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Published in: Aquaculture, Aquariums, Conservation & Legislation, Vol. 5, 2012


The marine aquarium hobby is a global industry with trade chains on six continents. This industry is undergoing rapid changes in hob byist preferences that are in part driven by global economies and technology. In an effort to better assess the past trends and help provide insight into future growth and demand, we assessed three different trade data sources, the United States-State of Florida Marine Life Landings, CITES stony coral imports, and United States Fish and Wildlife Service’s Law Enforcement Information Systems import data for ‘live rock’. Data for the past 10 years were analyzed and a clear trend of growth followed by decline was observed with the peak and degree of decline varying for the different trade categories. While the global economic downturn decreased trade volumes across the board other forces have dramatically affected the importation of coral reef products. ‘Live Rock’ and Florida produced ‘live sand’ dramatically decreased two years prior to the global economic recession. The decline of these trade categories coincides with rapid changes in technology used to maintain captive reef aquariums which allowed for the advent of the smaller “nano” reef tanks. Importing and exporting countries, CITES and other international government bodies, concerned Non-Governmental Organizations and scientist would greatly benefit from a deeper understanding of this industry from a producer and consumer standpoint in order to better predict how the marine aquarium hobby will be shaped by external forces in the future.

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