A quick note:
The actual correct term for growing anything (including corals) in the ocean is called "mariculture". "Aquaculture" refers to things that are grown inland. But for our purposes since the term "aquaculture" is embedded into our minds, I will continue to use this term when referring to farmed or propagated corals, regardless of where they are grown.
The following feedbacks are from Jeff and Vlad, the guys who run the reef blog Fragd.it.
Jeff from the
So, about this:
“My suggestion is that the big aquarium related companies (lighting, tank, skimmer manufacturers and others) join together and start a non profit organization to help educate the locals overseas.”
I would love to spearhead something like that. What's the lay of the land? Do you have some contacts I could speak to?
I have lots of contacts in the government, but there is a language barrier. I have to rely on my friend/partner for most of the communication. If you are serious about "making a difference" and like my idea, then first you need to talk to the manufacturers and get a feedback. You can write a proposal (I can help you) and send them off to every major aquarium related company you can think of. You can visit them and talk to them to see if they would be interested in supporting and funding such a task. You can also lobby the big boys, like the Ford foundation or the HP guys (built the Monterey Bay Aquarium), heck you can even talk to the owner of Home Depot. The guy donated $250 million to build the Georgia Aquarium. I'm sure he can help out just a little to "save the reefs". Once you get the interest, then you go to the next step.
What's the mortality rates for coral?
From the actual collection to export, only maybe about half actually make it to overseas. The rest die because of poor handling techniques and others are just too brown or undesireable to be sold. They eventually die. Lots of training needs to be done here. But that is only on this end. Of course there will be more losses on the wholesale, retail, and consumer ends. So the percentage could be quite high. My guess would be at least another 25%.
I was talking to some friends last night and one of them quoted a source as saying that once a fish is caught, the mortality rate is something like 99% as it goes through the chain. That seems ridiculously high to me, but I'd like to know how accurate it is.
Well, it is not quite that high. My guess would be around 30 - 40%. The big problem of course is fish caught with cyanide and poor transporting techniques. The fish stress like crazy, sometimes traveling for days on buses to the suppliers. Then these guys change water and re-ox and then bring them around to the exporters. Then of course they will have endure the long journey to the
I guess he meant the one year mortality rate including life in a reefer's tank.
If you consider the losses by the wholesaler, not doa’s (death on arrival), but daa’s (death after arrival), and also by the retailer and eventually hobbyists, yes I can see how it can be up there in the 90’s percentile.
I have something in me that wants to change the world and I'm not old enough to realize how futile it is.
Changing the world takes time and lots of money! How old are you anyway and what do you do for a living?
Ha! I wish I were rich!
I work in IT. I'm in my early 30s. I'm not good at the corporate life and I want my days on earth to be meaningful. To me, working for a buck isn't meaningful. I've been applying for positions at NGOs, but I keep coming back to the reefs. I love aquariums/reefs and I want to see the reefs thrive. I believe that aquariums (especially reef aquariums) are a way for people to get to know more about the ocean. Look how much more we know about acropora today than even 10 years ago. How much more will we know given 5 years of mainstream acceptance? But for wider acceptance, we can't keep taking corals out of the ocean every year.
You definitely have the drive and passion to make this work. I’m going to help you all I can.
I'm interested and I'm serious. I don't know what shape a proposal would take, so I'd need lots of help with that.
I'm ready to do the work; it seems like it would be fulfilling and exciting.
Ask your fellow hobbyists for advice, as one of them may already be involved in such a non profit organization. Spread the word what you want to do, and people will come to help you. Ask business analysts/hobbyists/authors such as Anthony Calfo for advice. I have worked with him and he is truly a good guy. You can work with the local clubs all across the
I have a friend who used to run an NGO in
Sounds like a plan Jeff, I’ll try to join you at MACNA this year!
Vlad from the
Hey Eddie, read your post. Was thinking.. since you have a positive perspective in the industry.. why don't you use your connections to start an initiative to train and educate local fishermen on how to proceed with mass aquaculture of corals (ie sps). I am sure that you can at least get them to listen. I wish I had your connections because I would be doing exactly that.
I do plan on spearheading such a plan but after I make money. I went broke trying to do the right thing and got screwed by greedy people. I have a young wife to support and even want to start a family soon, I am old - 40 already. For me, the priority is to make money to survive.
