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by Rob Huntley(Just an editorial note. Since this article first appeared in Aquatic Survival ACN has since registered it's own Domain name, www.acn.ca. Therefore while the text of this article may say one thing, the underlying link may be something else. - ds)
The ACN has been active in so-called cyberspace for 3 or 4 years. This started with my personal account with a local amateur BBS (Bulletin Board System) named Pinetree and for about a year email@example.com ventured into cyberspace to learn of, and to become acquainted with, as many "fishy" conservation contacts as possible. Pinetree owner Gordon Dewis was made known to me through a mutual friend, but Gordon and I have actually never met, except electronically. At the time I signed up, his was one of the few amateur operations in Ottawa which gave free access to email, and I felt quite fortunate to find this doorway. I have long been indebted to Gordon for the technical assistance he has provided to the electronic communications side of the ACN, and he continues to contribute as you will read later. For a new and small organization like the ACN, Pinetree was a low cost avenue into a medium well worth exploring. Besides email, electronic newsgroups such as alt.aquaria, rec.aquaria and sci.aquaria, were accessible to me and these were ideal areas for developing both amateur and professional contacts.
At some point during the first year of my electronic apprenticeship I decided to sign on with CompuServe to explore the much touted FISHNET. I introduced myself to FISHNET manager John Benn and other FISHNET "staffers" and before long Aquatic Survival was being archived in the FISHNET Library. The ACN was offered one "free flag" to make no-surcharge visits to the fish related discussion areas. This flag has greatly assisted my use of CompuServe on behalf of the ACN. Before long I was participating in FISHNET conferencing, including one of their annual weekend events where I was invited to "speak". For a period of time the ACN had both a private and a public message area in the Aquatic Data Center of FISHNET. The Aquatic Data Center was an area lesser travelled than the popular Aquaria/Fish Forum, but an opportunity nevertheless.
During reorganization of the FISHNET structure some two years ago, the Aquatic Data Center was revamped into the current Pet Products Forum, and the ACN was offered a promotion to the Aquaria/Fish Forum. At that time, it was acknowledged that only a few ACN members were making use of our private area, so preference was given to establishing a general Aquatic Conservation message area, rather than a special ACN area, in the Aquaria/Fish Forum. The new location and the expanded name (in place of the ACN acronym) probably gives more exposure to the conservation cause by attracting average aquarists who browse the forum sections for subjects that interest them. Those with a conservation streak are hopefully attracted to visit.
I have to admit to having personally scaled down my involvement in FISHNET in the past year mainly due to workload factors. ACN's involvement in the Aquatic Conservation message area has devolved and it is now solely a FISHNET undertaking. But it is good to know that the space is there for conservation concerns to be raised and discussed by those who care. I occasionally look in to see what is happening. The information and discussions taking place there merit future participation by ACN members. John Benn and his staff do an excellent job of bringing conservation news and issues into the forum.
It was through FISHNET that I made valuable acquaintances with people such as Rod Harper, Jay Hemdal, Tim Hovanec, John Kuhns, Frank Greco and Ferdinand Velasco. There are quite a few other ACN members on CompuServe as well but these few names I mention in the context of their helpfulness to the ACN in my early days using CompuServe.
I have continued archiving backissues of Aquatic Survival in the FISHNET library, but now that all CompuServe users have access to World Wide Web, maintaining the archive is in some sense redundant. We now are taking strides to improve our visibility on the Web (see later), so archiving Aquatic Survival in the FISHNET library may be discontinued.
There are parallel/similar services to CompuServe which possibly deserve some mention, particularly inasmuch as several ACN members have assisted by seeding appropriate areas of America OnLine and Prodigy with ACN documentation. Particular thanks go to Frank Greco and Rod Harper for this. However, I have no personal experience with these or other services so without meaning to ignore or promote one service over other, I'll back out of any further discussion.
Shortly after the ACN ventured into CompuServe, FreeNets started springing up across the Internet. Ottawa's National Capital FreeNet (NCF) has been one of the leaders in this area, and with it being "free", the ACN jumped in with both feet. I have maintained an ACN menu structure there for several years. This menu leads to some basic documentation about the ACN, back issues of Aquatic Survival with menu access on an article-by-article basis, and several other information files. Dean Staff (firstname.lastname@example.org), who also manages the ACN membership database, has recently taken over the role of Information Manager at our National Capital Freenet site and he has been coordinating placement of newer issues both at NCF and at our World Wide Web location (see later discussion under ACN Web Pages).
Initially the NCF's service was limited to Ottawa residents, to people dialing to Ottawa long distance, and to people having access through their own system using a cyber feature known as TelNet. People anywhere in the world with an email account having access to TelNet could, and still can, get to our FreeNet archives (TelNet to freenet.carleton.ca; Login as: Guest; and type: go acn). An ACN Discussion Group area also exists on National Capital FreeNet, but quite frankly the area has not been well used, probably due to lack of exposure, lack of availability and/or the general inconvenience to most people of using TelNet.
Fortunately, our FreeNet archives became even more accessible with the advent of World Wide Web. This was because the administrators at National Capital Freenet had the foresight to implement an automatic conversion program which made virtually all areas of the FreeNet (except the Discussion Groups) accessible to World Wide Web users - and we at ACN didn't have to punch a single key. It then became opportune to advertise our NCF Web site over the electronic airwaves.
From the FreeNet base, I started watching other newsgroups such as sci.environment and sci.bio.conservation. I also started to take advantage of one feature of the cyberworld that many people partake in at some point in their electronic lives: the electronic mailing list.
