Thursday, June 7, 2012

Endangered Seahorses Pt. 2

More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly. ~ Woody Allen
More than 25 million dead and live seahorses are traded globally on an annual basis with around 95% of these being used in traditional medicines. Aquarium and souvenir trades make up the rest. (David Harasti 2004) Indonesians and Filipinos also use seahorses in their medicines. In 2004 all 34 species came into protection under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Japan, Indonesia, South Korea and Norway have withdrawn from trade rules for seahorses and they continue to be harvested at unsustainable levels.

Medicinal claims for seahorses include "cures" for asthma, impotence, thyroid disorders, broken bones, heart disease and cancer. There is no scientific evidence to support these claims. The price for one pound of seahorses can be as much as US $550. This is a very lucrative business - until they run out of seahorses which would be a great tragedy and also would further degrade the environments in which they live.

Flag Ship Species
The charisma of seahorses (Hippocampus; family Syngnathidae) can make them potent flagship species for general issues in marine conservation. Seahorses are among the many marine fishes that are subject to a host of human pressures, including overexploitation, incidental capture and habitat degradation. In addition, they are potentially flagships for many of the world’s most critical and threatened habitats where they live: corals, seagrasses, macroalgae, mangroves, estuaries, lagoons and open bottom habitats. Now that marine fishes are increasingly recognised as wildlife as well as economic commodities, there is a need to understand management and conservation concerns ..... seahorses provide an unusual opportunity to engage many stakeholders in marine conservation, from visitors to public aquariums and divers to developing country fishers and traditional Chinese medicine practitioners ..... seahorses can provide a focus and leverage for marine conservation action, including marine protected areas and fisheries management options. (2nd International Marine Conservation Congress)

Scientists and conservationists are working with the seahorse trade to educate and promote sustainable harvesting. At the rate they are being taken out of the ocean now, they will soon be extinct. This is due in large part to capturing juvenile males that haven't had a chance to reproduce in the wild. This is especially true in the Tradional Chinese Medicine and Aquarium (both legal and illegal) trades.

This video explains the issues in a clear and positive way. Enjoy!

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