We have to find long term sustainability of the hobby. Taking only wild out would be counterproductive and eventually will be detriment to the industry. We have to find a way to sustain our hobby, and aquaculturing corals is the first step.
I agree with you 100%. The industry need guys like you and Jeff to step up and do something about it. For me, right now I’m trying to earn enough money to do my aquaculture projects - the main reason why I am here. The wild coral export is just buying me time until I get to that point. After doing the projects, I will seriously think about how to make a real difference here in
I am sure saying it is easier than doing it, but it all has to start somewhere. You started selling corals at your shop, and now look at you. You are successful in what you do. Maybe you can start something that is just as successful as that.
I found out that money talks and people listen when you have it. Without it, you don’t get respect and that is just how people are. Once I lost my money (got screwed by greedy people), people looked at me as a failure, even if I did lots of good for the hobby/environment. Nobody cares about how much time and money I put into trying to do the right thing. How I sacrificed a thriving maintenance and retail business to go over seas to some unknown island eating strange foods, getting eaten alive by mosquitoes, working day and night with island mentality (lazy) people. Or how I brought in Filipino divers to train our local Tongan divers how to catch fish with nets. How I brought in famous people in the hobby to help me with my projects for the good of the hobby and environment. Many of my friends and people in the business have turned their backs on me since. No one cares what I did, because
I hear you. Money does talk. Maybe getting sponsorship money to do such a project from big companies in the industry may be a start. They can be viewed as 'good' companies that are advancing the hobby and thus will gain a lot more from the revenue standpoint.
That is why guys like you and Jeff needs to do something about it. The industry really has taken a toll on me, really sapped the life out of me. But I still have enough energy to move forward and promote the hobby because I do believe in the “pot of gold” at the end of the rainbow. “Pot of gold” meaning that I can still make a difference in this industry, for the good of the hobby and the environment - that is my pot of gold, (real pot of gold would be nice tooJ)
Just came across your coral reef blog and loving it! “How to save the coral reef.” Why not increase the tax take on the exporters and then put the extra into a slush fund.
I am here in
The exporters are, for the most part, not interested in long term success. They only see what is good for them today, don’t worry about tomorrow. This is the typical “island mentality” that frustrates the heck out of me. There are people in the government and the leaders of the association (these are not the exporters) that really do care about their coral reefs, but just do not have the funds or the manpower to do anything about it. I just had a meeting with two of them and they are hoping in the future, real help will come from overseas. They loved the articles that I wrote on my latest post.
Train the local man, who shows some conservation interest, in how to frag and grow corals back on the reef.
Aquaculture programs are already set in place, with the funding from the exporters. But there are only a few areas in
Certainly not the exporters, as they are only interested in making money.
The help needs to come from outside sources, like non profit organizations. Even if you have the money, you also need man power. SIMPLY TRAINING THE LOCALS AND LEAVING THEM SOME EQUIPMENT IS NOT GOING TO WORK. This is where other organizations have failed.
But again their objectives were distorted from the beginning. It was not so much to help with the cause, but only to have it on paper that they accomplished something to get more money. Do you understand? So to wrap it up, money will not solve everything. After initial training, someone needs to stay behind and supervise.
As you said in the article, some corals can't be fragged but need to spread naturally. Put a cap on how many can be exported and find someone/s to watch over the exporters.
Again it is tough to do anything about it. The system is set in place and you have to go through the powerful exporters. In a third world country like
Great reply's and one that makes me realize so much better the power of the dollar in this world. People come second!
You got it Robert, everything we do should benefit the poor locals and our environment. But unfortunately, this only happens in a perfect world, and we are not living in one.
Would be nice to be there and work with these people on such a project....
If you have the funding and passionate people backing you up, yes it would be nice. All the rewards come when you are helping to preserve our reefs and at the same time, make a difference in the lives of the poor people.
Am going to
Wow, that is great! Human trafficking is a major problem in
I just sent a letter around
Sounds like you have a good team for the task at hand. For sure you will succeed, there is no doubt in my mind!
I am watching your blog with much interest. I have a friend from Raratonga who wants me to help them there to clean the fresh water streams so that they do not pollute the ocean. Is another hard project with little income.
