(Bihar Times)If there is one trade in India which is completely illegal, unregulated and unlooked at by government and wildlife activists, it is the aquarium trade. Millions of fish are caught and put into small glass prisons every year where they die within a few weeks.
If watching these poor animals struggle for space and swim endlessly to and fro in two feet of space is relaxing then you have to be as mentally disturbed as the fish probably are. In a mammal, this endless repetitive swimming would be analysed as stress behaviour. But who cares about fish?
Where do coloured fish come from? No one in the trade will tell you, or they will give you vague replies like they have been bred in Kolkata or Mumbai. But clownfish, for instance, the demand for which shot up after the cartoon Disney film Finding Nemo, cannot be bred. They come from coral reefs and they are long distance swimmers. Baby clownfish travel as much as 400 kilometres to find anemones, without which they cannot live. 90% are killed by natural predators during their travels. Now the other 10% are being poached for your “relaxation”.
CITES is an international treaty between Nations that regulates the export of animals. In India we have no respect for it and no one is arrested for selling foreign endangered birds, for instance. In fact, a seller is exempt from action by the forest department (after they get a “sweetener”) on the grounds that he is selling foreign birds. Whether he has CITES permission is irrelevant. No one in India even knows where the CITES office is – including me. But even worse is the aquarium trade which is a global industry with no centralized database to track what gets bought and sold, and with no central governing body to enforce regulations. Exporters from India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore loot and sell millions of marine animals with impunity. More than half the buyers are in the U.S. Go to the net and type in “fish for sale”. More than 5 lakh sites will come up.
About 1,800 tropical fish species are involved in the international trade. Hundreds of other species of invertebrates, including live corals, are also part of this illegal pipeline.
Removing animals from the wild can have serious consequences - both for their survival as a species and for their habitat. Coral reef fish from India, Australia, Hawaii, for instance, are now in severe decline as are the reefs themselves – which have a symbiotic relationship with these fish. Species like the Regal Blue Tang and Clownfish have been over collected and are now endangered. What effect does extinction of a single species have? Regal blue tang, near extinction in Indonesia and the Philippines, feed on algae in the coral reefs. The algae now cover the coral which has led to them dying of strangulation. As the coral dies, the frequent cyclones on the coast bring the ocean waters in and thousands of people lose their homes and lives. 90% of exported fish from Southeast Asia are from coral reefs.
A 2013 study in the journal Biological Conservation has for the first time exposed the extent and magnitude of this horrible trade in India: no regulations on the aquarium pet market in India, no scientific knowledge and no interest in the conservation of fish, has led to the trading of endangered species. According to the researchers, 22 species of fish are now severely threatened by the Indian aquarium pet market. The study observed that over 1.5 million freshwater fish individuals from 30 threatened species were exported from India between 2005 and 2012.
380,000 Red Lined Torpedo Barbs have been fished from the wild and exported. An equal number have died during capture. This fish is now severely endangered. The importing countries are Singapore, Hong Kong, and Malaysia who re-export them to the West. Exporters do not identify the species and export threatened and endangered species and simply label them as “live aquarium fish”. Four of the threatened species identified by the study did not show up on export data, yet were identified in the study through import data. Shamefully, species-specific labelling is not a legal requirement in India. Suggestions, that an organized coding system be made which should include “species name, capture locations, size of the specimens, and the names collector and exporter”, have gone unheard. 30% of the fish exported from India in the past seven years are from dozens of threatened species including the endangered Red-lined Torpedo Barb (Puntius denisonii) and Miss Kerala (Puntius chalakkudiensis).
No rules are followed at all - by exporters or importers. For instance, in the Philippines it's illegal to use cyanide—a poison that stuns fish and makes them easier to catch—but more than half the fish coming out of the Philippines have been treated with cyanide. No policing of the waters is done in any country.
Tracking fish imported into the U.S. is almost impossible. The US Fish and Wildlife Service which is supposed to patrol imports simply lumps them into one category of “marine tropical fish”. One 2012 study, to look at the species and volume of fish coming into the U.S. by looking at shipping invoices, has already taken three years to just collate the data for 2005 alone!
India’s freshwater species are found nowhere else on the globe. Even when local regulations on collection and export are in place (as Kerala did in 2008 for the red-lined torpedo barb) they are ignored. In spite of a ban on collection and export, 11,260 fish were exported during 2010-2012. More than 89,000 RLTB were caught and exported during its breeding months from 2005-2012. 46% (around 145,997 individuals) were immature juveniles.
