CITES Draft Decisions Give Banggai Cardinalfish a Reprieve

A New Chapter for Indonesia and the Pterapogon kauderni fishery? by Ret Talbot originally published

2016 CITES Results for Aquarium Fish and Inverts

As originally published at Reef2Rainforest.com October 13, 2016 UPDATE: New aquatic species of inter

Banggais & Other Species Targeted for CITES Listings

CITES CoP17, Johannesburg, South Africa, starts tomorrow. This is the 17th Conference of Parties mee

 

CITES Draft Decisions Give Banggai Cardinalfish a Reprieve

October 20, 2016 in General Banggai Info, Slideshow

The dazzling Banggai Cardinalfish still poses a dilemma for those who follow its populations in a remote archipelago in Indonesia. Image: Colin Foord.

The dazzling Banggai Cardinalfish still poses a dilemma for those who follow its populations in a remote archipelago in Indonesia. Image: Colin Foord.

A New Chapter for Indonesia and the Pterapogon kauderni fishery?

by Ret Talbot

originally published Oct. 5, 2016, via the Good Catch Blog

Over the past several days, I have been reporting on the 17th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (CoP17) to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). My focus has been primarily on the marine species proposed for regulation under CITES with an emphasis on the Banggai Cardinalfish, a species I have covered extensively here and elsewhere. Now that CoP17 is over, a new chapter begins for the Banggai Cardinalfish, and the following is really the beginning of that story.

On Monday, the European Union withdrew its proposal to list the Banggai Cardinalfish (Pterapogon kauderni) under CITES Appendix II.

The withdrawal occurred following Indonesia’s acceptance of a series of draft decisions, which are outlined below. On Tuesday, during the CoP17 plenary session, the withdrawal and the draft decisions were officially adopted (see video above), beginning another chance for Indonesia (and the aquarium trade) to put in place effective reforms for conservation and sustainable harvest of the species.

Species included on Appendix II are those that, although currently not threatened with extinction, may become so without trade controls. The inclusion of the Banggai Cardinalfish on Appendix II was supported by the CITES Secretariat, as well as the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United States and numerous other Parties, NGOs and observers who believe the Banggai Cardinalfish meets the criteria for inclusion.

The proposal was opposed by Indonesia, the only range state for the species, as well as by the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Laos) and Kuwait. Aquarium trade associations also generally opposed the proposal, although Ornamental Fish International (OFI), which had a representative present at CoP17, said “we are open to possible new information that could emerge during the CoP.”

CITES is the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora and organisms listed are subject to many trade and possession restrictions. A listing for the Banggai Cardinalfish could have led to a ban on its import into the EU.

CITES is the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora and organisms listed are subject to many trade and possession restrictions. A listing for the Banggai Cardinalfish could have led to a ban on its import into the EU.

Of the 62 proposals considered at CoP17, only six, including the proposal to include the Banggai Cardinalfish, were withdrawn.

The final adopted draft decisions agreed to by Indonesia are as follows:

Directed to Indonesia

  • 17.X1 Indonesia should implement conservation and management measures to ensure the sustainability of international trade in Pterapogon kauderni, and report progress on these measures to the Animals Committee at its 30th meeting (possibly in mid-2018).

Directed to the Secretariat

  • 17.X2 Subject to external funding, the Secretariat shall commission a study to assess the impact of international trade on the conservation status of Pterapogon kauderni and to advise on suitable conservation and management measures, as appropriate.
  • 17.X3 The Secretariat shall share the results of the study as referred to under decision 17.X2 with the Animals Committee at its 30th meeting.
Fishing dock in the Banggai Islands where the Indonesian government has struggled to enforce fishery regulations. Image: Ret Talbot.

Fishing dock in the Banggai Islands where the Indonesian government has struggled to enforce fishery regulations. Image: Ret Talbot.

Directed to the Animal Committee

  • 17.X4 The Animals Committee shall, at its 30th meeting, review the progress report submitted by Indonesia as referred to under Decision 17.X1, as well as the results of the study as referred to under Decision 17.X2, and make its recommendations to the 18th meeting of the Conference of the Parties.

Directed to donor Parties and other relevant organizations

  • 17.X5 Donor Parties and other relevant organizations, including FAO, are invited and encouraged to provide support to Indonesia and to the Secretariat for the purpose of implementing Decisions 17.X1 to 17.X3.

The 30th meeting of the CITES Animals Committee will likely be held during the spring or summer of 2018. The role of the Animals Committee is to provide technical support to decision-making regarding species of animals that are subject to CITES trade controls. The members of the Animals Committee represent the six major geographical regions (Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, Central and South America and the Caribbean, and Oceania) as well as one specialist on nomenclature. Members are elected at the CoP, with the number of regional representatives weighted according to the number of member nations or “parties” within each region and according to the regional distribution of biodiversity. COP18 will be held in 2019 in Sri Lanka.

Mixed Reactions to Decision

In a statement posted to its Facebook page, OFI praised the EU’s decision to withdraw its proposal to include the Banggai Cardinalfish on Appendix II and instead to propose the draft decisions listed above.

OFI…wholeheartedly supports the agreement that was adopted yesterday; to give Indonesia the possibility to implement conservation and management measures, with the support of the CITES Secretariat, Parties and organisations, including the FAO, in the time leading up to the 30th meeting of the CITES Animals Committee.

Svein A. Fosså, an aquarium and pet trade consultant who represented OFI at CoP17 and who is also a longstanding observer in Animals Committee meetings, was pleased with the EU’s action and the draft decisions, saying “We could hardly have expected a better outcome, for the species, for the trade and for the livelihoods in Indonesia.”

It should be noted that many in favor of the withdrawal also note the precarious nature of the species’ conservation status and even acknowledge, as the FAO does, that it meets the criteria for inclusion on Appendix II. Nonetheless, they feel a listing was not the right path forward and that the draft decisions listed above are a much better outcome than forcing a CITES listing on the only range country despite its strenuous opposition.

Wild Pterapogon kauderni: Aquarists now can choose between captive bred and wild-collected Banggai Cardinalfish, the latter usually a lower prices. Image: Shutterstock.

Wild Pterapogon kauderni: Aquarists now can choose between captive bred and wild-collected Banggai Cardinalfish, the latter usually a lower prices. Image: Shutterstock.