In a nutshell, this is how the electronic mailing list (or discussion list as I often tend to call it) operates. When you have discovered a mailing list in a subject area in which you may be interested, you "subscribe", along with tens, hundreds or sometimes thousands of other like-minded people. When you have something to say to these like-minded persons, you mail your intellectual gem to the "list" address and it is automatically redistributed to all the subscribers. The list serves as a forum for announcements and information transfer and debate. For some, it gives the opportunity to say publicly what they might never dare to say from the floor microphone at a fisheries symposium or aquarium society convention. On the positive side, views are drawn out that might not otherwise be heard. On the downside, this can sometimes get quite nasty, and "flaming" has become the buzzword for public one-on-one insult matches and even gang warfare on the "net".
There are a number of fish related lists, a few of which include Aqua-L (aquaculture); Fish-Ecology; Fisheries; FishFolk (a sociology list); NIA-NET (Neotropical Ichthyological Association) and hobby and quasi scientific lists such as AQUARIUM; BETTAS; Killies; Cichlid-L; and Discus-L, just to name a few. There is also a CITES list (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species); there's MAR-FACIL for managing marine facilities; Zoo-Net for zoos and public aquariums, and OCEAN-NET pertaining to oceans sector technology and development. More specialized lists exist as well for specific fields within aquatic sciences. For about 18 months I monitored about a dozen such lists from my FreeNet account and learned much, obtained information sources and articles for Aquatic Survival and indirectly (and sometimes intentionally) attracted attention to the ACN.
As a consequence of attempting to follow so much information flow, I was barraged at each login with volumes of electronic mail. It began to take hours out of every week to sift through this material for conservation related topics that might be of interest to ACN members. Considering that I was also trying to cope with the burgeoning amount of information coming available on World Wide Web, I began to think that help was needed.
After a false start about one year ago, I am happy to announce that this past fall an informal working group became established which goes under the name ACN-EGroup. A number of cyber-hyped ACN people fell together to try to address the future of the ACN's presence on the Internet. After a few comings and goings, the present composition of the group is as follows:
Communications for the group operate through the mailing list principle described above. The group uses a "closed" list and access is enabled only to those ACN members who are interested in discussing and promoting where our travels in the electronic domain. The list was first initiated by Joshua Levy with his employer's listserver, but Joshua's job shuffle last summer unplugged us for awhile. Now, my Pinetree friend, Gordon Dewis, has enabled mailing list operations from Pinetree and we are up and running in several new directions. Pinetree continues, in my view, to provide services surpassing the average amateur BBS and through this service the ACN is taking a few "next steps" into cyberspace. Pinetree's recently acquired majordomo mailing list software is not exactly new technology when speaking in cybertime, but again, the service is being provided from the home-based pinetree.org which is a commendable undertaking. This service is being offered to the ACN free of charge (at least until we cause the pinetree.org computer to start trembling and smoking, at which time, or perhaps sooner, me may want to offer financial aid).
Others ACN cyber types are welcome to join in the discussion, planning and volunteering. Just give Peter Unmack a shout at email@example.com and he'll give instructions - but if you are interested in discussing fish and conservation ..... forget it! The ACN-EGroup discussion list is for cyber keeners who wish to volunteer their online computer skills to aid the cause. Disappointed??? ... No need to be. If you want to discuss aquatic conservation, then move down to my later discussion of "ACN-L".Here are the main things that ACN-EGroup@pinetree.org has been up to:
The group is working to develop an enhanced system of World Wide Web (WWW) pages to improve our exposure in that medium. The format is, for now anyway, being kept relatively simple. Joshua Levy has developed a format for page headers and footers. The intent is to design pages that have useful information and are easily read, well linked to other relevant pages, and fast loading. A compromise is to be sought between use of graphics and speed of loading. The aim is to be an information source - functional but attractive enough to invite browsing. The pages are changing frequently at present as we work to upgrade them. The Web crew is presently comprised of Rod Harper, Joshua Levy, Dean Staff and myself with critical review of each step by other ACN-EGroup participants.The address (URL) of the new site is: http://www.acn.ca/acnhome.html
At the time of writing there is a Welcome Page (or Home Page as some people call it) with overview information about the ACN and links to membership registration forms and publication order forms.
There is a menu page for the electronic version of Aquatic Survival. Volumes 1 to 3 were already archived in National Capital Freenet and links from the new pages to the old have been put in place. Dean Staff developed the new WWW menu page for the bulletin and has done up one issue in a new WWW format which will be repeated for subsequent issues which are not yet online. Regrettably, cash flow requirements dictate that we delay the online availability of each issue of Aquatic Survival in order to sustain membership subscriptions to the hard copy version. So we will continue with a 3 to 6 month lag time policy for putting issues online. Thought is being given to installing a "Current Events" page on WWW so that at least the more time sensitive information from Aquatic Survival is made available sooner.
Joshua Levy is working on a Web page with "links" to other conservation and fishy sites of interest around the globe, and the EGroup team is assisting him in compiling relevant WWW addresses. If you have any good suggestions don't hesitate to send the URL (i.e. address) to Joshua (firstname.lastname@example.org). Rather than list interesting sites in this article, I would recommend that Web users visit our soon-to-be ACN "links" page and simply "click" onto them. Information on newsgroups and mailing lists, some of which were mentioned earlier, will eventually be available on a Web page as well.
Rod Harper, as ACN's Affiliate Club Liaison, is planning to provide a page on the Affiliate Club Program in the near future. Also, I am hoping to see one of us launch pages on ACN Madagascar initiatives and captive breeding projects in the not too distant future.