Even species found in protected areas where no fishing is allowed like the Orange-spotted Snakehead (Channa aurantimaculata) and Devi’s Loach (Mesonoemacheilus remadevii) are taken out. So are globally threatened species such as Red Canarese Barb (Gonoproktopterus thomassi) (Critically Endangered), Glyptothorax housei (Endangered) and the Malabar Hatchet Chela (Laubuca fasciata) (Vulnerable). Of the 1.5 million threatened fishes, the major share was contributed by three species - Botia striata (Endangered), Carinotetraodon travancoricus (Vulnerable) and the Red Lined Torpedo Barbs (Endangered).
Most wild-caught aquarium fish originating from India come from two global biodiversity hotspots of Eastern Himalayas and Western Ghats. Garra hughi, the Cardamon Garra, a stone sucker occupies less than 300 square kilometers and the Zebra Loach is found in less than 400 square kilometers. Both are major Indian aquarium exports. Four of the 30 threatened species, including the ‘Dawkinsia rohani’ were seen at retail shops in Germany and Singapore by the scientists, but were not listed in the customs records. Mislabelling species and dodging regulations is business as usual in India’s aquarium trade.
In fact one-third of all freshwater fishes exported from India for the aquarium trade between 2005 and 2012 are listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species as either threatened or endangered.
The status of freshwater fish as ‘wildlife’ and its conservation is odd in India. The main wildlife conservation legislations in India are the Wildlife Protection Act (1972), which lists protected species of flora and fauna in the wild but has not listed a single fresh water fish; the Biological Diversity Act (2002), which implements aspects of the Convention on Biological Diversity, and the Indian Forest Act, which provides for habitat protection and use of forest products. None of these legislations relate to the conservation of freshwater fish. Several states have also passed ‘Inland Fisheries’ acts, but without any focus on conservation. Fish is viewed as a free commodity that can be collected from nature.
Protected Areas are supposed to protect fish. Commercial fish collection is banned. But regulations are neither enforced not adhered to. Aquatic habitats inside forest areas are controlled by the Forest and Wildlife Department, while ‘fishes’ and ‘fisheries’ are subjects of the Fisheries Department. Most of the aquarium species are forest-based fish, so both departments need to work together. No airports keep records and Cochin is the worst.
Instead of taking action against the poachers, government agencies in India encourage trade in native aquarium fishes with subsidies to exporters. The government breaks the law itself: 150,000 Red Lined Torpedo Barbs were exported by the Kerala Aquatic Ventures International Limited, a joint undertaking with private industry and the Government of Kerala.
The aquarium trade should be banned. Have we not banned hunting for mammals and birds? So, why do we allow hunting, selling and buying of fish. The rules for aquaria have been lying with the Environment Ministry for 5 years now. Each time they move forward, a senior official (everyone in the Ministry and the trade knows him well) is “sweetened” and they are again withdrawn. If we are to prevent their extinction we will have to strengthen the enforcement of inland fisheries laws, patrol freshwater protected areas, stop the export of endangered species and recognize fish as an important part of wildlife conservation.
To join the animal welfare movement contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Plight of aquarium fish
Eat Vegetarian diet to live longer
Some Useful Innovations for Rural People
Plant foods do not contain any cholesterol
The Truth About Protein
Mock Meats : The Moral Alternatives
Is China going to eat up the whole world?
Ways to become thinner or fatter
Animal Studies Paint Misleading Picture
Are you alone?
What do you eat when you eat fish
How ANIMALS manage their time—A STUDY
Next time you look into your beloved’s soul, look for the parasites at the gateway...
Medicinal Use of Cow Urine
Influence of Animals on human beings
Cruel Ways of Eating Animals & Birds by Humans II
Cruel Ways of Eating Animals & Birds by Humans I
Are you a Good Samaritan?
