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Ethical considerations on live rock collection?!

758 Views 6 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  SPC
Are we hurting our reefs?

I've been reading about the pressures that our hobby puts on coral reefs around the world and currently in Indonesia. I was wondering if there is a way to tell if specific collectors are using environmently friendly methods. Is there a way to tell if the collectors are picking the live rock off of sand beds, instead of using dynimite to tear apart living reefs? Is there an organization that monitors and certifies collectors. It would be nice to know that our hobby is encouraging learning and appreciation of coral reefs, not destroying them! :)
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I'm with you here. :)

sort of waiting on someone else to chime in also.

This is really so involved. We monitor what's collected here with a iron fist. But also, with the understanding that's it's primary goal is "a sustainable, and harvestable resource".
The CITES agreement is in place for governments to try and meet a standard that has been set forth.

MAC is an organization that is trying to force collectors through certification, to meet certain ethical collection practices for fish.

There are many many more organizations that are involved in reef conservation. This subject is highly debated on many of the reef boards, but the most debate (and information) goes on over at RDO under the Industry Behind The Hobby forum. If you go to that forum, you will have plenty of information on this subject.

Let me say this, much of the L/R collection is done in about 3 or 4 feet of water, over a muddy bottom, in river mouths. I got this information from someone who actually has a collection station set up in the South Pacific, and has seen first hand how much of the rock is collected. Think about it, if a collector can wade out and pick up rock, why would he bother to go out on a reef. The collectors also say that there is more life on this rock and so it is easier to sell. Now, I'm not saying this is how all rock is collected, just that there are various methods of collection that we should be aware of.

One more thing, Walt Smith is aquaculturing rock and corals in the South Pacific. I read not long ago where he said that he is having a hard time selling this cultured stuff, because "hobbyist" want the bigger colonies of corals (for the same cost much of the time), and they can get natural rock cheaper than his aquacultured stuff.

Is there a way to tell if the collectors are picking the live rock off of sand beds, instead of using dynimite to tear apart living reefs?

I have not heard of this method being employed for L/R collection, only for fishing as far as I know.
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Youd be suprised! I have been to a lot of the places that this Live rock comes from and rules are nice but almost impossible to enforce. The P.I. has raped their waters to no end and they arent the only ones.

Our best bet I think is to do like Florida is doing, so as to cut the demand for "natrual" live rock. Culturing really is a good idea. Personally I have cultured 165 of the 200 lbs of live rock in my tank. I am not a "Tree Hugger" or a member of Green Peace but after seeing so much abuse of natral resources, I think this the best way to promote our hobby without sacrificing reefs around the world.
Just my humble opinion
The problem is not just with the LR collectors, but also with the hobbyists. There is alot of cultured rock available but if it is more economical to collect natural rock then bad collection methods will continue. If we put pressure on the collectors to change (by buying aquacultured rock) then they will. This is very similar to the movement to end cyanide use, but unfortunately doesn't have quite the same following. I posted on RC asking why there was such a small following, but I only got sarcastic answers. I guess that tells me why right there; no one takes this issue seriously.
Well I am more comfortable making a decision when I have some type of data to go by. Is there some data someone can point to that shows L/R to be in danger of over harvesting in all the areas it is collected in? Is L/R in its wild state a sustainable/renewable resource? Don't get me wrong, I'm all for conserving natural resources when needed, I just wonder if this is one of those cases.

There is another side to this also. The more $ value the native peoples can put on L/R, the more valuable it becomes to protect it. Several years ago I read where one of the South Pacific islands used L/R to build a new airport runway. Would they have done this if they received more $ for it from hobbyist? Was there such an overabundance of L/R that it really didn't amount to a hill of beans?

The reefs right now are being destroyed by pollution (our cars, runoff of farmland to produce our food, etc...), fishing (giant nets, cyanide, dynamite), global warming, and other causes to a lesser extent, one of the much lesser being the ornamental trade IMO.
If we are really concerned about the reefs, shouldn't we be trying to concentrate on the major culprits in reef destruction?

Don't forget, these native peoples need to feed their families, if it were you or I we would be doing the same thing. If they can't sell fish and inverts to the ornamental trade, then they will find another way to feed their families, with destructive fishing practices being a real option.

So, by purchasing aquacultured anything, are we really helping the reefs of these third world countries, or are we just fooling ourselves?
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