One more page is online: one that describes another EGroup initiative, namely "ACN-L", which warrants further discussion here.
With the preponderance of fish related electronic mailing lists that I described above, one might say that one needs a new "list" like discus need "hole-in-the-head" disease. None of these lists, however, appear to satisfy the specific needs of our organization. It seems appropriate to have a mechanism by which we can disseminate information rapidly to online ACN members, and anyone else who cares to listen in. There is also merit in being able to discuss conservation issues and programs without unrelated (but useful to others) technical aspects provided by some of the other discussion lists, and the volumes of general hobby information (often excellent but not conservation related) provided by others. Time saving benefits are also perceived in that those with interests specific to conservation can hopefully derive what they need from a conservation oriented list and eliminate or reduce time spent scouring all the other fish related mailing lists for titbits of conservation information. Another bonus which I perceive from an editorial standpoint is that important information arising from anything posted on the mailing list could be extracted (with permission where necessary from the source) or followed up on for further information with a view to publication in Aquatic Survival. New networking contacts will be made and channels of communication opened.
I also believe that the profile of the organization could be further raised by administering such a discussion list. WE could even receive free "word of keyboard" advertising if we are successful in having the list become widely recognized as a forum for interdisciplinary discussion of aquatic biodiversity and conservation.
This all sounds a bit like wishful thinking, but at the time of writing, ACN-L is about 2 weeks old and it has already surpassed 200 electronic subscribers coming from all parts of the planet (and most of whom are not even registered ACN members). There is a lot of listening and not much talking, attributable to the newness of the list and lack of familiarity with who's who among the subscribers. In time some people could decide this is not for them and leave. But I believe we have a strong early indication that there is a need for such a discussion list.
ACN member or not, you are invited to join. If you have an email account, then you should be able to follow the directions to add yourself. To subscribe to ACN-L, send an email message to:email@example.com
In the first line of the message enter:subscribe ACN-L
That's all there is to subscribing.
To post messages to the list, direct them to: ACN-L@acn.ca
(You cannot post messages if you are not a subscriber.)
Thanks go to Peter Unmack (firstname.lastname@example.org) for taking on the responsibilities of list manager for both ACN-L and the ACN-EGroup lists. Now you know who to bother if you have problems getting subscribed. Don't be embarrassed if you need help, but please give Peter a break and try to do it yourself first. The system is automated, so make it your small volunteer contribution to the ACN to subscribe yourself instead of asking to be signed on. Your first indication of success will be a message that gives you more information about the discussion list, including some instructions on how to send other helpful commands and requests to the majordomo (the proverbial "black-box" that runs the system). Among other things you will learn you how to turn the switch off, just as simply as you turned the switch on. So you are free to come and go at will.
As an aside to this, we are also experimenting with another "closed" list for Board of Director use as there is potential to speed up discussions at this level too. However, since not all Directors are email users we are tinkering with how to make best use of this option.
Chatting is the terminology coined for people on internet being at the same place at the same time and participating in an electronic conferencing session. These sessions can often degenerate into "chatting" but if moderated properly can give a low cost means for productive discussion among people who would otherwise not be able to meet.
Obviously this approach has prospects for the ACN considering that our members are located all over the planet.
There are a number of options available for implementing "real time" aquatic conservation discussions. CompuServe enables conferencing in real time, but relatively few email equipped ACN members have CompuServe accounts. There are means for using TelNet to access a "room", and an offer to develop such a room has been put forward by Juan Miguel Artigas Azas (email@example.com). The ACN-EGroup has also been considering Internet Relay Chat (IRC) as yet another option. We have even gone as far as to have a trial IRC meeting with 5 members of the ACN-EGroup just to see how it works, since most of us are on a learning curve here. As with CompuServe, both TelNet and IRC are features that are not necessarily available to all email users. This is an area where we are still investigating.
Since many ACN members are not into the electronic communications domain, they possibly may have not bothered to read this far and making this point may be wasting paper. Nevertheless, it is worth emphasizing that the Internet is just one medium in which we endeavour to advance our networking and the aquatic conservation cause. Hopefully, anything of relevance from the electronic world will come out in the paper world of Aquatic Survival, and anything of relevance that we work on in the paper world will also be disseminated in paperless fashion.
Options exist for tying the paper world and the paperless world together. Not everyone has to buy a computer and modem and force themselves to overcome the hurdles of getting up to speed. For example, computer-challenged members could take advantage of the swiftness of computer networking if information requests or announcements were systematically channelled through one or two cyber active members, placed in appropriate places on the "net", and the results of the posting harvested and sent back to the originator (Thanks to Mark Rosenqvist for this suggestion). Please don't send me any postings - this isn't implemented yet - it is just an idea. It does illustrate, though, that potentially everyone can benefit from computer networking if we start to think that way and organize ourselves.
Well, I haven't enlightened you much in this piece about the issues and progress regarding aquatic conservation. Nevertheless, it is important to talk about the ways in which we facilitate what we are trying to do. I hope that this article has demonstrated the eagerness of the ACN to take advantage of leading edge technology to further our work.Rob Huntley is the General Manager of the Aquatic Conservation Network and can be contacted at 540 Roosevelt Avenue, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K2A 1Z8. Tel: (613) 729-4670; Fax: (613) 729-5613; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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One of the common problems for any voluntary effort is finding people to fill all of the positions needed for a smooth running organization. In fact, it is likely there has never been a chairman or president of a voluntary organization who has not used some space in the groups' publication for editorial comment on this problem. This President is no exception.