How to Check Adulteration in Milk
Stable Environment for healthy fish needed
Fish Lovers- Beware
Role of Bacteria in shaping behavior of genes
A Suitable Cow
Some Tips On Nursing Puppies
Ban Battery cage for chicken
Varieties of Chicken we eat
Slaughter houses and increased crime rates
Breeds of dog in India
Cruelty to animals on the occasion of festivals
Real foods spoil very quickly, fast foods not
The Myth of Swine & Avian Flu in India
Fish eating causes health hazard
Animal sacrifice in Pauri Garhwal area of Uttarakhand
Difference between Veg and Non-veg
Virgin Mary among Lizards
Nature-the most inspiring model for our Ecosystems
Role of denial in eating of Meat
The Technology of Synthetic Milk
Honeybee-the insect for human food chain
Why do dogs bark
Characteristics of varieties of caterpillars
Emotional Complexity of Animals
Meat eating causes diseases
Rat in Hindu mythology
Which animal you are
Man’s alter ego-an Animal
Career in management of welfare of Animals
Profession of Pet grooming
What you Eat When you Eat Processed Meat
How to train a dog to make it useful
The Purpose of Minor Beings in Our Ecosystem
Cruelty to Bears in Pakistan
How Onion Drives Away Viruses
How to save an animal from burn injury
Production of Honey is cruelty to Bee
Meat eating causes Global warming
Hazards of fish factories
Growth of a bird till it flies
Creatures of the world live and help live
Killing a snake brings bad luck
Effects of the startle Reflex on Animals
Awaken Your Soul by Loving Animals
Feeling of grief in Animals
Altruism in Animals
Music Soothes Animals
How Animals recognize their Kins
Animals teach their offspring like human moms
Cruelty to Animals in Slaughter houses
What is the secret to a perfect life and happiness?
How is Ghee being adulterated ?
Difference between a man & an animal
Homosexuality Is Not Against Nature In Animal Kingdom
Programmes for improving Animal Welfare
Promiscuity in mating behaviour of Birds
Uses for slaughtered Animals accelerate killing of Animals
Slingshots & Catapults Destroy Wild Life
Human Intelligibility of Animals
Animal grooming of offspring is worth emulating
Illegal Trade of Killing Cattle
Eating Cattle Meat Causes E Coli Infection
Some tips on making Puppies’ life comfortable
Some tips on keeping kittens clean
Snake skin trade dangerous for eco system
Dog shows are not for dog lovers but for moneymakers and charlatans
Political agenda for Animal welfare needed
How foolish it is to kill Sea creatures for Ornaments
Infectious diseases from Animals to Humans
How pitiable is Rabbit farming?
Remedies for Animal ailments
Infected Pig Meat Risks Your Life
Animals spread dangerous Ebola virus to humans
Animals Have More Sense
Municipal Policy on hazards of pet shops
Mutualism makes Species of the nature flourish
Adoption Fair for Puppies
How Animals behave in packs
Why People prefer dogs and cats to human beings
Positive effects of spaying and neutering on pets
Mammals & Birds cry like human beings
Biomemetics Provides solution to human problems
Chinese food products- the greatest killer
Pets make better partners than humans
How harmful is the Packaged Meat
Stop Slaughter of Cows for Bone Trade
How cruel it is to dump pet animals ? view comments...
Don’t hurt animals on festive occasions
Let the earth beings survive
Glues are made of animal remains
Meat increases risk of cancer
Birds provide springboard to song composers
Is it not an act of Cannibalism?
How many animals do you have to eat before you become man ?
To eat or not to eat Meat
Insulin from Animals
Is It Healthy Decision to Promote Rat Eating in Bihar
Use of Animal bones in Porcelain
Infection of Tick disease in Dogs and its cure
Vegetarian diet is the best diet for human beings
Non-Veg Diet causes Dementia
Excuses for being non-vegetarians
Body odour of Non-vegetarians
MEAT threatens Planet’s Survival
Am I smarter than you ? Yes, if you are a meat eater.
Need to orient educational system to deal with animals
How to Avoid Cruelty to Gold Fish?
How To Make Everyday An Animal day
Are Eggs Vegetarian?
Are You One of these People ?
Use of Animal Fats in Cosmetics Industries
Killing of endangered Species for Perfume Industries
Missionary Campaign to Control Cruelty to Animals- needed
Drink Milk, Get Sick
Parents Create Monsters
The Business of Murder:Factory Farming and the Meat Industry in India
Effect of landscaping of birds on environment
Dangers of killing deep Sea-Sharks for Cosmetic Products
Use of dog in diagnosis of diseases
Sacred Nature of Neelkanth
Cruelty to Polo Ponies comments...
Self-Regulation of Population by Animals
Dangers of Animal meat eating
Arsenic poison in chicken feed
Cruelty to Animals by Govt. Vets
Worship of God with Blood and Suffering of Animals and Birds
Consequences of Chloramphenicol in Shrimp Industry
Hazards of Trade in Peacocks’ Feather
Supreme Court Ban on cruelty to Animals
Are you a Bad Pet Owner?
The Goat That Laughed and Wept
Animal Owners’ personality traits resemble their Pets’
Human Propensities of Goat
sacrifice at the altar of religion
as foster parent
feed from rendering plant
Intelligence of Birds
Human Propensities of Cow