Cultured marine ornamentals – what’s in it for the pacific?
Friday, 25 June 2010 16:38

This is the abstract of a poster that was displayed at Australasia Aquaculture 2010 in Hobart, Australia. To download the poster, please click here.


After thirty years of aquarium trade, the total value of aquarium exports from the Pacific region is currently between USD 40 and 60 million – accounting for about 10–15% of the global trade. This trade has now become an important source of income and employment for local communities in the Pacific. For example, in Fiji Islands alone it provides employment for 600 people and fisheries revenue second only to tuna.

There are concerns from environmental NGOs that extractive wild-capture practices might cause damages to marine environments. But evidence suggests that coral reef resources are, to some extent, resilient and that the trade can be managed sustainably to provide Pacific Island communities, contributing greatly to community livelihoods and income revenue for governments. Recently, with the attractiveness of some cultured products, aquaculture is emerging as a viable source of commercial alternative for the Pacific region.

Today, aquaculture is providing the market with an increasing range of products. For example, giant clam (Tridacna spp.) farming has increased since the initial trials in the 1980s; in 2007 over 75,000 cultured giant clams were exported from the Pacific. Cultured corals and cultured live rocks are also being successfully marketed, in increasing volumes, to environmentally conscious aquarists. Ornamental fish culture is currently being experimented in the Pacific: low-technology anemone fish (Amphiprion spp.) hatcheries could supply the established markets and capture and culture of post-larval reef fish could target markets for ‘new products’. While the culture of these products expands in the Pacific, alternative employment opportunities for people in rural areas are likely to increase.

SPC is currently coordinating efforts in conjunction with other partners, and providing the technical support required by Pacific Island nations to develop and manage this industry in a sustainable way. A ‘Pacific’ label that indicates high quality eco-friendly products that promote sustainability is an idea worthy of further exploration , though there are a number of international trade measures such as OIE and CITES that need to be overcome for Pacific Island nations to fully realise the benefits of the aquarium trade and associated aquaculture products.