MARINE AQUARIUM COUNCIL
Certifying Quality and Sustainability in the Marine Ornamentals Industry
MAC News - 4th Quarter 1999 Report
We are pleased to be able to bring this 4th Quarter 99 issue of MAC News to the growing MAC Network of over 900 people and organizations in 50 countries and territories. With the successful completion of MAC's first full year of activity, the first MAC Annual Report was submitted to the MAC Board and will soon be available on the updated MAC website, summarizing our activities, progress, and challenges in 1999. The Council is moving solidly forward into what promises to be a very exciting year for certification development.
We would like to express our appreciation for your efforts towards achieving our collective mission and we look forward to your continued support and involvement in MAC. In particular, we would highlight the support in 1999 of the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the World Wildlife Fund, the MAC Board of Directors and their organizations, and marine aquarium industry companies too numerous to be mentioned. Finally, with all the activities of late 1999, we have a backlog of communications and regret any delays in responding to you.
Update: US Call for Public Input on Trade in Coral Reef Species
As noted in our November MAC Bulletin, the Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) called for public input on the trade in coral reef ornamental species, particularly whether additional legislation should be considered and what such legislation might address. The Dec 6 meeting was well attended by the public and by Coral Reef Task Force (USCRTF) agencies. Presentations were made by: MAC, AZA, AMDA, Center for Marine Conservation, Counterpart Int'l, Ecovitality, Humane Society, Indonesia government and industry, MASNA, PIJAC, TRAFFIC, World Resources Institute, and WWF. The overwhelming majority of input focussed on the opportunity for the marine ornamentals trade to be environmentally sound and provide incentives for reef stewardship - and the key role of certification in achieving this.
MAC also provided extensive written comments to USFWS (available in January on our website). Our analysis indicated that current legislation is sufficient and that there are numerous other mechanisms that the US might use to ensure the trade contributes to the wise use of reefs. However, we also included proactive suggestions for constructive legislation, in the event such a path is pursued. About 50-60 organizations, including those listed above, submitted comments to the USFWS and we would like to thank all those who took the time and effort to do so.
As of early January, the USCRTF is working through the issues and input concerning the trade and the US role and, to our knowledge, no conclusion has yet been reached. MAC will continue to track the situation and seek to work with the Task Force. The day after the public meeting, the MAC Director met with key US agencies to identify ways in which we could be mutually supportive or collaborate in ensuring the trade in marine ornamentals is environmentally sound.
Marine Ornamentals '99 and MAC Workshops
MO '99 proved to be a significant event, bringing together over 300 participants from the marine ornamentals industry and hobby, aquaculture, government, and science. From the insightful plenary opening by Martin Moe through to the closing forum on conference recommendations, MO '99 provided informative presentations and lively - sometimes heated - discussion on the present and future of marine ornamentals. The keynote speakers, session paper presenters and participants included many MAC Board and Network members.
Of particular importance were the MAC certification workshops and the input received from participants on Best Practice Standards for: Water Quality and Husbandry, Cultured Organisms; Live Coral and Live Rock Collection; and Fish and Invertebrate Collection. A fifth workshop considered Trade Data and Information: What we need to know and how we get it. The working draft of the MAC Standards of Practice was available at MO '99 and provided the basis for discussion during the workshops. The revised draft standards will soon be available on the updated MAC website. As outlined in the 3rd Quarter 99 MAC News, a series of working groups will finalize the initial version of the standards for testing in mid-2000.
MAC Scientific Advisory Committee and Reef Monitoring
MAC is forming a Scientific Advisory Committee of senior coral reef scientists from around the world to provide independent scientific advice on the management and monitoring of marine ornamentals harvest and trade. Certification will eventually require objective field surveys and monitoring, so we are also linking with the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network (GCRMN), Reef Check volunteer monitoring, and ReefBase database programs that collect and assemble data on coral reef status and trends. MAC is working with these programs to adapt and apply their methods to certification monitoring. This will ensure certification related reef monitoring is based on internationally accepted methods and expertise - creating a "win-win" situation whereby certification will provide support for the monitoring of harvested reefs and the results will provide data for GCRMN, Reef Check and ReefBase.
Addressing the Need for Marine Ornamentals Trade Data
Adequate information on the trade in marine ornamentals is lacking and discussions on the trade's possible impact are seriously under-informed, diverting many of us into non-constructive debate and creating the possibility that major decisions will be based on an absence of information or on misinformation. MAC is involved in 2 major efforts to improve this situation. One is a collaborative project proposed by the World Resources Institute to examine marine fish import data recorded by the USFWS and analyze trade patterns and trends into the US.
Over the long term, an ongoing international program of documentation and data for marine ornamentals in trade is needed. MAC and the World Conservation Monitoring Center (WCMC) are collaborating to develop an international Marine Ornamentals Information System to provide consistent, comprehensive, quality information. The system will build on the existing CITES data system at WCMC and MAC's need to document compliance with certification standards. Marine aquarium industry exporters and importers around the world have volunteered to provide data and to assist with developing the system. We encourage the involvement and support of other MAC Network members in this, especially industry stake holders.
For More Information
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MAC News reprint permission from
Paul Holthus, Executive Director
Marine Aquarium Council