In my many years of reefing as a hobbyist and as a professional I continue to see wasteful and harmful practices when it comes to making responsible choices in selecting aquarium fish. Reefers walk into a store, buy what looks good or what the LFS suggests and take it home.
As a consumer you have the power to make a difference! By carefully choosing your aquarium fish we will continue to contribute to the health of coral reefs around the world.
Many of you are familiar with the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program. These quad-fold guides are passed out internationally to seafood consumers to educate them on the best choices for consumption. By changing the consumer’s behavior, the restaurants will change their behavior, and the fisheries will be pressured to change.
An aquarium education movement, equal in distribution and intensity to the Seafood Watch program not only should happen but needs to happen. Not only should reefers and professional aquarists be looking for healthy fish, but they should be looking for sustainable healthy fish.
Well, to my recent surprise, I came across the website for Reef Protection International, and their quad-fold Reef Fish Guide (http://www.reefprotect.org/fish_guide.htm ). This guide, put together with assistance from their Scientific Advisory Panel (http://www.reefprotect.org/board_advisors.htm ), is designed to impart a sense of responsibility and to empower consumers to make informed buying choices based on reliable information.
Please remember that captive-bred fish should always be the ones that you purchase. This includes clownfish, gobies and cardinalfish.
I suggest that you all take a look at the RPI Reef Fish Guide and bring it with you the next time you go to your LFS or local club meeting!
In the end, everyone needs to be on-board the sustainable aquarium movement. Consumers need to be educated, retailers need to choose stock from the appropriate suppliers, and suppliers need to use methods that are sustainable.
For more information check out this recent Slate article: http://www.slate.com/id/2221024/