Not everyone was as optimistic though.

“I would say that the fact that in eight years there has not been significant improvements to stocks makes me wonder about the ability for us to help this species recover [without a CITES listing],” says Michael Tlusty of the New England Aquarium in Boston. Tlusty’s project to better monitor the aquarium trade is a winner in this year’s Wildlife Tech Challenge. “Are we preserving the status quo, or will the call for more effort and data to understand this species actually move the needle towards improvement?” Tlusty’s concerns are concerns that were also expressed by the US delegate in support of the EU proposal to grant the Banggai Cardinalfish CITES protection. As the US delegate made clear prior to the EU withdrawing its proposal, Indonesia’s efforts to better manage the species to date have proven largely ineffective.

During CoP14 in 2007, the US withdrew its own proposal to include the Banggai Cardinalfish on Appendix II, citing Indonesia’s renewed commitment at that time to better managing the trade in the species. “At that time, we were convinced that the national conservation management plan presented by Indonesia would help stem the decline of this species,” the US delegate said on Monday. “However, since then, the national conservation measures seem to be insufficient, and CITES regulation would compliment the measures that are in place by Indonesia.”

The US delegate went on to note that in the intervening years since the US withdrew its own proposal in 2007, the conservation status of the Banggai Cardinalfish under Indonesia’s management has not improved. “We would note that the FAO Expert Advisory Panel…since the first evaluation, has found now that local extinction has occurred at five sites across the Banggai Archipelago with an additional seven sites where there are declines in abundance.” [View the full intervention by the US in support of the EU proposal in the video below.]

While they may differ in their degree of optimism, both Fosså and Tlusty are hopeful that the draft decisions put in place at CoP14 will indeed move the needle in terms of the conservation status of the species. Although we likely won’t know the results until the Animals Committee reviews the progress report submitted by Indonesia, as well as the results of the study commissioned by the Secretariat regarding the conservation status of the species, there is some comfort in the fact that there is now at least an international framework with set deadlines in place. Perhaps it will insure that we don’t see a hat trick at CoP18 insofar as withdrawals of Banggai Cardinalfish proposals are concerned.

CORRECTION: An earlier draft of this entry said Svein A. Fosså sits on the Animals Committee. Fosså is an observer in Animals Committee meetings, but not a formal member. He intends to be present at AC30.

2016 CITES Results for Aquarium Fish and Inverts

October 20, 2016 in General Banggai Info, Slideshow

As originally published at Reef2Rainforest.com

Clarion Angelfish, Holacanthus clarionensis, is a somewhat rare species in the aquarium trade, and is now afforded CITES Appendix II trade regulations. Image by Elias Levy, cropped and rotated, CC-BY-2.0

Clarion Angelfish, Holacanthus clarionensis, is a somewhat rare species in the aquarium trade, and is now afforded CITES Appendix II trade regulations. Image by Elias Levy/CC-BY-2.0

October 13, 2016
UPDATE: New aquatic species of interest to the aquarium trade that have just been proposed for CITES Listings include:

• Clarion Angelfish (Holacanthus clarionensis)
• All members of the Family Nautilidae (nautiluses, six species)
• Potamotrygon spp. (freshwater stingrays, including Potamotrygon motoro)


In late September, just days before CITES CoP17 (Conference of Parties Meeting 17) got underway, we shared the proposals to list 4 aquarium-related species under the convention. Listings, and the appendix a species is listed within, can have wide-ranging trade implications, from simply applying trade reporting requirements to outright bans on trade. The CoP17 decisions are in, and will affect every aquarium-related group or species that had been up for discussion.

CITES CoP17 Aquarium Species Recap

Proposed: Include the Ocellate River Stingray, Potamotrygon motoro, in Appendix II, proposed by Bolivia

Decided: The proposal was withdrawn by Bolivia. Instead, as reported by Svein A. Fosså, “Bolivia will instead list the species in [Appendix III] as soon as possible. Colombia has earlier at this CoP announced that they will list several stingrays in [Appendix III]; and Brazil all Potamotrygon spp. in [Appendix III]. This is in accordance with several previous recommendations from various CITES bodies.”

Proposed: Include the Clarion Angelfish, Holacanthus clarionensis, in Appendix II, proposed by Mexico

Decided: Despite the CITES Secretariat recommending against this listing, it was “Accepted [with 69 Parties voting in favour, 21 against and 15 abstaining]. ”

Proposed: Include the Banggai Cardinalfish, Pterapogon kauderni, in Appendix II, proposed by the European Union

Decided: The proposal was “Withdrawn. Instead five draft decisions, contained in CoP17 Com. I. 32 were agreed by consensus. [Rec.14].” We’ll share more on this story in a follow-up from Ret Talbot.

Proposed: Include the Family Nautilidae in Appendix II, proposed by Fiji, India, Palau, and the United States of America

Decided: The proposal to list all Nautilidae under Appendix II was “Accepted [with 84 Parties voting in favour, 9 against and 10 abstaining]. [Rec.14].”

As noted in the official recap press release of CoP17, “Changes to the CITES Appendices, Resolutions and Decisions enter into force 90 days after the CoP.”

This means that starting Monday, January 2, 2017, international trade in Potamotrygon spp. will require either an export permit or certificate of origin when being imported. Meanwhile, trade in the Clarion Angelfish, whether captive-bred in Indonesia or wild-caught in Mexico, will require CITES permits akin to those currently required to trade in all stony corals and wild seahorses; the same will become true for Nautilids.

CITES Appendix III listings for Potamotrygon spp. by multiple countries will add a new layer of complexity to the trade in freshwater stingrays. Potamotrygon motoro shown here. Image by Jim Capaldi, retouched, CC BY 2.0

CITES Appendix III listings for Potamotrygon spp. by multiple countries will add a new layer of complexity to the trade in freshwater stingrays. Potamotrygon motoro shown here. Image by Jim Capaldi, retouched, CC BY 2.0

CITES Setting Aside Science, Preferring Sentiment?

Svein A. Fosså attended CoP17 as as an observer for Ornamental Fish International (OFI), and has attended all CoPs and most Animals Committee meetings since CoP11 in 2000. Reporting as-it-happened to friends and associates via social media, Fosså shared concerns about the process of listings and the way CITES decisions were made this year.

