Tropical Fish Trade Threatens Coral Reef Ecosystems

More than 20 million tropical fish and up to 10 million other marine critters are caught each year for the aquarium trade, according to a new report from the U.N. Environment Programme. One of the most destructive harvesting methods involves stunning tropical fish with a near-lethal dose of sodium cyanide, which can harm not only fish but coral reef ecosystems as well. Still, the report found that if harvesting were conducted sustainably, the aquarium trade could help coastal communities in Southeast Asia fight poverty and provide locals with incentives to protect fish stocks and marine ecosystems. The nonprofit Marine Aquarium Council offers a certification program for ensuring that fish have been caught sustainably; the UNEP report recommends wider application of such programs.