Article by Ret Talbot

sdcfish

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Just reading a recent article by Ret Talbot about Ecolabeling the Aquarium Industry....I wanted to get some opinions about the article:

Talbot writes:
"Not unlike many of the industries named above, the marine aquarium industry has a poor track record when it comes to providing transparent, verifiable information about the real impacts of harvesting marine animals for the aquarium trade".

I am just wondering where the poor track record comes from? Does Ret know about requests for impact studies that have not been provided? I am not sure many impact studies for the aquarium trade have actually been done, but of course cites quotas, and animals exported for the trade that fall under cites (all corals, live rock, clams, seahorses etc) are very transparent and part of a managed system...you would just need to know where to look (USFWL or CITES). I also know that most everywhere that has Aquarium Industry activity, there are licenses, permits, reporting etc.....which is usually managed by the local governments fishery. I think a more practical statement here would have been that there are few impact studies done up to this point about the aquarium industry relative to ornamental fish collection. I say "ornamental fish", because corals and other animals protected under cites, do have a system in place, and have many years of monitoring, with yearly assessments being done.

Talbot also writes:
"Unfortunately, too many of the animals entering the trade have been harvested from unsustainable fisheries by fishers who have been exploited literally to death in extreme cases. Entire reef ecosystems have been negatively impacted, as have local fishers, their families and their communities".

OUCH! I wonder what unsustainable fisheries he's talking about? Does Ret have a good reason to believe that too many animals are coming from unsustainable fisheries? I wonder where the studies are that show we have unsustainable fisheries? Anyone??? Exploited fisherman? Really?? I don't know about Ret, but I know that most divers working in the Aquarium Trade can actually earn more than that Country's average weekly pay. What really is the definition of exploitation anyway....when you put it into relevance? I don't see too many Aquarium Industry operators driving Ferrari's and Rolls Royces....but I do see an industry that does not have big money behind it. With all the labor and expenses this industry demands, simply because you buy something for a nickel and sell it for a dollar doesn't really tell you anything about the profitability due to the high costs of doing business in this trade. The death comment is a sad one, as I have heard of fisherman dying while diving for aquarium related products. Not sure of all the facts, but I would guess that this industry has a lower death rate than most in certain countries, and most industries have some dangers to them. Again...it's all relative and I found this comment to be out of context and unfair to the industry. I believe much more good has been achieved than bad. The "Families and Communities" comment is quite the opposite in most cases where in more cases than not, the industry provides huge benefits to coastal communities and the families that participate.

Talbot also writes about the possibilities of ecolabeling:
"Without it—and, more importantly, without the transparency, documentation and source country impacts that should come with it—there is little hope the trade will be able to defend itself against those who are seeking to shut it down with ever increasing vigor. "

Again...the transparency thing and Ret accusing the industry of not being transparent bothers me. I have never refused to give out information about our business when asked by a legitimate source....and I don't know of anyone, anywhere else who had refused. Maybe Ret is just looking for someone to compile all the information ever recorded, summarize it and post it on a website somewhere, but considering the relatively short lived Marine Aquarium Industry (especially compared to the Freshwater Industry), these types of studies have not yet been done in such great capacity...but some are definitely out there to be read by the public.

What ever happened to "Innocent until proven guilty"? The way Ret portray's the industry's position, it just makes me feel like we are already being made to look guilty, without any evidence or stated facts. I expect a writer to provide documented statistics if they are going to make accusations about something. For Ret to make such a comment about so many unsustainable fisheries....wouldn't he need to have a long list of studies showing unsustainability?

Maybe it's just me....but I want to be fair to Ret (I like Ret actually) and his portrayal of the industry in this article...so looking for some input about it...here's the link if anyone's interested http://www.reefs.com/blog/2011/12/27/ec ... ium-trade/

I am all for ecolabeling.....and hope that the future for the industry does have a positive outlook. After all, the industry has made tremendous strides over the last 20 years alone relating to, but not limited to better collecting methods and shipping techniques. Night and Day differences!

Hope you all find the topic interesting......I appreciate your comments.
 
A

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" I have never refused to give out information about our business when asked by a legitimate source....and I don't know of anyone, anywhere else who had refused. "

:lol:

What a load of disingenuous rhetoric. Since when do *you* get to determine the 'legitimacy' of an inquiring 'source'?


I've seen first hand what mortality and blatant waste runs rampant at a typical importer/wholesaler around the LAX area, and have yet to see ONE that would give an honest accounting (voluntarily or otherwise) of how much of the world's reefs precious livestock gets tossed into dumpsters on a weekly/monthly/yearly basis from their facilities.