“Yesterday’s long working day ended in a hectic night session where several listing proposals were pushed through in very little time, with next to no debate and zero possibility for NGOs to [comment] on most issues.

“Reptile keepers and traders have had a very bad CoP with lots of listings that hardly meet any scientific listing criteria, and where CITES is unlikely to give any conservation benefits whatsoever. The plentiful animal rights lobbyists had the more reason to rejoice, with their [loud] cheers resounding in the hall every time a new species was banned from trade,” lamented Fosså.

We relay his concerns regarding the reptile listings, as Fosså feels that the listing of the Clarion Angelfish under Appendix II may be another example of a comparable failure at CoP17. “The Mexican endemic species Holacanthus clarionensis suffered a fate similar to the reptiles. [Everyone] who cares about science as a foundation for CITES, there under the CITES Secretariat, IUCN/TRAFFIC and FAO had recommended against this listing. In the hectic late night session it was, however, voted in and agreed with more than 2/3 majority, without any debate.”

In discussing these observations recently, Fosså believes that “Most of your readers will not understand to what grave extent it now is being used to ban trade on animal rights grounds and emotions. It is perverse when the cheers are [loud] every time a species is up-listed (because CITES measures have failed), but success stories where CITES have worked (like the Peregrine Falcon this year) are prevented from being down-listed to [Appendix II], where it now truly belongs.”

Captive-bred Clarion Angelfish from Bali Aquarich, like this specimen imported by Carolina Aquatics, will now be subjected to CITES permit requirements in order to legally entry the country. Image courtesy Carolina Aquatics

Captive-bred Clarion Angelfish from Bali Aquarich, like this specimen imported by Carolina Aquatics, will now be subjected to CITES permit requirements in order to legally enter the country. Image courtesy Carolina Aquatics

 

Large scale cultivation of the Clarion Angelfish by Bali Aquarich could prove an interesting wrinkle for trade regulation, considering that Mexico (who proposed the Appendix II listing) is the source country for wild Clarion Angelfishes. Image courtesy Bali Aquarich.

Large-scale cultivation of the Clarion Angelfish by Bali Aquarich could prove an interesting wrinkle for trade regulation, considering that Mexico (which proposed the Appendix II listing) is the source country for wild Clarion Angelfishes. Image courtesy Bali Aquarich.

 

Nautilids and Banggais – CITES Got It Right?

The decision to list Nautilids under Appendix II seems to have wide-ranging support. The Center for Biological Diversity issued a press release supporting the decision, and Fosså noted that OFI was ready to “actively support the proposal to list the Nautilidae in [Appendix II],” but again there was no opportunity to officially comment.

Trade in Nautilus spp., such as this N. belauensis from Palau, will now be regulated under CITES Appendix II. The curio/shell trade is mainly cited as the cause for population declines of Nautilids. Image by Manuae - CC BY-SA 3.0

Trade in Nautilus spp., such as this N. belauensis from Palau, will now be regulated under CITES Appendix II. The curio/shell trade is mainly cited as the cause for population declines of Nautilids. Image by ManuaeCC BY-SA 3.0

OFI also released an official statement in support of the ultimate Banggai Cardinalfish compromise, which the UK’s Ornamental Aquatic Trade Association (OATA) quickly endorsed.

“The situation for the Banggai Cardinal Fish has been of major concern to OFI for many years, although not necessarily for the same reasons as suggested by CITES CoP17 prop. 46.
We are dealing with a species with a very restricted distribution, exposed to a multitude of threats. In addition to the collection for the ornamental fish trade, which has shown a decreasing trend in later years, these threats include destruction of the macro and micro habitats, due to destructive fishing methods for food fish and selective targeting of the host sea anemones and sea urchins. Use as feeder fish in mariculture of food fish has been reported to be an added threat.

“Because of the complexity of the threat factors for the species, we could not agree to CITES Appendix II listing being an effective tool for protecting the species.
Through the unfortunate experience with the listing of the seahorses 14 years ago, we are in no doubt that Indonesia with a listing of the Banggai Cardinal Fish most likely would loose much or possibly even all of their trade to breeding operations in non-range countries; and that most likely with very little or no benefit whatsoever to the wild populations in the Banggai Archipelago. It could also not be ruled out that a listing would have an overall negative effect on the conservation of the species.

“OFI therefore wholeheartedly supports the agreement that was adopted yesterday; to give Indonesia the possibility to implement conservation and management measures, with the support of the CITES Secretariat, Parties and organisations, including the FAO, in the time leading up to the 30th meeting of the CITES Animals Committee.”

We encourage you to read Ret Talbot’s more detailed examination of the Banggai Plan enacted at CoP17, and three years from now, we hope to report back on the results of this plan as required to occur at CITES CoP18.

Banggais & Other Species Targeted for CITES Listings

September 23, 2016 in General Banggai Info, Slideshow

The Ocellate River Stingray or Motoro Stingray, Potamotrygon motoro, is the only freshwater aquarium fish whose aquarium-trade future is being discussed at the upcoming CITES CoP17 meeting. Image by Raimond Spekking, CC BY-SA 4.0

The Ocellate River Stingray or Motoro Stingray, Potamotrygon motoro, is the only freshwater aquarium fish whose aquarium-trade future is being discussed at the upcoming CITES CoP17 meeting. Image by Raimond Spekking, CC BY-SA 4.0

CITES CoP17, Johannesburg, South Africa, starts tomorrow. This is the 17th Conference of Parties meeting to be held, a meeting which has been held roughly every 2-3 years since the first CoP in 1976. CoP meetings are the time when changes to CITES listings for species are discussed and debated, culminating in the adoption of additions and revisions to the CITES appendices.

Among the many species up for discussion, three fish species noteworthy in the aquarium trade will be debated. The proposals include:

  • Include the Ocellate River Stingray Potamotrygon motoro. in Appendix II, proposed by Bolivia
  • Include the Clarion Angelfish, Holacanthus clarionensis, in Appendix II, proposed by Mexico
  • Include the Banggai Cardinalfish, Pterapogon kauderni. in Appendix II, proposed by the European Union

An additional proposal may be of interest to some aquarists:

  • Include the Family Nautilidae in Appendix II, proposed by Fiji, India, Palau and the United States of America

If listed, a species becomes difficult to trade without special permissions and paperwork and may be banned completely from sale into the European Union (EU).

