While the bulk of MAC operational work is currently focused on working with collectors and their communities to increase the supply of MAC Certified marine ornamentals coming from managed reef areas, developing the demand side is also key to promoting a sustainable marine aquarium trade and hobby. Private, public and corporate aquarists concerned about the future of the hobby and the coral reefs and communities of collectors who supply the trade recognize their important role and are working to educate others about it.
In covering the Marine Ornamentals ’04 conference for the Advanced Aquarist’s Online Magazine , Doug Robbins notes, ‘ It is imperative that hobbyists demand healthy organisms that have a chance to live for a substantial period in their tanks and to put their money where their mouths are by being willing to pay a premium for such specimens. We must support our best providers-the conscientious collectors and risk-taking mariculturists.’ Earlier in the same piece he says, ‘Whatever the exact average mortality figures may be, even if they turn out to be somewhat lower [than the reported 30 to 60 percent], they are clearly unacceptable. MAC’s solution is to work to establish ‘standards and procedures’ for each link in the chain to reduce mortality and to use a certification process to encourage participation. Ultimately choices will have to be made by hobbyists to support these efforts by insisting on livestock captured and moved by acceptable standards….’
Robert Tess, a Marine Aquarium Societies of North America (MASNA) board member, shared similar thoughts in the Winter 2004 issue of Marine Scene : ‘Whether it’s supporting organizations like CITES and MAC, demanding net caught fish, buying aqua-cultured corals or even just trading frags to newbies, every aquarist bears the responsibility for reef and marine life preservation.’
Hobbyist preferences for healthy organisms caught with non-destructive methods from managed fisheries will drive retailers to seek and support responsible collectors and wholesalers. This in turn will help conserve coral reefs, sustain the trade and ensure the health of the marine aquarium organisms that are moving … from Reef to Retail and into your aquarium!