Thank you Todd for posting my thoughts as printed in American Currents. I can't
really add much to what I said there, but I need to clarify a couple of things
that folks may have misunderstood.
While I was needling Bruce, our esteemed President, about providing evidence
that aquarium collecting causes harm, I was NOT arguing that lack of such
evidence constitutes justification to harvest animals willy-nilly. I believe my
original writings make that abundantly clear. I am saying that a common sense
approach needs to be applied, using the best information available on a
case-by-case basis. Somehow my comments were construed as being far-right, when
I think my approach is very much middle-of-the-road.
I agree (SHOCK!) somewhat with Todd and others who argue that leaving the
critters alone is the best for the _organism_. However, I would respond by
saying that if the only place your average Joe can see species X is in a museum
somewhere, or pickled in a jar, then why should he care about it, much less
spend his tax dollars supporting folks who tell him he can look but not touch?
In the real world, the "organism" is not the only consideration. I do not
consider myself an environmentalist - that is to say, one who feels that the
perceived health of the environment is the only important consideration. I am a
conservationist - I feel that the environment and its components may be
harvested and used, but not abused. To me, collecting a few fishes from an
abundant, non-protected population, constitutes fair use and does not threaten
Which leads me to the welaka thread...
This is one of those cases where I prefer to err on the side of caution (i.e.
use the best information I have). In my area, there are a relative few, albeit
well-known, welaka sites. These sites are regularly targeted by at least one
museum and at least a couple of universities. I was VERY alarmed when a museum
employee told me that these sites had been cleaned out by someone collecting for
the pet trade (sorry, Steffen, for repeating his suspicion about a "German
Hobbyist". I should have known better than to get all excited based on his
say-so. BG correctly pointed out that these pops are very transitory - here one
year, gone the next, and back again. But this is one of those fishes which is
ripe for exploitation. I get a LOT of requests for welaka. Now, one guy
collecting for his home aquarium is not a big deal. A LOT of fish being
harvested from a limited number of sites, on a regular basis, is cause for
concern. It's not just the hobbyists - here is one case where, IMHO, there is
substantial collecting pressure on certain MS populations. AFIK, P. welaka is
listed as S3 (or worse) in every state where it is found (not sure about Fla?) -
I could be wrong, no time to look it up just now. But here we have a case where
the fish is not really abundant anywhere, AND there is a strong demand for it.
I did actually stop short of stating that NANFA should absolutely declare a
moratorium on aquarium collections of this species, but it is a situation I am
eyeing very carefully. I don't ship any more welaka, for the record.
Now, some have chosen to challenge the validity of the "noble hobbyist" concept
- that is, that the average hobbyist is at least as likely as a professional to
discover husbandry info, etc... and in this, I am forced to agree that they are
correct. As our esteemed editor pointed out to me privily, "mostly they just
want cool fish". But to me this is OK too - it falls under the category of fair use.
I haven't read nearly all the emails yet but I hope this addresses some of the
major talking points and clears up any apparent contradictions/misconceptions.
Time permitting I will comment as I further deem necessary.
BTW, did anybody catch the story about enviro's suing a windmill energy company,
because the windmills kill birds?
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