Based on the released documentation, the CITES Secretariat has recommended to reject the listings for the Motoro Stingray (a freshwater species from South America) as well as recommending a similar rejection for the Clarion Angelfish. In the latter case, the Secretariat notes that, “Mexico may wish to consider including Holacanthus clarionensis in CITES Appendix III.”

The Clarion Angelfish, Holacanthus clarionensis, is a somewhat rare species in the aquarium trade, typically selling for $2500 to $4000 per fish, and these days more commonly seen as a captive-bred offering out of Bali Aquarich. Image by Elias Levy, CC-BY-2.0

The Clarion Angelfish, Holacanthus clarionensis, is a somewhat rare species in the aquarium trade, typically selling for $2500 to $4000 per fish, and these days more commonly seen as a captive-bred offering out of Bali Aquarich. Image by Elias Levy, CC-BY-2.0

The CITES Secretariat’s recommendations include support for the listing of all nautiloids in Appendix II. This will likely have little impact on the aquarium trade in the species, which appears to be extremely limited.

A Chambered Nautilus, on display at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Image by Eric Kilby, CC-BY-SA-2.0

bn A Chambered Nautilus, on display at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Image by Eric Kilby, CC-BY-SA-2.0

A listing of nautiloids will likely have little impact on the aquarium trade in the various species, which appears to be extremely limited based on information from AquariumTradeData.org, with never more than 200 Nautilus spp. being imported to the US in a given year, and usually significantly less.

US import data on all nautiloid species from AquariumTradeData.org. Key: Gray = 2000, Green = 2008, Blue = 2009, Red = 2011.

US import data on all nautiloid species from AquariumTradeData.org. Key: Gray = 2000, Green = 2008, Blue = 2009, Red = 2011.

It is the consideration of the the Banggai Cardinalfish for Appendix II listing that perhaps will garner the most attention from the aquarists, and this proposal currently has a recommendation to approve coming from the CITES Secretariat (it should be noted that the Secretariat’s recommendations are just that; they are not binding decisions already set).

What is CITES?

For any reader unfamiliar with CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, CITES.org includes a detailed introduction for review. This international agreement is currently voluntarily adhered to by 183 countries. CITES listings already play a role in the international trade of several groups of species traded for aquarium purposes, perhaps most notably including many corals and all seahorses.

Listings of a species, genus or family under CITES Appendices I, II or III, has various trade ramifications. Appendix I species essentially being off limits, Appendix II species having their trade controlled, and Appendix III with more minimal trade documentation requirements than Appendix II (view detailed explanations of Appendices on the CITES website).

John Kamp at World of Fish in Duluth, MN, inspecting recently arrived Banggai Cardinalfish. The species remains a perennial favorite, generally in the top-10 species imported into the US.

John Kamp at World of Fish in Duluth, MN, inspecting recently arrived Banggai Cardinalfish. The species remains a perennial favorite, generally in the top-10 species imported into the US.

IUCN, CITES, the ESA, and the Banggai Cardinalfish

The Banggai Cardinalfish was first proposed for CITES listing in Appendix II by the United States during CoP14, at the Hauge, Netherlands, in 2007. Just a few months prior, the Banggai Cardinalfish had been listed on the IUCN Red List as an Endangered Species, where it remains at this time (it’s noteworthy that the Red List does not have any effect on trade in a species). The proposal to list the Banggai under CITES in 2007 ultimately failed.

Since that time, the trade in wild Banggai Cardinalfish has continued, although since roughly 2013, it appears that in some markets, captive-bred Banggai Cardinalfish produce by large scale operations in Asia have potentially overtaken the bulk of the trade volume in the species. After review in 2015, at the start of 2016, the Banggai Cardinalfish was listed within the US under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) as Threatened, with the Final Rule becoming effective February 19th, 2016.

A male Pterapogon kauderni holding a clutch of freshly spawned eggs in his mouth; this popular species is known for their paternal mouthbrooding behavior.

A male Pterapogon kauderni holding a clutch of freshly spawned eggs in his mouth; this popular species is known for their paternal mouthbrooding behavior.

The Reattempt to List the Banggai under CITES

With this latest proposal to list the Banggai under CITES, once again the debate over aquarium fisheries and the aquarium trade comes to the forefront, and not everyone is in agreement.

OATA, the Ornamental Aquatic Trade Association, is the organization representing the aquarium trade in the UK. OATA issued a position statement in opposition to the EU’s proposal to list the Banggai under Appendix II.

OATA beings by citing Indonesia’s ongoing opposition to the listing, something which was generally cited as part of the reason the 2007 proposal failed. “The proposal to list Banggai Cardinal fish on Appendix II is not supported by Indonesia, the only range country for the species. Indonesia considers that such a listing will do nothing to support their national management of the species.”

Furthermore, OATA notes that, “The proposal to put Banggai Cardinal fish on Appendix II is a repetition of an earlier failed listing attempt from 2007. However OATA believes that, although updated, the current proposal does not show any likely benefits of a listing. While the proposal indicates that there has been a continuing decline in Banggai Cardinal fish populations within its original distribution area in the Banggai Archipelago, it is unclear what the main factors for the decline are. There are other threats to the species such as habitat destruction which most likely are more significant than the trade, and that can be expected to increase if the trade incentive for protecting the species is lost.” [read the full position statement here]

Dr. Andrew Rhyne, a leading aquarium trade and aquaculture researcher and author of the paper Is sustainable exploitation of coral reefs possible? A view from the standpoint of the marine aquarium trade, differs in his opinion.

On the eve of CoP17, Rhyne wrote, “The only way forward for the trade in wild BCF [Banggai Cardinalfish] is for it to have a regulated trade. CITES does not prohibit trade, it does increase the burden for trade and for this species that burden is something that likely needs to be in place. Having a higher cost fish or entire shipment is the price that has to be paid for ensuring the unregulated trade in BCF is curtailed. The natural populations of this species have been greatly impacted by trade. There is no one that can suggest it hasn’t. There is overwhelming evidence that it’s natural range has been greatly impacted by trade. That is precisely the purpose of CITES. To allow trade but regulated trade. CITES has worked very well for seahorses and the aquarium trade. Hasn’t worked well for the CTM in seahorses.”