It is often difficult to convince people to take on difficult tasks when the only reward being offered for long hours of work is the satisfaction of a job well done. No doubt, many people would prefer cash rather than inner satisfaction. I suppose the reason for this resides in our genetic heritage and since our nature defines and determines our common responses as a species, this is not likely to change. It will never be easy. At the same time, it is important to point out that no ACN Board member has been paid for his efforts or reimbursed for expenses incurred during the last two years. The issue has not come up and nobody has complained. This is a good sign that some people are willing to step forward and make these sacrifices. Rob Huntley, of course, remains a model for consistent dedication to the work of the ACN. He is editor of Aquatic Survival, manages the financial affairs of the organization, answers all the mail and tries to keep peace among those who disagree on the direction of the ACN. Rob spends 20 hours per week on ACN business and does so without compensation. Without him the Aquatic Conservation Network would not have achieved what it has today.
An old college professor once said that the way to measure individuals is to pay attention to how they spend their time and how they spend their money, all else signifies nothing. The point deserves some thought. Of course, the ACN needs both your work and your monetary donation to keep us moving toward the achievement of our common goals.
Two members of the Board of Directors, Mark Rosenqvist and J.R. Shute, have resigned in recent months. Our sincere thanks goes to these two fine people for the service they have been able to give. Since the resignations came close to election time, it was decided that the two people who ran for the Board but were not elected be appointed to the two vacant positions. In effect, everyone on the ballot will be on the Board in 1996. Congratulations!
This will be my last President's Message as my term expires at the end of 1995. Being the first ACN President and dealing with the promise and problems of the organization has been a great challenge. It is time to turn the leadership over to others. I wish them well.
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I am currently the Public Relations Officer for 'The Association of Aquarists (A of A)', a national organisation dedicated to the conservation, care of aquarium fish and the education of both the hobbyist and the general public. I also hold positions within other more local aquatic bodies.
The A of A is trying to set up a joint breeding/education programme with Chester Zoo who have done so much with numerous species of fish from Lake Victoria. We as an amateur body (as opposed to professional) would like to help expand the excellent work already carried out by Chester Zoo and would enjoy any help your organisation may be able to give us whether through your publications or experience.
There has been some dialogue between the A of A and both Justin Bell and Mike Crumpler who look after the aquarium (with great enthusiasm and dedication) at Chester Zoo. We all feel that what we can achieve in our lifetime will be minimal with reference to the global situation but it is a start that others will be able to carry on.
Come December, I will no longer be PRO for the A of A, but I will be working on their behalf to fully support this project.Yours sincerely
I have just returned from a quick trip back to Uganda, where, among other things, we are engaged in a detailed study of the fauna of the Kyoga satellite lakes as part of the Lake Victoria Region biotic surveys. One of these small lakes is Lake Nawampasa.
Lake Nawampasa is very small (less than 1 km across), and is just barely separated from Lake Kyoga (which is highly degraded) by a narrow strip of slowly disappearing swamp. The lake harbors what is apparently a remnant of the Kyoga fauna, with at least 23 haplochromine species ranging from paedophages, to piscivores, algae scrapers, insectivores, and some that do not fit previously known trophic groups. Contrary to prevailing wisdom, the Lake Kyoga fauna was not the same as that of Lake Victoria. We will have time to clarify all of this over the next couple of years as we publish our results. It is all very exciting. Right now, an urgent issue has come up regarding the conservation status of the Nawampasa fauna.
My colleagues from FIRI (Fisheries Research Institute of Uganda) have alerted me that there has been a change in collectors working Lake Nawampasa, which is the source of the many brilliantly colored so-called "Lake Victoria" haps now flooding the European, and to a lesser extent, the American aquarium hobby marketplace. One example is sold under the trade name "zebra obliquidens", which appears in fact to be Astatotilapia latifasciata (there is a tendency to call all generalized haplochromines from Lake Kyoga by this name...this may be the appropriate bearer of that designation). Originally, Julian and Mandy Whitehead of the British NGO ACCORD were selling captive-bred stock of this and many other Nawampasa fishes to European traders. The Whiteheads are highly accomplished, environmentally ethical collectors and aquarists. Recently ACCORD terminated their contracts and the Whitehead operation in Kampala. Other collectors have appeared at Nawampasa, and now appear to be overharvesting the indigenous species and disrupting the habitat.
Dr. Richard Ogutu-Ohwayo (FIRI-Jinja) and I met with Dr. Orach-Meza, the Commissioner of Fisheries in Uganda, last week, to discuss this issue. We agreed that we do not want to jeopardize what was shaping up to be a healthy and pro-conservation cottage industry in native tropical fishes in Uganda, simply because the inevitable ne'er-do-wells have finally made the scene. Therefore, we do not advocate a boycott of these fishes. However, I call upon the others to provide any information they may have, or be able to obtain, concerning the identity of those currently engaged in commercial collection of aquarium fishes from Uganda, the stock they are offering, and to whom they are selling. With this information, we can try the gentle approach first, and try to get these guys to step in line. Uganda is proud of its aquatic wildlife, all the more so now that we are beginning to become familiar with it, and appreciates the potential value of aquarium fishes as a renewable resource.
Also, I would like to request the possibility of using any good color transparencies of Nawampasa fishes that ACN members, ACA members or others may have. Some trade names:
There may be quite a few others out there. The photos are needed for the species descriptions and what may be a first paper on the fauna.