In hard actual numbers,(i.e. Individual fish) how many of the following either arrive doa, or die before you can sell them to your retail customers? (Per week, average).

Damsels
Dwarf angels
6lines
Coral obligate butterflies
Euphyllia sp. corals

(Hint-not knowing or knowing who I am is not a legitimacy determining criterium).

Time to see just how honest and genuine you (or any other importer who cares to chime in, for that matter) really are. ;)

Btw- I have no association present or past w/ Ret Talbot, nor present w/the wholesale/import biz. What I witnessed was enough to convince me that:
a) The import MO biz should have been shut down years ago, and
b) Just the waste from shipping mortality makes the MO biz unsustainable- no need to even go into the deplorable collection and holding practices on the export side of the COC.

I eagerly await your honest and sincere reply :)
 

sdcfish

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Gargle,

Do you want to reply to my questions about the article? Your comments are way off topic, but feel free to start a new thread.

If you want to know what information I have recently provided, you can wait and read the studies soon to be published. Oddly enough....not too many people or organizations ask, but I can tell you that certain people I have been open with just are non-believers (like yourself I suppose) and make honest people like me become a bit jaded. Start a new thread if mortality is something of interest to you. That's not really what this thread is about.

I made my comments in good faith, and was hoping to start up some productive dialogue.....please feel free to share your constructive thoughts.

Eric
 

sdcfish

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Gargle

I am not sure I appreciate your efforts to constructively engage in the discussion, and seems you are just fishing for a fight.

I really want to talk about our industry and how it's perceived. I have read many of Ret's articles and didn't agree with some of the things he wrote about in the article I have mentioned here. Do you have an opinion of the article?

If you want to know hard numbers on doas, come do a study and report it. My door is open! I am located in Los Angeles, and would be happy for you to come do a study for us all to review and discuss.

I have never felt that we have anything to hide.....ever. When I mentioned "legitimate people" asking for information.....I was more thinking of competitors rather than a hobbyist, or a student, or an association etc....which I have dealt with openly on many levels. That's really what I meant.

We have done studies with Oregon State University and openly shared mortality reports with them for 2 years! We tested hundreds of fish samples taking very delicate steps to acquire tissue samples, blood samples and scrapings that were labeled, and analyzed, later to be presented by Oregon State about Shipping Stress Disorders. We traveled to the suppliers as part of the study. I don't see how we have ever been closed about sharing information. Some things in business are private of course, but mostly in our procedures and customer base.....not so much our mortality reports and doa percentages that we have all records for and openly share with Universities and People collecting data for the industry.

Consider for a moment I am as sincere as I write here. I am. Nothing to hide as we run a tight ship, and believe in what we do. I grew up watching my father as a wholesaler and retailer, and have seen the changes and improvements over nearly 50 years now. I am actually starting to believe I am a veteran of sorts, but part of the new movement to improve the industry...which we have done collectively for many years now....but much work still to be done in our eyes.

With all respect, engage me in conversation and don't attack. I am wanting to discuss these important matters and create some dialogue so we can all move forward on the same page which is where this industry needs to go!

Best regards,

Eric
 

sdcfish

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Just wanted to make a final comment that I did not want to give a negative impression in my original post and that I do realize that we as and industry still have a ways to go.

I do understand and realize that these are serious issues and that the industry needs to improve. I have a lot of respect for Ret and what he's doing to support us, and he knows I have always been available to discuss issues with him openly and honestly....and with the same goals in mind.

Regarding industry issues, I feel strongly that we have been and are continuing to move in the right direction. Over the past 20 years, the industry has gone through major transformations on the collection side mostly, and the huge improvements in packing and shipping techniques which have greatly reduced mortality averages caused by shipping stress and old collection practices. The education level of collectors around the globe, and the impact their methods have on the livestock and environment are now no longer a secret or unknown factor. Much has been done to make sure everyone is aware of the results that poor practices have on our industry and animals.

Eco-labeling, such as the SMART label I have been working on for the past years, along with others like SEASMART etc, are just a few programs that I hope become more mainstream in the near future.

In closing, I hope that we as an industry come together and formalize a unified voice. The hobbyists can do the same and become more active in MASNA which is and rightfully so the voice for the aquarists around the USA. Working together, we can solve the political and environmental issues that we face in modern times.

Thanks for reading....all comments are appreciated.

Best regards,

Eric
 
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