Live Fish Trade Can Help Sustain Communities



Live fish trade can help sustain communities
9th February 2018

By Sandra Pearce
Trade body the Ornamental Aquatic Trade Association has submitted a response to a governmental group on how catching live fish for the aquatics trade can help create a sustainable livelihood for fishermen. 
The All Party Parliamentary Trade out of Poverty Group launched an inquiry looking at how the Commonwealth can help countries trade out of poverty, and in its report, OATA chief executive Dominic Whitmee said catching live fish for the trade helps people in some of the world’s poorest countries to make a sustainable living from the marine/freshwater resources on their doorstep and can also help to conserve their local environment.
Almost all ornamental fish are exotic and about 90% of marine fish and 5% of tropical freshwater fish in home aquariums are caught in the wild. Just 70 tonnes of live fish are taken from the oceans each year, which is less than 0.0001% of the global marine catch of 80.9m tonnes. 
The report stated: “We estimate at least 23 Small Island Developing States, 14 UN Least Developed Countries and 13 UN countries with Low Human Development are involved in catching marine and tropical freshwater fish to provide alive to the UK aquarium industry. Around 20 countries are in the Commonwealth.”
It added: “Our industry gives people in these largely Southern hemisphere countries the chance to develop a sustainable livelihood from the marine or freshwater resources on their doorstep, helping to meet for example UN Sustainable Development Goal 14.7 which states: ‘By 2030, increase the economic benefits to Small Island developing States and least developed countries from the sustainable use of marine resources, including through sustainable management of fisheries, aquaculture and tourism’. 
“These are often communities in remote areas that have few employment opportunities and less welfare provision. And it encourages communities to conserve the environment to ensure they can continue to make a sustainable living over the longer term.
“Many may see SDG 14 as focused on food fishing but we believe catching live fish for the aquarium trade, while admittedly offering a small niche market, actually gives people greater value for what they catch because live fish are worth a lot more than food fish. So fishing communities can catch less but earn more. Fish caught for the aquarium industry are caught either by hand or using handheld nets, with virtually no by-catch, and they are collected with the sole aim of keeping them alive.”