2010 Indo-Pacific Bleaching Events Don’t Bode Well for Aquarium Fisheries

This entry was posted on Thursday, August 12th, 2010 and is filed under BR Blog.

by Tom Lang

Whatever your opinion on the causes of global warming, rising sea surface temperatures are causing well-documented bleaching events once again this year over a wide swath of Indo-Pacific coral reefs – many of which provide the homes for the fishes we commonly see in the aquarium industry.

While the long-term impacts on the abundance of non-scleractinian reef life is uncertain, if these “nurseries of the sea” are inundated with algal growth or are slow to recover in terms of protective coral cover for juvenile fishes, such a widespead change in the marine environment will almost certainly impact fish population dynamics in the short-term and possibly future fisheries diversity for many years, if not forever.

How this latest round of massive coral bleaching will impact the marine aquarium fish industry has yet to be seen, but the global perception that the reefs are imperiled is strengthened when news and NGO reports and even YouTube postings such as the one above are everywhere. These are what often catch the eye of lawmakers and regulators who then react by drafting new rules and proposing limits on coral reef animal imports and exports. Once such new rules are enacted, they are very rarely repealed, even if the environments they are designed to protect rebound.

So it is very possible that the Bleaching of 2010 may have an irreversible long-term impact on the marine aquarium fish industry, extending even beyond the years the reefs may require to eventually recover.

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