The end of marine aquariums

reeffirstaid

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A recent post I put up, asked if anyone had experience with Snorkel Bob, and his infamous war on aquariums. I was surprised no one replied. Coral Magazine has been covering this story for some time. Snorkel Bob represents and miscarriage of science, and very skewed information. Sadly, it's been compelling, and he and Sea Shepherd continue to hammer Hawaiian legislators to tighten the reins on aquarium collection. While progress for Snorkel Bob has been slow, some of his argument is compelling, from an ethical perspective. With the weight of conservation giant Sea Shepherd behind him, (he is their VP) I assume something will happen. As an avid aquarist, aquarium writer, and owner of an aquarium related business, I keep close eyes and ears on legislative proceedings regarding aquarium keeping.

I've written several essays to Hawaiian lawmakers, explaining why Snorkel Bob's information is misleading, and providing insight into why marine aquariums can work as a wheel of conservation, not a wheel of destruction. It doesn't seem to matter, famed aquarium writer and curator of the Waikiki Aquarium, Charles Deelbeck, has been leading a campaign in support of the hobby, armed with real science. I confronted Bob Witner on facebook, as he had incorrect information about keeping wrasses in the aquarium. I got a blast of messages from some of his followers, and was honestly surprised how ignorant people are about our hobby.

I wanted to get some thoughts on why this is. I blame shows like Tanked, that portray the aquarium hobby as a millionaire's club of trying to throw together a huge slice of the ocean. These folks have the money to constantly replace livestock. I think from a public perspective, us, the home hobbyists, who are very dedicated to our animals, aren't thought of, at least in this debate.
 

LegitFish

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where is the line drawn on Snorkel Bob's campaign? by aquariums does he include freshwater? and what about the "feeder" goldfish that are used for food for a lot of other animals as well? I think Snorkel Bob has some research to do if he thinks us home hobbyists do not care properly for our animals. I do believe, as you stated, that huge "corporate" shows like Tanked skew outsiders view on the aquarium hobby. A vast majority of the aquariums shows on the tv series are unrealistic, and appear to be unsympathetic to the marine life (cycling aquariums the same day). There are also some benefits to the hobby. A great deal about corals and coral protection can be learned through the years of home reef aquariums, along with fish keeping.
 

rayn

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https://www.reef2reef.com/forums/reef-aquarium-discussion/158727-cant-good-reefs.html

Where is snorkel Bob on this? By couldn't he make this stop? Uninformed people trying to make decisions for others is always bad. People that reply negatively to someone that MAINTAINS a tank is also uniformed. Almost all my fish are into the two and three year mark. Long? No. But I plan to keep them alive and thriving for years to come. I don't need some uninformed person deciding what I can or can't have for a hobby.
 

FlyinBryan

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Where do i send the money? I would highly recommend hitting up every single sw supplier stat and have them contribute!
If this is done right with a massive community and, i hate to say it, the right political consultants, we can win. Im assuming this has not already been done, if it has, then see my original question! :) good luck!
 

Kworker

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I have read several stories about snorkel bob and his campaign and dismissed him. As well as the sea shepherds campaign against spear-fishing. They are taking everything a little too far, and there are bigger fish to fry (pun intended).

These seem to be their images against spearfishing: A message to Sea Shepherd?s campaign against spearfishing | Our journey to the sea


But when looked at realistically. Spearfishing is the most environmentally safe way to fish. Commercial fishing DESTROYS the ocean in various ways. Whereas spearfishing requires an individual to actually immerse themselves into the environment. That alone makes any of their other views invalid in my opinion that they are dumb enough to be against that. Where are they with the people off the coast of where I live? I have seen a vast difference in the population of fish where I live growing up fishing these waters..

But getting back on track.. I understand where he is coming from in an ethical standpoint and this hobby somewhat troubles me as well. How often do we know of people doing things very incorrectly in this hobby? Don't forget those are the ones we actually hear about. I do believe something needs to be done and I have viewed my opinion on this subject a few times over the past year and half or so I have been a member here. As somebody that loves this hobby, I am willing to go the extra steps to get "certified" or "licensed" to be able to keep fish. To me its a non-issue knowing that the life in this hobby is in some way protected from ignorance.