CoP17 runs through October 5th, so within the next two weeks, we’ll know which species and groups, if any, obtain new protections under CITES.

References:

CoP17 Species Proposals – https://cites.org/sites/default/files/eng/cop/17/WorkingDocs/E-CoP17-88-01-A1.pdf

CoP17 Banggai Cardinalfish Listing Proposal – http://ec.europa.eu/environment/cites/pdf/cop17/Pterapogon%20kauderni.pdf

CoP14 Banggai Cardinalfish Listing Proposal – https://www.cites.org/eng/cop/14/prop/E14-P19.pdf

OATA Position Statement – http://www.ornamentalfish.org/uncatogorized/oata-position-on-forthcoming-cites-meeting


Additional Reading:

Banggai Rescue Project:  http://www.reef2rainforest.com/banggai-rescue-project/

For an in-depth look at the plight of the Banggai Cardinalfish, a limited number of copies of the highly praised book, Banggai Cardinalfish, the publication of the Banggai Rescue Project, are still available.

Talbot, Ret. Pedersen, M. and Wittenrich, M. (2013). Banggai Cardinalfish: A Guide to Captive Care, Breeding & Natural History hardcover ed.  Available from Amazon and aquarium booksellers.

Banggai Cardinalfish, the book from Ret Talbot, Matt Pedersen and Dr. Matthew L. Wittenrich, investigating the past, present and future of this iconic and troubled aquarium fish.

Banggai Cardinalfish, the book from Ret Talbot, Matt Pedersen and Dr. Matthew L. Wittenrich, investigating the past, present and future of this iconic and troubled aquarium fish.

IN STOCK!

Dealers: Contact Julian Sprung at Two Little Fishies for wholesale quantities.

Vagelli, A. 2001. The Banggai Cardinalfish: Natural History, Conservation, and Culture of Pterapogon kauderni. Wiley-Blackwell. Available from Amazon.

Banggai Cardinalfish Books Have Shipped!

September 8, 2013 in Kickstarter Updates, Project Updates, Slideshow

The Banggai Cardinalfish, 304 pages, Hardcover $44.95, Quality Softcover $34.95.

It’s another great week for all the Banggai Rescue Project. Tuesday, September 3rd, we began shipping hardcover and softcover copies of our book, Banggai Cardinalfish: A Guide to Captive Care, Breeding, & Natural History.

Copies destined for US addresses were shipped via USPS Priority Mail on Tuesday, which means most recipients in the US should have them. If you haven’t received your copy by perhaps Sept 12th or so, drop us an email so we can track your copy down! Most folks have received them, and feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.

International copies were shipped on Wednesday, September 4th. These will take longer to arrive, potentially significantly so; your patience is again appreciated!

eBook recipients should expect something very soon as well (possibly as early as this coming week); we’re simply finalizing the details prior to distribution.

Any outstanding rewards our team owes you are being worked on; a couple backers must wait just a little longer for special embellishments in their books, limited edition giclee prints, or original art. Any other outstanding rewards should be wrapped up in short order to the best of our ability.

I think I speak for all of us when I say we’re very happy to see the light at the end of the tunnel for this chapter of the Kickstarter project!

For anyone who did not back Banggai Rescue at a reward level with the book, but would now like to obtain a copy, publisher-direct single copies (hardcover, softcover and digital) are now available at: https://portal.publishersserviceassociates.com/carts/reef2rainforest/index.php?route=product/category&path=37

Additionally, wholesale orders are now shipping from Two Little Fishies – www.twolittlefishies.com for resale purchases.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me (team member Matt Pedersen) directly via email – matt.pedersen at reef2rainforest.com and I will personally address your inquiry.

Thank you yet again for all your patience and support.

Matt Pedersen

The book Banggai Cardinalfish, some F1 Pterapogon kauderni, and co-author / team member Matt Pedersen

The book Banggai Cardinalfish, some F1 Pterapogon kauderni, and co-author / team member Matt Pedersen

Banggai Cardinalfish Book Debuts at 2013 Florida MACNA

August 27, 2013 in Project Updates, Slideshow

Banggai Cardinalfish: A Guide to Captive Care, Breeding & Natural History

Banggai Cardinalfish: A Guide to Captive Care, Breeding & Natural History

BANGGAI RESCUE PROJECT

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

BANGGAI CARDINALFISH BOOK TO DEBUT AT MACNA SOUTH FLORIDA

HOLLYWOOD, FLORIDA – The long-awaited book from the Banggai Rescue Project will be launched at the Marine Aquarium Conference of North America here, August 30 to September 1.

Entitled Banggai Cardinalfish: A Guide to Captive Care, Breeding & Natural History, the book is authored by a who’s who in the marine aquarium world: Ret Talbot, Matt Pedersen, Matthew L. Wittenrich, Ph.D., Martin A. Moe, Jr. and aquatic veterianarians Roy Yanong, V.M.D. and Thomas Waltzek, D.V.M., Ph.D.  The foreword is written by Dr. Gerald Allen, who rediscovered the species and presented it to the aquarium world in 1994. James Lawrence, editor of CORAL Magazine and more than 30 Microcosm marine aquarium titles, wrote the introduction and edited the volume. Julian Sprung, through his Two Little Fishies Inc., is the exclusive distributor of the book. Read the rest of this entry →

Cross Country Banggai Cardinalfish Book Signing

August 14, 2013 in Kickstarter Updates, Project Updates, Slideshow

Ever wonder how you get a signed copy of a book when there are numerous co-authors residing in places like Minnesota, Maine, and Florida?  One might assume that you simply ship a crate of books around, but the costs to actually do so would be exorbitant.  No, the solution is far more elegant.

As we draw ever closer to the 2013 MACNA release of the Banggai Rescue Project’s publication Banggai Cardinalfish, adhesive book plates are making their way from Shelburne, Vermont, to Duluth, Minnesota, to Rockland, Maine, to Tampa, Florida, collecting signatures along the way. Yes, one more sign that our long awaited book is truly, finally here.