Thank you in advance to anyone who can help!Les Kaufman
(Reprinted from an Internet posting with permission of Dr. Kaufman)
Congratulations on the progress with the Aquatic Conservation Network, and the fact that Aquatic Survival provides an excellent forum for discussion of pertinent conservation issues. I read with great interest the letter from Keith Davenport and John Dawes (that appeared in the September 1995 issue), and I would like to make the following observations. I know them both as friends, so I hope they won't mind.
To begin with, I completely agree with the concept that a properly managed and controlled ornamental fish trade can - indeed, must for its continued survival - contribute to the conservation of fish and aquatic habitats in a very significant fashion. Sustainable use of such a natural resource is potentially a very powerful conservation tool, and the ornamental trade must promote this approach, as well as support the studies that are necessary to formulate and monitor appropriate management plans. I realize that some financial support is being provided by the trade, but the extent of this support - for a global multibillion dollar a year industry - is very low and woefully inadequate. More, many more, of the individuals, companies and organizations that depend upon wild caught fishes for their profits and livelihoods must get behind conservation in an obvious and very credible way.
What about captive breeding? I suspect that if you were to go back 30 or 40 years, very few people would have predicted the growth of the aquarium hobby, or the fact that the fresh water side of it would one day be supported almost entirely from captive bred sources. So how does this relate to sustainable use versus captive breeding? I believe that we should urge the development of sustainable use methods (including harvesting for the ornamental trade and for human consumption, as well as eco-tourism), but that we should also pursue the captive breeding of coral reef fishes on a commercial scale. The technology and information is now available to breed dozens of the most popular marine species, and one day (as a result of political and/or legislative changes, or straight-forward scarcity) they just may not be available to home hobbyists.
I am, however, appalled by the level of mortalities of fishes and invertebrates that can occur during (and immediately after) transportation, and this is, of course, primarily an animal welfare issue. Regulations do exist, and I believe that the trade and airlines are trying to get it right. The trouble is, they're not there yet. Yes, importers should accept delayed and/or poorly or incorrectly packed fishes, but then that same importer (via defined and accepted channels) should do everything that he or she can to prevent it happening again (and not accept it as a factor when doing business). And at the same time as working on this animal welfare issue, couldn't all aspects of the ornamental fish trade benefit from the publicity that will result from supporting the conservation of the species upon which the trade depends - wild caught or otherwise? Now, before it gets too late, is the time for the trade to "get green".
At the National Aquarium in Baltimore we are speaking with a number of trade representatives regarding the potential support for aquatic conservation, and hope to be able to announce a number of initiatives in the near future. Furthermore, Aquarium staff are working with the American Zoo and Aquarium Association's Marine Fishes and Aquatic Invertebrate Taxon Advisory Groups, to assist the trade in developing their "eco-labelling" system for marine fishes and invertebrates. This system will allow some voluntary control within the trade, as well as provide information on the level of care that each species requires, and help ensure that fewer unsuitable species are offered for sale to unsuspecting hobbyists. To help this effort, a number of public aquariums (Baltimore, Shedd and Vancouver) have put advisory logos on tanks of certain fishes and invertebrates, urging caution regarding the keeping of certain species in home aquariums.
I am unashamedly a supporter of the ornamental fish trade and the wonderful, challenging and educational hobby that it supports. However, this seems to be the age of videos and computer games, and instant gratification and urban isolation, which emphasizes the need for putting people - especially children - in touch with the realities of life and the diversity of real living things. The hobby of ornamental fish keeping is one way to do this - at least for now.
As you may have heard, in order to publicize the need to learn more about coral reefs and how to keep them alive, 1997 has been designated the International Year of the Reef (IYOR). IYOR is a major effort to assess the condition of coral reefs worldwide, to document patterns of degradation and seek their causes, to educate the public about the values of reefs and to assist in the development of strategies to advance their recovery and promote their sustainable management. It will provide a global context for national and regional efforts and a handle for publicity and fund-raising activities, stimulating organizations and institutions with common interests and aims. It will be complementary to activities such as the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI) and other local national, regional or international programs.
IYOR will have a two pronged approach: The scientific community will be responsible for undertaking coral reef assessment, monitoring and other relevant research aimed at creating a more complete picture of the condition of the world's reefs and a better understanding of how we can help them stay alive. The IYOR's Public Awareness Committee, comprised of conservation organizations, educational institutions, associations, government representatives and scientists, will take the lead in developing public awareness activities designed to highlight the value of coral reefs and the serious threats that they face.
Several proposals for IYOR have been initiated including a coordinated curriculum on coral reef conservation for public aquariums around North America, a travelling exhibition of photographs of coral reefs by the world's leading underwater photographers, and a participatory education program for schoolchildren (such as a poster design contest). A number of other programs are also being considered, and we welcome suggestions of other IYOR activities.
IYOR-1997 will be launched at the 8th International Coral Reef Symposium in Panama in June of 1996. As co-chair of IYOR's Public Awareness Committee, CORAL, the Coral Reef Alliance, is working to recruit other NGOs, as well as scientists, educational institutions, and government representatives to participate in IYOR to ensure the broadest possible network for creating programs and distributing information on coral reefs. A list of the current members of the IYOR Public Awareness Committee is included [not included in Aquatic Survival. If your organization would like to play a part in this upcoming event, please let us know. Also, if you know of any other organihhzations interested in coral reef conservation, but not listed in the International Coral Reef NGO Directory, please forward their names to me so I can send them information about the International Year of the Reef.