Although I have been in the fish keeping hobby for most of my life, a reefing only for the latter part of it. In that time I have definitely noticed vast changes occurring in this hobby and definitely feel big things coming. The possibility is there for aquaculture and tank bred fish to completely consume the market on the salt side of fish keeping. Freshwater already has a very large amount of fish bred specifically for aquarium reasons with few exceptions like loaches, which species like clown loaches should very well be left where they come from. Being part of the freshwater hobby for quite some time, there are far far far faaar more people unaware about the care requirements for clown loaches. (I know I am going on a tangent)

But with combination of this, and reading an article today about how proteins in coral can prevent HIV the future of this hobby has been running (or rather that swimming) in my head all day.. Coral reefs yield new proteins to tackle HIV - Medical News Today

I want to close with saying though, my belief is the only way we can help the planet from the damage we do to it is if we just remove ourselves from the equation entirely.


For I am no scientist, but an accountant..
 

fish.freak

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As a marine biologist, conservationist, and aquarist i do have mixed feelings about the hobby.
What we forget here is not all aquarists are created equal and are as dedicated as reef addicts like us.
Also i support stronger laws on collection which will only increace the value of aquacultured livestock while protecting the natural reefs.
With that being said i also agree that there is much to be learned from tanks and they have an important educational role as well, but not everyone should have one.
Just my. 02
 

Longnose Hawkfish

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Snorkel bob is the guy who rents a bunch of snorkel stuff in Hawaii right? And if he is, I think he is just trying to gain popularity for his business.
 

BryanD

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I'm gonna play a little Devil's advocate here. I used to belong to a couple of Reef/Saltwater forums on facebook, but I had to leave both of them. The ignorance shown on those forums was mind boggling, and I don't mean beginners who made honest mistakes. I'm talking people who asked for advice, then were given some of the most far out, off the wall, totally wrong advice you could imagine! Then when people like me, who have been in the hobby for over 35 years or more spoke up all we got was lambasted by the "But I got it to work" crowd, forget that based on the fact that 90% of the advice by experienced aquarist said it wasn't possible, or the animal would live for a short amount of time then die. I even saw a post by one person who said their biggest mistake was topping off their tank with saltwater, then commenting on the hundreds of dollars of livestock they lost before they figured it out! Come on, thats 5th grade science class. So as long as that stuff goes on, people like Snorkel Bob will have plenty of fuel for the fire. When I started in the hobby, I spent hours at the public and college library researching what I wanted to do, and that was for freshwater. With the internet, NO ONE has an excuse not to be easily informed. Sorry, I don't have a solution, there has been mention of requiring a license and as distasteful as that seems, a lot of people need it. :squigglemouth:
 

ETORRES477

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As somebody that loves this hobby, I am willing to go the extra steps to get "certified" or "licensed" to be able to keep fish. To me its a non-issue knowing that the life in this hobby is in some way protected from ignorance.

I agree with a lot of what you said, with the exception of the above referenced statement. I agree that we should be responsible owners, that is a given. But, I do not think we should have laws requiring licensure to own live stock. There are a lot of people out there who have no business owning fish for many reasons. However, there are also a lot of people out there who should not have birds, cats, dogs, reptiles or children for that matter. We do not require licensure for any of the aforementioned so why should it be so with fish and corals? I would tend to agree with fish.freak and instead focus our legal oversight to matters that protect natural reef environments and collection methods.
 
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reeffirstaid

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Snorkel Bob isn't ignorant, at least not on natural coral reefs. Hawaii set up "no take" areas, where aquarium collector can no longer harvest specimens. I've seen fish rodeos first hand, and they aren't pleasant. Snorkel Bob doesn't say a whole lot about the real pressures to the ocean environment. Considering he owns snorkel shops across Hawaii, I wonder if he stands against the massive building and expansion that has taken place there, much of it aimed at tourist income. The runoff from construction, irrigation, and waste disposal has been detrimental to Hawaii's reefs, decimation those around the big island. To really get a picture of Hawaii's reefs how they were, you have to travel hundreds of miles to the island of Kure, which is a protected marine sanctuary.

Where he is missing the mark, is in the belief that all aquarists care nothing about coral reef ecosystems and simply continue a cycle of replacing dying fish. Again, shows like Tanked, places like PETCO (or any other poorly maintained aquarium outlet) and the quick buck salesman don't help, and all those things do exist. I have been an aquarium writer for 11 years, and worked with both reef aquarists and public aquarium curators. These people are dedicated to coral reef health, and keeping captive reefs has offered insight on what needs done to protect them during climate change. Marine fish propagation has progressed, largely due to the hobby.

