VANCOUVER, Wash., June 28 (UPI) — The United States must lead the way in regulating trade to protect coral reefs and tropical fish from a growing collectors market, a study says.
Trade in coral and coral reef fish is growing, taking 30 million fish and 1.5 million live coral specimens from the world’s oceans every year, Washington State University researchers said in a release Monday.
The aquarium industry alone targets about 1,500 species of reef fishes, and some species have gone “virtually extinct,” a university study says.
“Our actions have a big impact on what happens in these coral reef ecosystems, which are already hit hard by other forces like global warming, ocean acidification and overfishing,” said study author Brian Tissot, a professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences at WSU Vancouver.
The study recommends laws to protect a wider variety of species, better enforcement, and reforms in source countries.
With U.S. buyers accounting for more than half the trade in live coral, reef fish and invertebrates, the study says, the United States “should assume its role as an international leader in coral reef conservation and take steps to reform the international trade it drives.”
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