For our Kickstarter Backers who are due a physical copy of our book, you’ll be receiving an email directly from co-author Matt Pedersen regarding your attendance at MACNA this year, and whether you would like to pick up your copy of Banggai Cardinalfish in Miami. We look forward to wrapping up any and all outstanding Kickstarter Rewards very soon!

Thanks again for the ongoing support you’ve given this project.

– The Banggai Rescue Team –

Banggai Rescue – Sneak Preview Video

July 19, 2013 in Kickstarter Updates, Project Updates, Slideshow

Set to launch at the Marine Aquarium Conference of North America (MACNA 2013) in South Florida, The Banggai Cardinalfish book represents almost two years’ of work and the involvement of hundreds of saltwater aquarists, marine biologists, aquarium industry leaders, and many conservation-minded supporters.

The Banggai Cardinalfish, 304 pages, Hardcover $44.95, Quality Softcover $34.95.

The Banggai Cardinalfish, 304 pages, Hardcover $44.95, Quality Softcover $34.95.

For a preview of the book, see this video by Matt Pedersen that runs through the entire 304 pages in about a minute and shows the scope of the international Banggai Rescue Project.

The book will be distributed by Julian Sprung and Two Little Fishies in partnership with Reef to Rainforest Media, publishers of CORAL and AMAZONAS Magazines.

“This book should make us all proud to be marine aquarists,” says Editor & Publisher James Lawrence. “The marine aquarium community has rallied to respond to a situation in which a uniquely beautiful and fascinating fish has been threatened by unregulated collection in a remote archipelago in Indonesia. We have unwittingly been part of the problem, but now we can feel that we are part of the solution.”

“Perhaps the most important outcome of the Project so far has been the collaboration between our science team and their counterparts in Indonesia who are working to reform the Banggai Cardinal fishery while supporting the livelihoods of indigenous fishers in their own waters.”

Book Credits::

Ret Talbot • Matt Pedersen • Matthew L. Wittenrich, Ph.D.

Foreword by Dr. Gerald R. Allen

with Martin A. Moe, Jr., Roy Yanong, V.M.D., and Thomas Waltzek, D.V.M., Ph.D.

Publishing Team:

Edited by James M. Lawrence

Designed by Linda Provost

Production: Anne Linton Elston

Copyediting: Louise Watson, Alex Bunten

Business Manager: Judith R. Billard

Project Corporate Sponsors

Books will be available at MACNA, August 30 to September 1 at the Two Little Fishies booth.

Announcements coming soon about how to order the book.

Better Late Than Never: Banggai Cardinalfish Book to Debut Soon

June 3, 2013 in Kickstarter Updates, Project Updates, Slideshow

Project update from Ret Talbot

A year ago, I was preparing for a trip to Indonesia to immerse myself in the world of a small reef fish called the Banggai cardinalfish with the intent of contributing to an important book on the species. Editor James Lawrence recently sent me a revised copy of the manuscript (including some absolutely stunning layouts shown here), and it has me thinking back over the past year and the places this project has taken me both physically and intellectually. It also has me thinking about getting the book into your hands!

Taking the Time to Get it Right

While travelling halfway around the world to better understand a fish and its relationship to its environment and the fishers who interact with it is something to which I am not unaccustomed in my line of work, there was (and remains) something different—something very special—about the Banngai cardinalfish project. For one, it has been a much larger project than any of us anticipated, and the challenges along the way have been significant.

From lengthy delays in getting the science done right to dealing with our own losses of broodstock secondary to the very virus about which we were writing, everything seemed to take twice as long as expected. Having said that, what we have learned has reinforced the importance of embarking on the Project in the first place. We have made the internal decision to take the time to do it right, and while we know the delay is frustrating, we think the final product (which is now over 300 pages–about 35% more than projected!) will more than justify our decision.

As you know, we had originally planned on having the book signed, sealed and delivered last September, a timeline that, with hindsight, seems absurd. Speaking for myself, I thought I had a pretty good handle on the species and the fishery. After all, I have been covering it since 2008. I knew I needed to get up to speed on the virus impacting the species and the current fisheries data, and I knew I’d need to dig a little deeper into the species-specific physiology (with the help of my scientific illustrator wife and her microscope, of course), but that wouldn’t take that long, would it?

It did…and it has…and it continues to. Take a lot of time, that is.

A Deep Sense of Responsibility to the Reader

When I work on any project, be it a blog entry, a feature magazine article or a book, I feel a deep sense of responsibility to give the reader as full a picture as possible, not because I want to tell the reader what to think, but rather because I want the reader to have enough information on board to engage intelligently in the dialog. To me, promoting discussion on topics I think are important is my number one job as a writer.

When it comes to the Banggai project, we have found a space full of controversy and politics, conflicting information and strong emotions. Capturing the many facets of this story, while also trying to work with divergent groups and navigate a geopolitical minefield inhabited by NGOs, international fisheries managers and a marine ornamental trade dealing with a host of its own controversial issues (many of which are both directly and indirectly tied to the Banggai cardinalfish) has been one of the most complex assignments I have undertaken. Collaborating with international partners has proved logistically challenging but essential. Dealing with a story that keeps evolving (I just got a call last week that could have major implications on several key aspects of the book), can be exasperating. Following each twist and turn has meant travelling thousands of miles, reading countless pages, taking multiple notebooks full of notes, and shooting more images than I care to edit. In all this, I want you, the reader, to know you have been on my shoulder.

Whether you are an aquarist, a diver, a biologist, a fisheries manager, an aquaculturist, or any number of other epitaphs of potential readers of this book, I have tried to keep you in mind—and my responsibility to you—throughout the process. All of us who have worked on the Project have gone way beyond the work for which we knew we would be compensated, because the work has become a passion—because we care so much about the role this book can play in promoting critical conversations.

Attempting to package all of this into a book that will encourage intelligent and essential dialog about the species and its future has been an extremely difficult and yet an infinitely rewarding experience. As I work my way through the draft manuscript James sent me, I am growing increasingly excited to get this book—and more importantly—this information out into the world. As I look at the layouts the team at Reef to Rainforest in Vermont has put together, I become more and more enthused about what we have accomplished and how that will soon be handed over to you so you can take the next step.