Hey I know where that place is! I worked in the
All the best with your mission and may you succeed in helping the villages feed their families. Let me know if you need help as I and others will do what we can. I look forward one day sitting with you and your family for a meal together.
Rich is the man who Knows the Lord.
Thank you Robert, one day me and my wife will join you in your missions, and yes we will have a nice meal together. We can share our struggles and triumphs.
And the Lord be with you on your missions!
I just read a couple of your articles on your blog website that I found on the internet. I send you this email because we have in
With the most regards
To put my article in a magazine, I would be very honored. Yes please by all means, do translate and let me know if there are terms you don’t understand. Sometimes I use English slang because I write exactly how I talk. One example is the word “beef”. This means “something against or angry at”. Please feel free to ask me any questions as I am here to help.
The guys at Fragd.it, Jeff and Vlad are on the right track to make a difference in this hobby/industry. We need more people like these guys to step up and start a movement towards the preservation of our reefs. It is not just about "save the reefs" and that's it. There are much more things to consider when implementing such a plan. There are the poor fishermen who rely on the wild coral trade for a living. Then there is the aquarium reef keeping industry that also rely on the wild corals for growth.
Everything we do to promote the hobby ultimately puts more pressure on wild collection of corals. From big boys like Reef Central to small guys like me, Jeff, and Vlad who run blogs are all contributing to the demise of our reefs. From the advancement of technology in lighting and filtration equipment, now we are able to keep corals alive long term. Even just a decade ago, keeping acroporas were a super challenge. But look at us now, we are able to keep them and grow them and trade them and sell them. Keeping corals has never been so easy! That is the problem. Think about how many reefers are out there now, compared to 10 years ago? More and more people are getting into the coral keeping. And like I mentioned on the past post, do you think these people are interested in little one inch frags? No, they are looking for the big beautiful wild corals! This is not to mention the newbies accidentally killing the stuff too. Just imagine how many reefers there will be in another 10 years? You do the math.
Wild corals are more in demand than ever before, and the demand will get bigger as time goes on. As more of us promote the hobby, the worse it will get. Reef Central is the biggest culprit, because they have done such a great job promoting the hobby, that so many new people are getting into keeping corals. Kind of ironic that such a positive powerful medium of information is the driving force behind the demise of our reefs. "Kudos" (as Anthony Calfo would say) to RC for doing a great job. But seriously, RC has done a world of good for the reef keeping hobby, it is just that no one sees what is happening. Because of RC, reef keeping is catching on like wild fire all over the world, especially here in Asia. And the Asian reefers for the most part are not interested in little frags. Keeping frags tend to be a trend in the US only, fueled by greedy online vendors trying to capitalize on common wild pieces giving them fancy names and chopping them up to make their 100,000% profit! No need to sell common pieces at astronomical prices, for goodness sake, we are in a recession! You want to call it a fancy name, ok, it is a good marketing strategy and I support the idea. But selling it way above market value to gouge the unsuspecting newbies is just not cool. The true limited pieces like Tyree editions always will have a role, and quite frankly are worth lots of money, even as little frags, because they are rare. Jeff has written an interesting article on this topic on his blog, go check it out. I guess the old saying is true, "that if it is expensive, must be better", NOT!
Sorry guys, got off topic. Happens when I start thinking too much!
So how do we keep doing the reef thing and still preserve our environment? I can only think of two things.
1. Close down all of our message boards, our blogs, magazines, cut off the information that is promoting the hobby. No more RC or anything to let people know how wonderful the reef keeping is. This way no more new people will get into the hobby and thus put less pressure on wild corals. We just become a private society and keep it all to ourselves, no breaking the chain right?
2. Or, since we are all guilty of promoting the hobby (even if you just posted some information just one time, you are responsible), we need to ban together and come up with a plan to help our environment. It is our duty since we are at fault. I know there are non profit organzations already, but I haven't seen any of their influences at all, or at least here in Indonesia. I would like to see an organization built by passionate hobbyists, no egomaniacs (I know plenty) no lawyers(if you happen to be a hobbyist too, cool) or idealistic people that rule with a click of a mouse. I think guys like Jeff and Vlad are on the right track. We need more true humanitarian guys like Robert from NZ to join forces. We need more guys like Serge who run a reef magazine to spread the word.
Ok guys, I'm done!