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An Inside Look at the Marine Fish Industry: How Improper Handling Affects You and the Environment

By Kevin Kohen
An Inside Look at the Marine Fish Industry: How Improper Handling Affects You and the Environment

The health of aquarium fish is directly related to the collection practices, holding and husbandry techniques, as well as proper packaging methods employed by everyone in the chain of distribution.

If fish are captured with chemicals or are overstocked in inadequate holding containers (e.g., overcrowded buckets or plastic bags without filtered water, oxygenation, or temperature stabilization) they are exposed to undue stress that directly affects their survivability and overall health.

  • Use of Chemicals - For decades, the practice of capturing fish with chemicals such as cyanide has been prevalent for many collectors in the Philippines and Indonesia. This collection method has a long lasting, detrimental effect on reef organisms and kills corals and other precious habitat. Fortunately, responsible and well-trained collectors in these regions only use nets for collection. In addition, new net-training programs are being implemented in the Philippines and collectors receive proper mesh netting and equipment, and are trained on responsible collection methods and safe diving protocols. 

  • Improper Handling - Every time fish are caught, bagged, transported and then acclimated into a new environment, they are subjected to stress. Additional stress is placed upon fish when too many species of fish are improperly maintained or packed and transported in less than ideal manners. The cumulative stress placed on fish increases in longer supply chains as the potential for improper handling of fish increases with each passing hand. Quite simply, the more hands that handle the fish, the greater the potential for added stress.

Because there are literally thousands of collectors and hundreds of middlemen and exporters in the Philippines and Indonesia alone, it is often difficult to determine if the utmost care was taken during every step along the journey to ensure the healthiest, best possible fish for the hobbyist.

Part 1
Collection & Handling
| Part 2
How Improper Handling Affects You
| Part 3
What Can You Do?
| Part 4
What is Doing?


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