I look forward to hearing from you soon.Sincerely,
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FishBase is an information system with key data on the biology of all important fishes. Similar to an encyclopedia, FishBase contains different things for different people. For example, fisheries managers will dive into the largest existing compilation of population dynamics data; taxonomists will enjoy the electronic version of Eschmeyer's (1990) catalog of the genera of recent fishes; conservationists will use the lists of threatened fishes for any given country (IUCN 1994); policy makers may be interested in a chronological, annotated list of introductions to their country; research scientists, as well as funding agencies will find it useful to gain a quick overview of what is known and what is still unknown about a certain species; zoologists and physiologists will have the largest existing compilations of fish morphology, metabolism, gill area, eye pigment, brain size, or swimming speed at their fingertips; ecologists will likewise use data on diet composition, food consumption, prey and predators as inputs for their models; aquaculturists will be surprised to see functional databases on genetic traits and culture experiments, as well as the foundation for a global strains registry; the fishing industry will find information on proximate analysis, as well as processing recommendations for many marine species; anglers will enjoy a listing of all game fishes occurring in a particular country (IGFA 1994); students of indigenous knowledge will find more than 50,000 common names of fishes together with the language/culture in which they are used and comments on their etymology.
Divers, anglers, aquarists, researchers can create their personal/institutional database of where and when they have seen, caught, or acquired what fish. Biodiversity managers can create national fish biodiversity databases to keep track of regulations and uses.
This information is accessible through an easy-to-use software interface on any IBM-compatible personal computer (386 or better, 8 MB RAM or more) with a CD-ROM drive and Microsoft Windows installed.
FishBase has been reviewed by R.A. McCall and R.M. May in Nature, Vol. 378:735, 31 August 1995, and by Matsuura in the Japanese Journal of Ichthyology, Vol. 42 (3/4):342You can order FishBase (including air-mail) by sending a US $95 cheque to: ICLARM/FishBase
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Expanding Partnerships in Conservation - New Book
The growth of human population and consumption around the globe is endangering
the world's biological resources. Protected areas - national parks, wildlife reserves,
biosphere reserves - will prosper only if they are supported by the public, the private
sector, and the full range of government agencies. Yet such support is unlikely unless
society appreciates the importance of protected areas to their own interests, and the
protected areas are well-managed and contribute to the national welfare in a cost-
A crucial foundation for success is full cooperation between individuals and
institutions. Based on papers presented at the IVth World Congress on National
Parks and Protected Areas, Expanding Partnerships in Conservation, edited by Jeffrey
A. McNeely of IUCN, explores how new and stronger partnerships can be formed
between managers of protected areas and other sectors of society. It describes a
range of activities currently underway in many parts of the world that are intended to
improve conservation efforts at the international, national, and local level.
The first part of the book discusses the principles of partnerships ranging from local and public support to institutional considerations. The second and third parts investigate partnerships in major sectors, such as forestry, zoology, tourism and the military, and the community. Expanding Partnerships in Conservation also:
The book will be a valuable resource for anyone involved with establishing new protected areas, improving the management of existing areas, and building more positive relationships with the people who live in and around protected areas. Jeffrey A. McNeely is director of the Biodiversity Programme at IUCN.Expanding Partnerships in conservation
Edited by Jeffrey A. McNeely
IUCN - The World Conservation Union
368 pages - figures, tables, index
Paperback: $34.95 ISBN:1-55963-351-4
To order contact Island Press, Box 7, Dept. 2PR, Covelo, CA 95428, U.S.A. Tel: 1-800- 828-1302.
|(Source: Island Press News Release)|
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Recent Madagascar Field WorkRecent Madagascar Field Work
Madagascar during October 1995. Their reconnaissance of the Montagne d'Ambre massif resulted in the discovery of several populations of Pachypanchax sakaramyi in streams flowing to the south and east of the Sakaramy river as well as Lac Texier, a low-altitude crater lake located entirely within the boundaries of Montagne d'Ambre National Park. While follow-up research will be required to ascertain the status of this population, its existence offers the possibility of effective in situ conservation efforts on behalf of this killifish. They completed the survey of the Mont Passot crater lakes on Nosy Bé, collecting founders of Paratilapia polleni from Lac des Deux Soeurs and of Ptychochromis cf. nossibeensis from Lac Andjavibe, Lac Amparahible and Lac des Deux Soeurs. Future securing the status of "Reserve Speciale" for Mont Passot crater lakes and implementing a reforestation program for their catchment areas in partnership with SIRAMA, the state sugar company. Efforts to secure breeding stock of the Onilahy basin population of Ptychochromis cf. successful. The first of these fish appears to be extinct. The second was found in the Ianala River, but extremely low population density precluded capturing any live specimens in the time available. A clearer appreciation of the logistic difficulties associated with collecting in this part of Madagascar was the chief fruit of this effort. These insights will be incorporated into future plans to collect breeding stock of this most endangered of all Malagasy freshwater fishes.(Source: AZA Freshwater Fishes Taxon Advisory Group- Minutes, Annual Meeting, Seattle, WA September 15,- Minutes, Annual Meeting, Seattle, WA September 15, 1995 - Post meeting, prepublication update preparedprepublication update prepared by Paul Loiselle
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|1.||If you are changing the fishes to a different water region, make the transition as slowly as possible.|
|2.||Be very conservative with diets. A well formulated commercial flake food may be the best choice of all. Goodeids are omnivorous. A diet heavy in live foods or one that is overly rich may cause abnormally large embryos and result in prolapsed oviducts, especially in young mothers. The maternal supplementation of the embryos during their development can be so great that the females may actually die while birthing over-sized young.|
