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Collaborating for Coral Reef Wildlife
More than 1,800 species of fish, 140 species of corals and 500 species of other invertebrates live in home aquariums around the world. But as fish and other animals are taken from their reefs at rapid rates, sometimes using very destructive methods, the aquarium trade has had a serious impact on many of these species. Today, these methods continue to threaten reef fish and other invertebrates, as well as the coral reefs themselves. To stop harmful collection practices and ensure a sustainable future for coral reefs, Defenders is collaborating with Petco, an industry leader, to develop more sustainable and wildlife-friendly methods.
Petco is the largest retailer of marine fish and other coral reef wildlife in the U.S. Defenders’ scientists have been working with Petco to develop new guidelines for how saltwater fish and corals can be collected, transported and handled. We are also working to identify species that are particularly vulnerable and should not be collected at all. For some of these species, Defenders and Petco are exploring more sustainable alternatives. For the others, Petco plans to offer only aquacultured fish to reduce the impact on wild populations.
By offering fish born and bred in aquariums (called aquacultured) instead of collected from the ocean, the industry can reduce the demand for these fish from the wild and give populations that inhabit coral reefs a chance to recover and thrive. Despite the benefits, aquacultured fish currently make up less than 10 percent of marine fish species sold around the world. Petco is an industry leader in this area, with 23 percent of its saltwater fish already aquacultured. Working with Defenders’ experts, they aim to increase that number substantially, and eventually offer only aquacultured marine life in their stores to dramatically reduce the impacts the pet trade can have on coral reefs. Petco is also working with our scientists to create environment- and wildlife-friendly practices for their suppliers (those who collect the fish).
Some of Petco’s commitments include:
- Working with their suppliers to encourage the development of aquacultured aquatic life and make them available to our customers as an alternative to wild-collected
- Working with direct suppliers, third-party industry experts and NGOs like Defenders to establish and foster industry best practices to help minimize environmental impact associated with wild collected marine aquatic life.
- Working with all parties to develop legislation that helps preserve marine habitats and serves our customers’ desire to have these animals as pets.
- A pledge to continue to support these initiatives with the long-term goal of reaching 100% aquacultured in marine aquatic life.
To learn more about what Petco is doing to promote a sustainable trade for coral reef wildlife, click here.
Defenders is pleased to be working with an industry leader on this initiative, which we hope will create positive change throughout the marine aquarium industry and improve the conservation of coral reefs, along with the many fish and other species that depend on them.