Snorkel Bob has gotten some legislators to really take this issue seriously, and my fear, is if they see the chance to make extra bucks, requiring certification or courses or licences to own marine aquariums, that dollar figure will be the deciding factor.
 

shred5

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You want to get snorkel bob off of this go after his lively hood.. Look at the damage snorkelers and diver do to the reefs.. There is a place in Key largo where they bring so many divers and snorkelers the reef is almost 100 percent dead.

Show pictures of snorkelers standing on reefs.

Snorkel Bob is not the real threat..

Ist the new laws they are trying to pass that are worse where corals are going to be on the endangered species act. Which makes it illegal to import, own, trade or even propagate...
 
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reeffirstaid

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shred,

From what I understand, the work of Snorkel Bob has contributed to placing corals under the endangered species act, thus making it illegal to own them. I can understand placing corals, from certain locations where reefs are quickly dying, under the endangered species act, but to throw blanket legislation over an entire species of very diverse animals, and essentially shut down a large part of our hobby, is acting out of emotion and not looking at real facts. Legislators, and Snorkel Bob's forget, that some of the animals we keep never saw a day in the ocean, and are entirely captive propagated.

You are 100% right about snorkelers. I've been to Key Largo many times and witnessed first-hand, inexperienced snorkelers tearing up molasses reef, stomping on SPS colonies with their fin clad feet. I've also watched divers, in a multitude of locations smash into corals and break them into pieces. If you really want to protect reefs, governments would have to be make it 100% illegal for mankind to have any relationship with the sea, (fishing, boating, diving, aquarium collection, waste dumping, etc).

I don't think, from a governments perspective, they really care about the future of coral reefs. They are trying to see if there is an avenue, to make the 700,000 active reef aquarists in the U.S., pay a fee to keep marine aquariums. Like many government introduced acts, I am sure they will wrap it up to look like a conservationists dream, but in the end, it will simply be a way to line pockets.

I also don't think snorkel bob cares as deeply about reefs, as he appears too. Snorkel Bob doesn't like the fact that aquarium collectors can use some of his turf (from a dollar generating standpoint) to possibly make a few bucks, at the expensive of a snorkel tour.
 
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JFrar

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interesting, i knew of threats against coral owning and harvesting from nature but not to this degree.... Funny thing is when you have been doing coral in your tanks for so long you start taking coral out and selling back to LFS /friends because it gets too big. Very sad thought but eventually there will problay be more coral on land(in our tanks) than in the water...but that is definately not from the people harvesting the corals at one point... its from all the other insensible stuff being done in our oceans.
 

shred5

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shred,

From what I understand, the work of Snorkel Bob has contributed to placing corals under the endangered species act, thus making it illegal to own them. I can understand placing corals, from certain locations where reefs are quickly dying, under the endangered species act, but to throw blanket legislation over an entire species of very diverse animals, and essentially shut down a large part of our hobby, is acting out of emotion and not looking at real facts. Legislators, and Snorkel Bob's forget, that some of the animals we keep never saw a day in the ocean, and are entirely captive propagated.

You are 100% right about snorkelers. I've been to Key Largo many times and witnessed first-hand, inexperienced snorkelers tearing up molasses reef, stomping on SPS colonies with their fin clad feet. I've also watched divers, in a multitude of locations smash into corals and break them into pieces. If you really want to protect reefs, governments would have to be make it 100% illegal for mankind to have any relationship with the sea, (fishing, boating, diving, aquarium collection, waste dumping, etc).

I don't think, from a governments perspective, they really care about the future of coral reefs. They are trying to see if there is an avenue, to make the 700,000 active reef aquarists in the U.S., pay a fee to keep marine aquariums. Like many government introduced acts, I am sure they will wrap it up to look like a conservationists dream, but in the end, it will simply be a way to line pockets.

I also don't think snorkel bob cares as deeply about reefs, as he appears too. Snorkel Bob doesn't like the fact that aquarium collectors can use some of his turf (from a dollar generating standpoint) to possibly make a few bucks, at the expensive of a snorkel tour.
First off it was kind of a joke, I am a avid diver and snorkeler.. But in a way it is true and make him a hypocrite.