|3.||Always try for an initial colony of at least 20 fish of near-equal sex ratio. This will minimize harassment of weaker fishes. If fewer females are available, use heavily planted tanks and provide a dither-fish to deter excessive bullying of the less dominant individuals. Guppies or platies make good temporary companions of goodeids.|
|4.||Preferably juvenile fish of less than two months should be chosen. They acclimate better and will be less aggressive to one another in a new home than older fishes will be.|
|5.||When possible never take adult males. They often bully tankmates, male and female. Also, females mature much younger than males. It is best to have juvenile males matched with mature females. This minimizes the chance that small females will become impregnated and have the birth problems mentioned in #2 above.|
|6.||Well fed goodeids almost never cannibalize their young. Leave the young with parents. Once a multigenerational colony has formed most aggression will disappear, the fishes will appear to be less shy, and littering will occur throughout the year. Never keep goodeids by age groups! This will be counterproductive to healthy social interaction.|
|7.||Goodeids do best at temperatures between 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit. Higher temperatures may complicate birthing trauma and probably contribute to metabolic stresses caused by poor water quality.|
|8.||Perform water changes as often and as massively as possible. Good water chemistry will improve success and allow more fishes to be kept in a given tank. I do not recommend crowding goodeids but I cannot stress how much better the fishes do in multigenerational colonies.|
Apathy and apathy alone has pushed the Golden Sawfin to
the brink of total extinction. An apathy that has allowed
its native environment to deteriorate. Your apathy - and
mine as well - to a fish that for twenty years has needed
constant predictable support in its captive husbandry. For
many years I offered stock to any interested parties. Few
public aquaria were interested and those who took stock
were largely unsuccessful in its management. It was
especially disheartening to learn from one professional
that an institution's stock was discontinued because it
would not cohabit with Monterrey platies, an endangered
species that even the most amateur aquarist can husband.
In hindsight one might think perhaps the wrong species was
favored in that instance. In fact one of the serious
problems confronting any manager of endangered species is
the need to play "God" - making daunting decisions
involving disposition of surplus stocks, species
priorities, and resource allocation (how best to utilize
changing materiel such as staff, finances, personal time
and other variables). For reasons difficult to understand
America's public aquaria have chosen to invest most of
their limited resources into husbanding the endangered
cichlids of Lake Victoria - a flock of specialized
haplochromines whose genetic diversity is either
nonexistent or is at least defying quantitative
measurement. In the meantime only the Belle Isle Aquarium
and the Dallas Aquarium seem to acknowledge that an
enitire family, the Goodeidae, representing far more
genetic diversity than the Victorian cichlids is slipping
slowly toward extinction. But again, this is only part of
What about amateur aquarists, the hobbyists? Have we upheld our commitment to responsible aquaristry? I think not. I for one, after retiring, made a decision to abandon the Golden Sawfin that seems grievously wrong in hindsight. A highly respected Canadian aquarist whose colony was well-established and fecund to the point that his surplus stock was a continuous problem made the decision to divest his stocks because the species was TOO easy and no longer a challenge. This was an intensely personal decision which I can understand but it raises a mind-boggling question. If those parties who are the MOST SUCCESSFUL in managing an endangered species opt instead to husband another species that is MORE DIFFICULT to manage, is not our perspective of managing endangered species flawed? Should we as a collective of hobbyists and professionals not be concentrating our efforts where they are most effective? or should we treat endangered species as we do other fishes to which the fads and whims of the moment direct our interests? The Europeans were as apathetic towards the Golden Sawfin's plight as were the Americans. It was always easier to reimport nuclear stocks than it was to provide permanent "safehouses" for the fish.
Unless a miracle occurs and someone does locate a surviving population of Golden Sawfins in the wild, Doug Sweet is the key to this species' future. Doug tried to get me set up with new stocks during 1995 on two different occasions. I failed both times. Where once I couldn't dispose of my surplus now I was encountering the problems of others in getting a species to settle down initially.
Doug Sweet's judgement should be respected totally at this point. He is the ultimate authority on the management of this species at this time. That empirical fact supercedes the collective wisdom of all of us who were successful in the past. We should be prepared to assist Doug in any way possible with his efforts to resurrect the numerical safety-net for the golden Sawfin. Don't badger or cajole Doug for stock. Offer your support but let him decide when transfers are possible and to whom they should go. I trust him and believe you should also.
Somehow it is imperative that for the Golden Sawfin and all endangered species, we should adopt an ethical continuum of management. A means of assuring that when one successful "safehouse" is lost, another is in reserve. We need to change priorities with the emphasis of reward and recognition being given to aquarists for longterm commitments. The mentality that "scarce" and "new" is better than "familiar" poses real threat to longterm management of endangered species. Most of them are not the handsome, traditional "bread-and-butter" mainstays of the aquarium trade so their longterm commercial propagation is not likely. Instead as aquarists we need to adopt these species as "familiar" obligations to satisfy our innate need for self respect and our very real need to commit to and sustain the biodiversity of our planet!
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If you have something that you think would be of interest to the ACN membership and it is not addressed in the above criteria, feel free to drop me a line.Rodney W. Harper
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Marine researchers and conservationists fear recent proposals for boat-based tourism on Kangaroo Island's American River Inlet Aquatic Reserve, in South Australia, may damage seagrasses important for commercial and recreational fisheries within the lagoon, and directly threaten the habitat of a tiny fish species, found only in South Australia.
