By Michele C. Hollow of Pet News and Views
My head is swimming. I just started doing research on colorful reef fish, and my findings are frightening. As a kid, we had a fish tank in our house. I, for some unknown reason, didn’t bother to think about where these fish came from. They were your basic guppies and neons. As a kid, I gave up eating meat because I love animals. I would not wear fur, and convinced everyone I knew not to wear it either.
One of the best compliments I got was when a friend told me that her mom was going to buy her a rabbit fur coat. She said, “Oh no you can’t. Michele would never speak to me again.” She even convinced her mom not to buy one of these coats for herself.
So, I knew about the fur trade. I knew about factory farming. How could I not have known about the tropical fish industry?
What opened my eyes is a new book from a man who calls himself Snorkel Bob. His hardcover book, filled with beautiful photographs of a broad assortment of tropical fish, is called Neptune Speaks. It also includes a DVD of the fish found mostly in the waters of Hawaii, where Snorkel Bob lives. Snorkel Bob, also known as Robert Wintner, gets a bit preachy at times. Heck, he is angry. His book exposes the trafficking of fish for the pet trade. He asks, “Why are colorful reef fish still taken in Hawaii with no limit on the catch, no limit on the numbers of catchers, and no constraint on rare, endemic or vanishing species?” His answer is because the trade makes big money.
His book covers the destruction of the reef, how it affects us, and says that “If we don’t stop the destruction of these beautiful creatures, the images in books will be all we have left.
This post is an introduction to what is to come. I plan on writing more articles on this topic. I have calls into Petco, PetSmart, and HSUS (Humane Society of the United States) regarding the industry, the way these fish are captured, about captive breeding programs, and more. As I said, my head is swimming. The more I dig, the more dismayed I get. Over the next few weeks, I will be doing more reporting on this topic. In the meantime, I urge all of you to not to buy tropical fish.