Nearly a month ago, I was able to represent That Fish Place for MACNA in Orlando, Florida. MACNA (Marine Aquarium Conference of North America), is one of the oldest and largest marine aquarium conferences in North America. Each year you will find new/advanced technology in the hobby, new companies, and of course, livestock. This year was all about LED technology, which seems to be the future of lighting in the hobby.
Amongst the chatter of LEDs was the talk of Papua New Guinea and the SEASMART program. Last year in Atlantic City, SEASMART attended MACNA in the attempt to raise awareness for the need to collect livestock sustainably with an all new approach. Dan Navin, a close friend of mine collected some information on the program while we were there. He made a side trip to Papua New Guinea while vacationing in Australia to check out the operation, a few weeks later. Needless to say he liked what he saw, and is now the SEASMART MAR (Mariculture, Aquaculture, Restoration) Division Manager.
The coral reefs of Papua New Guinea (PNG) are some of the most biodiverse in the world. Located not very far from the Great Barrier Reef, they are virtually untouched by the aquarium trade. The SEASMART program means to prevent the destruction caused by irresponsible collecting techniques such the use of cyanide and dynamite. They collect fish in PNG from depths of 5 meters and up, no chemicals, only nets are used. The idea of sustainability is to collect a certain amount of fish from one area, then allowing the populations to rebound before collected again. Without the fish, the reef’s ecosystem will collapse.
SEASMART also collects corals for mariculture purposes. They are fragged from larger colonies and returned to the facility. The mother colony is left to heal and regrow to frag again in the future. Frags are attached to coral disks and placed offshore on iron racks. 30 percent of these fragged corals will be returned to the reef to help restore areas that have been degraded for one reason or another around PNG. The rest are maricultured corals for the aquarium hobby.
Fish from the SEASMART program (such as Hippo Tangs and Percula Clowns) are showing up at TFP and other fish stores around the country. You may have seen the infamous “Lightning” maroon clown a while back on blogs and forums. Along with the maroon clown, they have introduced a few new fish to the hobby such as the “Tufi” Damselfish. Since all of the fish are collected from 5 meters or less, there should not be any need for decompression of fish, preventing swim bladder problems down the line. The bottom line, a healthier fish from the start, equals a healthier, hardier fish in your aquarium in the end.
The SEASMART program teaches the need for conservation to the local people of PNG. Getting the locals involved, increasing the chance that this program will continue long into the future, hopefully for generations. SEASMART staff is training locals how to catch and quarantine fish, frag and mount corals and to look at reefs as their future.
Table Coral and Reef image referenced from wikipedia and originally posted by Nhobgood