American River Inlet (Pelican Lagoon) is a very large shallow bay with five islets, connected to the open sea by a narrow channel. The lagoon and nearby American River Inlet consist of extensive sand and sandy-mud tidal flats. Typically these flats are colonized by Posidonia and Zostera seagrasses with associated epiphytic algae.
The shallow seagrass beds of American River Inlet and Pelican Lagoon are important habitat for the little known Vercoi's Pipefish (Vanacanpus vercoi) described from Pelican Lagoon in 1960.
Pipefish are small, beautiful relatives of seahorses and seadragons. The eleven centimetre Vercoi's pipefish was known only from a few sites in South Australia, but appears to have been most abundant in Pelican Lagoon on Kangaroo Island. It has the most restricted range of any species in its family found in Southern waters. The inlet is also important habitat for the Longsnout Pipefish (Vanacampus poecilolaemus) known only from a small area of Western Australia, northern Tasmania and Kangaroo Island.
Another tiny fish, the thirteen centimetre Eelblenny (Peronedys anguillaris) lives amongst the seagrass roots and decaying weed of Pelican Lagoon. It is known only from a few sites in South Australia and one report from Morton Bay.
Species with unusually restricted geographic ranges such as Vercoi's pipefish and the eelblenny may suffer global extinction from relatively small scale impacts.
The Federal Government's Australian National Conservation Agency has already defined the threat to the Inlet as "motor boats causing water disturbance, silting of marine grass and algae meadows".
Currently there is an extremely low level of boating in the inlet, due to its aquatic reserve status that prohibits fishing activities and its shallow nature. Two ferry companies are proposing tour operations, one proposing a 25 metre, purpose built shallow draft jet powered vessel.
As early as 1979, the late Dr. John Glover, then Curator of Fish at the South Australian Museum identified tourism impacts as a threat to the Kangaroo Island's fishes, "because of the island's developing tourism, there is a growing threat to this (fish) fauna - due to increasing recreational fishing and spoilage of the aquatic environment arising from other human activities such as power boating." and "measures to minimise the potential threat to this vulnerable fauna should be considered".
Our seagrass beds are like the "savannas of the sea", with a wealth of our economic fish species and the livelihood of fishers dependant on them. The decline of seagrasses is one of the most important issues facing the future of our fisheries and it is vital to manage this resource. Whilst the major threats to seagrasses are from pollution, undisturbed coastal estuaries such as Pelican Lagoon are placed at risk from increased boating activity.
The accelerated decline of metropolitan and the gulf's seagrass beds over the past 40 years, from 80% cover to 28% cover, places an increasingly high value on remaining undisturbed areas for commercial and recreational fisheries, research and conservation.
We know so little about the natural history of marine plants and animals that it is important to manage their habitats to ensure their survival. Fisheries managers need to develop an ecosystem approach for the management and conservation of marine life.
There is an urgent need for South Australian Fisheries to act to protect American River Inlet Aquatic Reserve from degradation from proposed boating activities, and alleviate community fears over the future of the inlet.
The findings of the Federal State of the Marine Environment Report state "It is only by a combination of immediate precautionary measures and vital research that we meet our responsibilities, not only to protect our endemic marine species, but also those widely distributed species that are under enormous pressure in other parts of their range."
"It is far preferable that, rather than compensate for damage, estuarine areas are never considered as sites for destructive or damaging developments or activities in the first place." (NSW Fisheries, Estuarine Management Guidelines 1993).Information provided on behalf of the members of the Kangaroo Island Community, by the Marine and Coastal Community Network, South Australian Region. For further information contact Tony Flaherty, Marine and Coastal Community Network, South Australian Region, P.O. Box 120, Henley Beach, South Australia 5022, Australia. Tel: (08) 200 2455; Fax: (08) 2002481; Email: email@example.com
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This report was originally released in April, 1994 by the federal (Canadian) Department of Environment and is now in the second printing. Consisting of 425 pages in 30 chapters, the report is a collaboration of some 170 of British Columbia's top specialists in various fields of biodiversity. It begins by establishing a philosophical context on the importance of conserving systems by Dr. J. Stan Rowe, Professor Emeritus, University of Saskatchewan, now living in New Denver, B.C., and ends with a discussion of the ethics of land use by Mr. Robert F. Harrington, winner of the 1991 award from the Premier of British Columbia for Environmental Educator of the Year. In between are chapters on classification of rarity and determination of conservation status; chapters on rare and endangered species of all taxa in the province for which inventories are available; a chapter on exotic species in freshwater, terrestrial and marine environments; detailed examinations of existing and potential threats to B.C.'s forest, grassland, marine and urban ecosystems; chapters on the possible effects of climate change and tropical deforestation on the ecosystems of British Columbia; and chapters on protected area programs in the province. A final chapter synthesizes conclusions and recommendations of the preceding chapters.
The purpose of the report is to scope the issue of biodiversity in the context of the United Nations Convention on Biodiversity and the development of Canadian and British Columbia strategies on biodiversity. It provides a reference for people working to conserve biodiversity, and an analysis of the challenges facing conservation of biodiversity in this province. The intended audiences are scientists, environmental and resource managers, and the educated/interested public.
The report may be ordered from University of British Columbia Press. Send $29.95 plus $4.00 for shipping to: UBC Press, University of British Columbia, 6344 Memorial Road, Vancouver, B.C. Canada V6T 1Z2. (Source: Lee Harding, Email: HARDINGL@cwsvan.dots.doe.ca)
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Copyright© 1996 Aquatic Conservation Network