Actually snorkel BOB tried and failed and was trying to get the collection in Hawaii stopped.
What I am talking about is this Corals Proposed for Listing as Threatened or Endangered under the ESA - Office of Protected Resources - NOAA Fisheries
That is not voted on by congress and if this passes it is far worse than getting banned from a area like Hawaii.. You can always collect in a different area even though banning in Hawaii would cause a massive increase in prices. . I have been in this hobby since they banned collecting of live rock in Florida, We thought that was the end of the hobby and it wasn't... This other thing could end it because if it passes congress has to comply with it... this is the new way to attack the hobby, instead of getting it banned from collecting in certain areas get it banned so we cant import corals.
The above act has been postponed I believe for a while though..
Now I am not against banning corals that are endangered or even regualting the amount.. But the above act makes even the ones you own already illegal or the propigation of them. What do the ones in the hobby already have anything to do with it.. Why should we destroy them... You can apply for a licence now but once it goes into affect it is too late.

Now if Snorkel Bob latched on with this I dont know..
 
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cdness

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Regarding the "License" or "Fee" to own a reef tank, this is both good and bad. Good for the fact that maybe the money can go to research into captive breeding and reduce the hobby impact on the reef. Bad for the fact that I understand out government and know dang well it won't go to anything productive. It will probably go to support of some wealthy oil person with a staghorn up their rear end.

Snorkel Bob is a greedy and manipulative person. Sea Shepard is nothing short of a terrorist organization that uses violence to achieve a goal. I have no idea why anyone in their right mind would support either of these organizations or even consider them "experts" on anything. If I ever make it to Hawaii, you can bet top dollar I will be giving Mr Snorkel Bob a piece of my mind.

Unfortunately the activists know how to use EMOTION to convey their ideas and get support for their cause. They can blatantly ignore all FACT in the situation and gain people's support by showing a picture of a crying fish or coral colony. The uneducated voter is the one we all need to worry about as they fall prey to the emotional stories much faster and never bother to check the facts.

If you want to help, there is little a single person can do. However there is a support fund through PIJAC that you can contribute to and help support their fight to end this legislation once and for all. They are for protection of the reefs, but they need to do the protecting the right way based on scientifically proven FACT. Please consider helping out in any way you can: Marine Ornamental Defense Fund | PIJAC

Regarding the Facebook groups mentioned... I have voluntarily removed myself from the majority of them for that same reason. I am sick and tired of the people who are unwilling to learn anything and expect people to continue to spoon feed them the answers over and over again. I got into many HEATED arguments with people on things I would consider common knowledge. However I got a ton of people against me because it seems like they were all making the same mistake. It is like they are lemmings jumping off a cliff to their doom solely because someone else thought it was such a great idea. I will say, not all people on the groups are bad. However the ration seems to be 1 knowledgeable person to 1,000 idiots or naive advice followers looking for the "easy button".
 

that Reef Guy

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I read about a study that claimed that in 20 Years (2034) there would be no Coral in the Ocean at all due to the Warming of the Ocean.

If that is true then they should encourage hobbyists to get more coral because in 20 years we might own all the coral in the world.
 

cdness

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Now I am not against banning corals that are endangered or even regualting the amount.. But the above act makes even the ones you own already illegal or the propigation of them. What do the ones in the hobby already have anything to do with it.. Why should we destroy them... You can apply for a licence now but once it goes into affect it is too late.
Totally agree with you here... Regulation is fine and has been proven successful. However making them illegal to own or propagate is a dumb idea.

I will not apply for a license. It is just like the gun registrations. Tell us what you have so when we change the laws we can come knocking on your door. Same issue will be with possession of endangered species if the law is passed. I will have no part in it.

However if the Endangered Species list goes through as written, many businesses will be ruined. However the stock prices for manufacturers of driveway ice melt and baking soda will go up...
 

cdness

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I read about a study that claimed that in 20 Years (2034) there would be no Coral in the Ocean at all due to the Warming of the Ocean.

If that is true then they should encourage hobbyists to get more coral because in 20 years we might own all the coral in the world.
I also read that with the warming of the ocean they are noticing corals are growing deeper than once thought. They are migrating to deeper depths to counteract the warming of the ocean so they get to where they need to be. Top layers will die off but it will continue to grow deeper. However I am staying out of the "Global Warming" fight.
 
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