Natural rarity places clownfish colour morphs at risk of targeted and opportunistic exploitation in a marine aquarium fishery

Militz, Thane A., Foale, Simon, Kinch, Jeff, and Southgate, Paul C. (2018) Natural rarity places clownfish colour morphs at risk of targeted and opportunistic exploitation in a marine aquarium fishery. Aquatic Living Resources, 31. 18.

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As fish stocks become depleted, exploitation eventually fails to be cost-efficient. However, species or morphs of species can suffer from continual exploitation if their rarity results in increased value, justifying the cost-efficiency of targeted or opportunistic exploitation. The trade in coral reef fishes for public and private aquaria is an industry in which naturally rare species and rare morphs of species command high prices. Here we investigate the relationship between price and the natural prevalence of colour morphs of two highly demanded clownfish species using a localised case study. The export prices for colour morphs increased with decreasing prevalence of occurrence (y = 4.60x−0.51, R2 = 0.43), but price increase was inversely less than the observed reduction in prevalence. This renders rare colour morphs (i.e., those at relatively low prevalence) at risk of opportunistic exploitation. Using ecological data, we also demonstrate how this increased value can subject rare colour morphs with aggregated distributions to targeted exploitation. These findings are discussed in relation to the broader marine aquarium trade, identifying taxa potentially at risk from exploitation motivated by rarity and addressing potential management strategies.

Item ID: 54869
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1765-2952
Keywords: Aquarium trade, Amphiprion percula, Premnas biaculeatus, Papua New Guinea, management, consumer demand
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Copyright Information: © EDP Sciences 2018
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A version of this publication was included as Chapter 3 of the following PhD thesis: Militz, Thane A. (2017) A review of the Papua New Guinea marine aquarium fishery. PhD thesis, James Cook University, which is available Open Access in ResearchOnline@JCU. Please see the Related URLs for access.

Funders: Australian Centre for International Agriculture Research (ACIAR), National Fisheries Authority (NFA), Papua New Guinea
Projects and Grants: ACIAR project FIS/2010/054
Date Deposited: 01 Aug 2018 07:35
FoR Codes: 44 HUMAN SOCIETY > 4401 Anthropology > 440101 Anthropology of development @ 60%
45 INDIGENOUS STUDIES > 4515 Pacific Peoples environmental knowledges > 451507 Pacific Peoples marine environment science @ 40%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9599 Other Cultural Understanding > 959999 Cultural Understanding not elsewhere classified @ 60%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960802 Coastal and Estuarine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 40%
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