Nuts and Bolts

So what does this all look like in pragmatic terms? It means we are woefully behind our original timeline, but it also means we are rapidly closing in on a publication date of a book about which we are very proud. As we have asked already, we continue to request that you indulge us. Those of you who subscribe to CORAL and AMAZONAS know the very high quality of production for which Reef to Rainforest is known, and producing a book of equal quality and beauty takes time, but we think it’s worth it.

As much of the work has now shifted to production and moving quickly toward presses running, Karen and I here in Maine are freed up to get the next set of rewards into the mail. Most of you should either have some of your rewards already in hand or have a tracking number that was emailed to you. For the higher-level donors, we need to hold off just a little bit longer (sorry!), as some of you are receiving original artwork that is also appearing in the book. We decided to send everyone who made any contribution to the project, a notecard set, including three notecards featuring a scientific illustration by Karen and three notecards featuring a photograph by me. Those will be coming via USPS in the next two weeks, so be on the lookout.

If you have any questions about any of these rewards (or anything else), please feel free to email me directly at Ret@RetTalbot.com. While we are eager to get these tokens of appreciation of your support into your hands, we want you to know we are also keeping our eyes on the prize and getting the best possible book published as soon as we are able.

Preview inside the Banggai Rescue Book

Preview inside the Banggai Rescue Book

Preview inside the Banggai Rescue Book

Banggai Rescue Project: A Biologist’s Perspective

February 27, 2013 in Book Excerpts, General Banggai Info, Project Updates, Slideshow

Dr. Gerry Allen with first live specimens of Banggai Cardinalfish he collected in 1994. Note expelled Banggai Cardinal fry in bottom of bag, the first clue that the species was an extraordinary mouthbrooder. Image by Roger Steene.

Dr. Gerry Allen with first live specimens of Banggai Cardinalfish he collected in 1994. Note expelled Banggai Cardinal fry in bottom of bag, the first clue that the species was an extraordinary mouthbrooder. Image by Roger Steene.

Editor’s Note: For many of us, Dr. Gerald R. Allen, known throughout the aquatics world as Gerry, is one of the living heroes of reef fish science. A protégé of the legendary Dr. John Randall, Gerry has personally found and described a tremendous array of new fish species and published a wide-ranging library of marine guidebooks and scientific papers, while persevering in efforts to preserve marine species diversity in the Coral Triangle.

As the ichthyologist who introduced the Banggai Cardinalfish to modern science and the aquarium hobby, Gerry has graciously lent his support to The Banggai Rescue Project. Here is an excerpt from his Foreword to the soon-to-be-published Banggai Cardinalfish book, coming from the publishers of CORAL.
James Lawrence
Shelburne, Vermont

FOREWORD
Advance Excerpt from Banggai Cardinalfish, Official Publication of the Banggai Rescue Project

By Gerald R. Allen, Ph.D.

My personal quest for this extraordinary fish began just over 20 years ago, when I received a photo of an unusual discovery taken by a diver friend, Kal Muller. Kal took the photo during his recent visit to a remote island off the eastern coast of Sulawesi. The wide-angle shot showed a group of apogonids sheltering near a Long-Spined Sea Urchin. It was definitely something special. In fact, I had never seen such a spectacular cardinalfish and assumed it certainly must be new to science. Somehow I would have to find a way to visit the Banggai Islands and collect this fantastic fish!

It took two more years before I was able to arrange travel to the Banggai Islands, as a side trip in conjunction with a biodiversity conference I planned to attend at Manado, in northern Sulawesi. Timing would be tight as there were only two flights per week to Luwuk, the jumping-off point to the Banggai Group. I invited frequent diving companion and renowned underwater photographer Roger Steene to join the mini-expedition. The trip was arranged for mid-November 1994. We would fly to Luwuk on the Thursday flight, make a quick visit to the Banggai Islands, hopefully collect and photograph the fish, and return to Manado on the Sunday flight. It didn’t leave much margin for error, but the busy conference schedule didn’t allow for extra time.

Pterapogon kauderni, photographed in 1994: a cardinalfish unlike any other.

Pterapogon kauderni, photographed in 1994: a cardinalfish unlike any other.

We arrived at Luwuk around noon and spent most of the day arranging passage on the Banggai ferry and shopping for snack foods. The ferry finally departed at midnight and we prepared for a sleepless night on deck with the throng of about 100 passengers, vehicles, and livestock. But to our pleasant surprise we were able to bargain with the captain, negotiating the hire of his personal quarters for 50,000 rupiahs, probably more than he would earn in salary for the entire voyage. The cabin was very small, but nevertheless comfortable. There were two beds, a fan, and an adjoining toilet, and room to spread out the photographic equipment. The journey took 12 hours, but the time passed quickly, especially as we were able to sleep in relative comfort. The last hour of the voyage was spectacular, as the ship negotiated a narrow passage between two jungle-clad islands. At last the vessel docked at the main wharf at Banggai. It was 12:00 noon and time to put our much-discussed plan into action. We didn’t have any time to spare; the ferry would depart in six hours.

Race to the pearl oyster farm
We hired the ferry’s radio operator, whom we nicknamed “Sparky,” to accompany us because he spoke a few words of English. As soon as the ferry was securely tied Sparky went ashore to hire a small motorboat, and within 30 minutes we were headed south along the western side of the island. Kal had given us vague instructions—he had found the fish near a wooden jetty at a pearl oyster farm owned by a Chinese man, in a bay about one hour by motorboat south of Banggai town. Sparky relayed this information to our driver, who nodded in recognition at the mention of “orang cina,” the Indonesian translation of Chinese man. Several pearl oyster farms are located along the coast, but evidently only one is owned by a Chinese person. Forty-five minutes later we pulled in to a narrow wooden jetty at one side of a picturesque bay.

Banggai Island jetty, 1994. Image by Roger Steene.

Banggai Island jetty, 1994. Image by Roger Steene.

It was a race to be first in the water. In less than a minute we were both submerged, but the fish was nowhere to be seen. I finned slowly away from the jetty, methodically checking every square metre. Kal had previously located the fish in only 6.5 feet (2 m) of depth, so the search was limited to shallow water near the shoreline. The bottom was an uninteresting blend of sandy silt and clumps of seagrass. After a dozen breath-hold dives I sorely missed the luxury of our usual scuba equipment. I inhaled another big breath and plunged down. Swimming close to the bottom, I rounded a large patch of seagrass, and suddenly there it was—a group of about 10 adults huddled around a long-spined Diadema sea urchin.

