The marine aquarium market features marine life from vastly disparate sources throughout the tropical world. Cheaper fishes are often sourced from reefs adjacent scattered coastal communities in the archipelagos of countries in the Indo-Pacific region. If practiced sustainably, aquarium specimen supply can be a good and ongoing source of cash income for these communities. However, unsustainable fishing for the live reef food fish trade using sodium cyanide to stun fish prior to capture in those countries led, in many cases, to use of the poison in the aquarium supply trade. It is estimated that two thirds of the marine life on the global marine aquarium market is sourced from this region.
The use of this poison has far reaching consequences for the communities. Cyanide, in many cases, has engendered a cycle of debt whereby intermediaries provide the equipment and the poison to village fishers then insist the fisher dives over and over to repay the ‘debt’. The intermediaries pay village fishers substantially less than the true value of the marine life supplied. The poisonous cloud of cyanide stuns the targeted fish but kills smaller organisms, including corals. When the fish are gone and the reefs are lifeless, the intermediary moves on.
A community’s ‘home reefs’ are central to meeting nutritional requirements. Badly damaged reefs produce little food so young men sometimes migrate to urban centres for employment, often finding none. Village communities can become characterised by young women caring for small children and the elderly. The story telling that is the handing down of knowledge can become disjointed until ultimately it is lost.
Cairns Marine aims to clearly differentiate itself from suppliers of marine specimens elsewhere in the world that use poisons to catch fish. We are acutely aware of the standards of environmental performance demanded by communities and consumers and have taken steps to establish the worlds highest standards and to demonstrate these as the benchmark for marine aquarium fish collectors and wholesalers worldwide. Look for the trademark registered Aussie Trigger Digger®, developed by Cairns Marine as a mark of distinction.
Marine life collected on the Great Barrier Reef and in the Coral Sea adheres to robust legislative and management standards plus the landmark Stewardship Action Plan, an industry initiative that establishes a uniform operational standard that is additional to that required by fisheries and marine protected areas management.