Incorporating local harvester knowledge to assess vulnerability in the aquarium trade

Malsack, Emily and Phelps, Jacob and Hicks, Christina (2018) Incorporating local harvester knowledge to assess vulnerability in the aquarium trade. Masters thesis, Lancaster University.

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The aquarium fishery in Calatagan, Batangas is one of many that participate in the global enterprise. This study looked at the aquarium trade from a ground-scale and personal perspective. A mixed methods approach was used to incorporate both literature and fishers’ knowledge to determine the sustainability of this particular fishery. Over 180 species of fish (97,635 individuals) were identified as being collected for the aquarium trade from 2013-July 2017 due to fishers’ receipts. One species, the fire dartfish (Nemateleotris magnifica), comprised 41.3% of the total number of fish collected. Twenty of these species underwent a productivity susceptibility analysis (PSA) to determine their vulnerability to being locally overharvested using life history traits. Out of the twenty species selected for analysis, 18 were categorized as least vulnerable and two species, the zebra lionfish (Dendrochirus zebra) and palette surgeonfish (Paracanthurus hepatus), were categorized as moderately vulnerable. While the fish collected for the trade do not appear highly vulnerable, the aquarium fishers themselves seem to be. Aquarium fishers need to contend with monsoons, local conflicts, and even long distances in order to provide for their families. According to the fishers, the fire dartfish, the most heavily collected species, cannot be found anywhere in Calatagan and so they must travel to nearby islands such as Mindoro. In spite of using greater exertion to collect, 100% of aquarium fishers stated that they enjoy their job. However, 76.7% of fishers said they would discourage younger people from entering the aquarium trade, primarily because of the difficulty associated with it. The aquarium trade in Calatagan is a family enterprise. Fishers learn how to fish from family members both in Calatagan and other areas of the Philippines. Recruitment of younger fishers for the trade appears to be declining, as most fishers are over 40 years old. Therefore, the future of this livelihood is questionable. Results from this study not only have direct applications for local policymakers, but also identify sizeable gaps in the aquarium trade at the global scale.

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Thesis (Masters)
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20 Apr 2018 15:12
Last Modified:
16 Jul 2024 05:41