Europe’s ongoing challenge in adequately monitoring the century-old trade of colourful marine ornamental fishes derived from endangered coral reefs

20 June 2024: Presenting our new findings at the 7th European Conference of Conservation Biology in Bologna, Italy.

The centuries-old, multi-billion-dollar trade in marine ornamental fishes has never been reliably monitored, making analysis difficult. Estimates range from 15 to 30 million fishes from over 2,000 species traded annually but could be as high as 150 million without accounting for mortality, which can be high depending on the species.

Most traded coral reef fishes are native to Southeast Asia and almost all are wild caught. The consequences of removing millions of these fishes each year are poorly understood. Europe, a major importer, uses TRACES (Trade Control and Expert System) to monitor live animal imports for disease prevention. From 2014 to 2021, over 3 million ornamental fishes entered Europe annually. Unfortunately, one third of specimens lacked species names. The susceptibility to trade was assessed using the number of specimens traded, trends in trade volume, IUCN Red List conservation status and vulnerability according to FishBase. The urgent need to monitor this trade has been highlighted by scholars in the past. With a few enhancements TRACES would provide accurate and timely information on the number and species of marine ornamental fishes in trade, the origin of specimens and whether they are wild-caught or captive-bred.

Find the presentation here: