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Marine Policy

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The collection of marine taxa for the aquarium trade continues to demand live animals be extracted from reefs, but in doing so, offers economic benefits for local communities. To improve our understanding of the status of marine aquariumtrade in India, information on harvested species and their volume was gathered at the major collection hubs (Tuticorin, Kilakarai and Mandapam) in the Gulf of Mannar region, and compared to the export data. During one year, 87 species of fish (51% belonging to the family Pomacentridae) and 21 species of invertebrates were harvested for the trade. The conservation status of exploited species revealed that nearly 50% (n=43) have not been assessed for their extinction risk by the IUCN, while of the 44 species assessed, 41 were Least Concern (LC), and one each was in the Data Deficient (DD), Near Threatened (NT) and Endangered (EN) categories. While many fish were collected, only a few were exported from India. The sea anemones were the major export as they were of a higher value in the international markets, largely attributed to their color patterns. Price discrepancies within the trade value of marine fishes and invertebrates used for the aquarium trade indicated that price increased approximately 200% at each transition in the value chain (collectors to wholesalers, wholesalers to retailers). Management strategies and conservation plans for India's marine ornamental taxa subjected to exploitation are provided so as to ensure long-term sustainability of the coral reef ecosystems, as well as the livelihood that are dependent on them.



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