It’s difficult to describe the level of excitement at that moment, but suffice it to say there was a maximum adrenalin surge. The beauty of this fish in its natural habitat is something to behold. The combination of a striking color pattern and long, graceful filaments on the dorsal and tail fins is truly spectacular.

We had to work fast. I calculated we should spend no more than three hours at the site to allow ourselves ample time for the ferry departure. Further searching revealed several more groups, invariably huddled close to urchins, including a large aggregation containing more than 50 fish. Our first priority, and the most time-consuming chore, was underwater photography. Over the next two hours we took more than 200 shots. This, of course, was the predigital era, so after each 36-shot roll we had to tediously exit the water, towel off, and change film. Finally, with only half an hour remaining, it was time to collect a small sample. This proved a simple task, as the fish retreated among the sea urchin spines where they could be easily sandwiched between a pair of small hand nets. The first attempt yielded six adults, which were summarily placed in a plastic bag. One of the fish spat out an orange-coloured egg mass—not unusual, as male cardinalfishes are well known for their habit of oral egg incubation. A few more specimens were captured and placed in a separate bag. I could scarcely believe my eyes when I checked the second bag a few minutes later. There were more than two dozen miniature replicas of the adult fish that apparently had been expelled from the mouth cavities of two large fish that appeared to be incubating eggs, judging from their swollen throats. Brood care of live young was previously unknown in cardinalfishes.

Soul of a marine biologist: Pinning out a collected specimen for preservation and further study on the sole of a flip flop.

Soul of a marine biologist: Pinning out a collected specimen for preservation and further study on the sole of a flip flop.

Back aboard the ferry, I carefully pinned out the fins of the collected fish and preserved them in formalin solution for later study. We were ecstatic that our carefully laid plans had unfolded with clockwork perfection. Not only had the fish been successfully photographed and collected, but we also gained a sneak preview of its unusual lifestyle and breeding habits. To make things even sweeter, I thought this amazing fish was a new scientific find. However, detailed examination of the specimens in my laboratory at the Western Australian Museum and a review of taxonomic literature proved this assumption to be wrong. The fish had already been described! My investigations revealed that two subadult specimens were collected at Banggai Island in 1920 by a Dutch physician named Kaudern. The specimens had been sent to the Natural History Museum in Leiden and the species was eventually described in 1930 as a new genus and species, Pterapogon kauderni.

Sudden limelight for an obscure species
It seems hard to believe that this magnificent fish escaped the attention of collectors for decades, considering that Indonesia is a leading exporter of marine fishes for the international aquarium trade. However, it remained elusive thanks to the lack of a pelagic dispersal stage typical of most reef fishes and the consequent extremely limited geographic range, confined to an area seldom frequented by outsiders. Suddenly the Banggai Cardinalfish was thrust into the limelight, becoming an overnight sensation. I recounted the tale of its rediscovery at the Louisville MACNA Conference in 1995, and again in an article that appeared in the May 1996 issue of Tropical Fish Hobbyist Magazine. This was followed by a brief scientific paper reporting our observations of its natural habitat and unusual oral brooding habits.

Showing the first collected Banggai Cardinalfish to the Chinese owner of a pearl oyster farm where the species was found in abundance in 1994. Members of the Banggai Rescue expedition returned to the oyster farm in 2012 and found the fish’s population seriously reduced. Image by Roger Steene.

Showing the first collected Banggai Cardinalfish to the Chinese owner of a pearl oyster farm where the species was found in abundance in 1994. Members of the Banggai Rescue expedition returned to the oyster farm in 2012 and found the fish’s population seriously reduced. Image by Roger Steene.

I have experienced a certain degree of guilt for having triggered interest in this species, which almost overnight became one of the most popular species in the aquarium hobby. Considering its limited distribution, I was particularly disturbed to discover that thousands of specimens were being captured and exported each month—not an ideal conservation scenario for a fish that is geographically restricted and produces relatively few eggs compared to most reef fishes.

It is therefore particularly gratifying to see the initial results of the ongoing Banggai Rescue Project presented in this book. Hopefully, this welcome addition to our knowledge of this fascinating species will lead to reforms of the overfishing situation in the Banggai Islands and a solution to the baffling iridovirus problem that has had such a severe impact on imported specimens in recent years. Importantly, this book also includes the latest information for successfully rearing and maintaining Banggai Cardinalfish in captivity, a positive step that will certainly reduce the demand for wild-caught fish, thus making a valuable contribution to the conservation of the natural population.

Gerald R. Allen, Ph.D.
Perth, Western Australia

Addendum: On a subsequent visit to the islands in 1997 I had an opportunity to dive in Banggai Harbor, including next to the ferry jetty. To my surprise the Banggai Cardinalfish was exceedingly abundant among the jetty pylons and elsewhere around the harbor. Had we known this, we could have saved lots of time and energy, not to mention angst, on our initial 1994 visit.

Banggai Rescue - Banggai Cardinalfish Book CoverThe Book: Now in its final stages of production, the Banggai Cardinalfish book will be published in the spring of 2013. Starting with this excerpted Foreword and continuing with a first-hand look at the Banggai Cardinalfish in its native habitat, the book covers the fish’s natural history, conservation status in the wild, reproductive habits, and ways for small-scale breeders to become local suppliers of captive-bred Pterapogon kauderni. To sign up to receive notice of the publication date and to order the book, visit: Banggai Cardinalfish.

Rewards Coming To Our Supporters

December 13, 2012 in Project Updates, Slideshow

Banggai Rescue scientific illustrator Karen Talbot pictured here preparing 110 packages of prints and notecards for supporters. Image: Ret Talbot

The first round of Banggai rewards are departing Maine next week for your doorstep as we draw nearer to fulfilling our mission . Thanks to everyone once again for their support, and once again we’re sorry for the delay. The final results of the scientific work conducted in both Indonesia and Florida have just been received and reviewed, meaning that, with a couple small tweaks, we are ready to move toward press.