Over the years a lot of ink has been spilled about cyanide-caught fish, and a lot of lip service has been paid to catching ornamental fish using nets. Talk is cheap and real action is expensive, and RVS Fishworld has been leading the charge to educate and train their own divers to collect aquarium fish the right way.
Talk is cheap, and real action is expensive. And to that end it seems like for the last couple of years RVS Fishworld has had not one, not two, but a nearly bi-monthly schedule of net training programs to teach fisherman how to use nets. This represents a significant financial investment into entire communities of coastal fisherman, and this is super important for a multitude of reasons.
First and most obviously, it is directly reducing the numbers of cyanide caught fish, which is good for the hobby, and for the trade. Secondly, it is teaching a whole new generation of Filipinos that coral reefs are valuable, and they can make a living by selectively harvesting small ornamental fish, while leaving food fish for them and their families.
Less obvious is the fact that training these fisherman to collect fish with nets, instead of cyanide, and being part of a conscientious aquarium trade, is one of the biggest protectors of corals reefs overall. Already this form of income is one of the least destructive forms of income for coastal communities, and without it they’d have to resort to something worse, like the Live Food Fish Trade, Shark Finning, Beche de Mer, Dynamite blasting, or any number of extremely damaging fishing practices.
I just want to point out that RVS Fishworld is going above and beyond simply giving Fishermen some nets and telling them to use it; they’re also teaching them why it matters that they use fishing net instead of cyanide. By being trained in big groups it strengthens their community bonds, so it’s not just a few isolated net trained fishermen surrounded by cyanide users, but whole communities that are being transformed.
This project is incredibly important because although it’s happening far away from western aquarium markets, it’s one of the few initiatives that the hobby can point to in our defense of people who say the aquarium hobby is just a part of ‘wildlife trafficking’. On the heels of our temporary victory in the fight to close down Hawaiian reefs, this is precisely the kind of program the hobby needs to extol and promote, because these kinds of engaging programs should be happening all over the world, and RVS Fishworld should be getting as much help and support as the hobby can provide.
To find out more about the ongoing net training programs in the Philippines, visit the RVS Fishworld Facebook page.