industry on the wild reefs, and the true amount of concern and caring that we have for these irreplaceable natural resources. If we’ve ever needed to take a stand- now is truly the time.

    We need to channel that well-known passion that we all have for this hobby to fight for its accurate representation to the non aquarium world, and indeed, its very survival.

    Yes, the reefs are in trouble. And no- our hobby is not the sole cause of it, or even a significant cause of it. We as a group must show no tolerance for non-sustaibale, unethical practices that can endanger these priceless natural resources. We need to let the legislators know that we care more than they could ever imagine, and that we need to enact legislation against those who truly are destroying the reefs without regard for their well-being.

    Are we up to the challenge?

    Yeah, I think we are…as long as we get our heads out of the sand an accept this legislation as the very real threat that it is, and mobilize our considerable resources to fight it.

    The future of this hobby depends on it.

    Stay on top of things…Stay focused on the real issues, support the good being done by hobbyists every day-and let others know. Do some real good.

    And stay wet…

    Scott Fellman
     
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  3. SaltyClown

    SaltyClown Sea Dragon

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    The world knows that coral reef are in trouble, all around the oceans. Even though I'm for conservation, I'll never believe that coral reefs are dying off from the reef hobby.

    If you have Netflix, watch the documentary, Mission Blue. It's very good, it shows footage of the ocean and reefs from the 50's, 60's & 70's. Then shows the ocean and reefs as of 2014...wow was it amazing, we really missed out. They say and show that it's pollution and over fishing for food.
     
  4. Kevin_E

    Kevin_E Giant Squid

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    Riding ocean temperatures (bleaching) and acidification is a bigger issue than harvesting.

    However, I think that article was a severe overreaction. The list was already cut by 66% from the original proposal. Placing a ban on elkhorn and staghorn hasn't effected the hobby one iota and many of the coral listed are so rare that they aren't really a mainstay within in reefing hobby anyways.
     
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  5. Va Reef

    Va Reef Giant Squid

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    I think the point here is that if we don't get involved, some of the more common corals will become unavailable/unobtainable.

    Anyone can go on youtube and search how the aquarium hobby destroys reefs, thousands of videos come up, yet where are the videos showing how we've also been the reef's greatest help in some cases? Another point brought up in the article, its not just about the reefs, but the people too. Many wild collectors only get $5 for a fish that retails for $100, but that puts food on their plates. On top of that, a ban in a third world country HARDLY means anything. Cyanide fishing is banned, yet still used pretty heavily in some areas. I also doubt many of these countries would implicate the ban due to the amount of income they make off collection (and as the article mentioned, tourism too.)

    You must also notice that these people who are so "for the reefs" will never stop. They may push heavily for banning collecting certain fish or coral off one reef, and once that law is passed, they'll move to the next species/target. As the article pointed out, most of these people honestly have no idea what they're talking about. Anyone can say that "we" destroy the reefs with our hobby by collecting straight from the reefs, however most will fail to mention the amount of aquaculturing that has occurred and how significantly that has effected reefs.

    Interesting to see this article because I planned on writing a research paper for one of my college writing classes on the effects of the hobby on coral reefs (good and bad).
     
  6. mikejrice

    mikejrice 3reef Affiliate

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    If the species they put on the list are indeed threatened than they should be put on that list for their protection and if that happens to be a species that's impossible to tell apart from others in bags than of course those can't be allowed in either. If we can't properly identify these species by looking at them through a bag, how can we expect them to? In my opinion, we need to focus on identification which allows the protection of individual species or we're sunk.
     
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  7. zesty

    zesty Sailfin Tang

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    This is something that I saw on the other thread. Customs or whomever/whatever agency is checking these to be shipped over to the states/elsewhere aren't going to know the difference between species of the corals when, myself included, can't tell the difference between certain corals. They will see bags of coral and just throw them out. Now what is that going to do? not a dang thing but make people find alternate routes.

    This being said, I think our community of reefheads are a super diverse bunch of crazy cool people. I think this awareness is good to be out there for us to get something going to help prevent more of these "outbreaks" of fear of our hobby. It's everyone's, not just reefers, but everyone's due diligence to protect our natural resources. There's unlimited ways of doing this, most we don't even know about yet. However, I find it very hard to swallow that our hobby is endangering the life of these reefs. But, I say that with 0 experience in that area, it just seems that the "big fish" (pun intended) should be gone after first with the route of pollution, dumping, etc.
     
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  9. Billme

    Billme Eyelash Blennie

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    Gee. That's not political.:D
     
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  10. Pickupman66

    Pickupman66 Tassled File Fish

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    Thats kinda the point. this is an issue that (unfortunately for a non-political community) has political implications and actions. I dont care of anyone's political preferences here, but I do care about being able to house and trade coral. I am a conservative person. I vote conservatively. The EPA is currently working on legislation that will ban a majority of the products my company manufacturers (wood burning stoves) because of smoke output. We are forced to produce a cleaner burning product. Unfortunately this means a more expensive product because of research, development, testing and certification processes. Americans wont want to buy this more expensive product because the return on investment is less. they will keep and repair their older dirty burning stoves and thus, the BAN that the EPA put in place just puts companies out of business and Americans out of work.
     
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  11. zesty

    zesty Sailfin Tang

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    Couldn't agree more. When restrictions are put in place, people are crafty individuals. If they want to do something, they are going to do it, they'll just find a new way. Look at what they create in prisons, I'm friends with some guards and the stories of what they come up with to get something done is crazy what they'll do.

    At my last job, the coal plants that someone shut down hurt that company. It's switching over to natural gas because it's cheaper and less pollutants. What's that going to do to the price of natural gas, it's going to go up just like the price of any other commodity in demand. It just doesn't seem like these things are making sense to me. I'm not saying I'm for polluting the air with poorly filtered coal plants. But to throw these requirements down that cost more to conform to than to just shut the plant down, so that's what happened. Lots of jobs lost there.

    Sorry, got a little off-topic there.
     
  12. Kevin_E

    Kevin_E Giant Squid

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    If they need to be, then they should be.

    However, aquaculture and maricultured should not be included in the discussion and I am not certain that it is or will be.
     
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