It is frightening for fish lovers to find out that many of the saltwater fish (mainly from Asia) are collected using techniques harmful to the environment. These techniques include the use of dynamite and cyanide.

Dynamite collecting is done by simply detonating an explosive in the water over a coral reef then collecting all the stunned fish on the perimeter of the blast. Obviously, all the fish and coral in the centre of the blast are killed, but the fish in the surrounding area are just stunned. The collector then simply collect which species they want out of the sometimes thousands of stunned fish. All of these fish are taken back to the export station where the dead are separated from the fish that come to. Any of these fish that survive are shipped off to the retail trade. Most of these fish die in the coming months as their immune system is rarely able to totally cope with such a stress.

When fish are collected using cyanide, a diver will enter the water generally on a hooker line with a bottle of cyanide spray on his back. The bottle is connected to a nozzle which allows him to spray cyanide into caves and crevasses. The fish in the direct area are killed while the fish on the perimeter of the poison are induced into a coma. These fish are easily collected.

When the divers return from a collecting trip all of the fish which have come to are sent to the exporter while the fish that are dead are thrown back in to the water. These fish are quickly consumed by other fish and animals which can all become sick from the cyanide still in the fish.

Every day more fish are thrown out until they are finally sent to the retailers. Only a small proportion of the fish collected survive for any length of time, most are dead within 3 months. There are no easy tests to find out if a fish is caught with cyanide. You can easily buy a cyanide caught fish which will appear healthy until it finally dies due to its exposure to this poison. This is why it is so important to on buy fish from a trusted source.

I have done a lot of travel around the world and have had the chance to speak with cyanide drug collectors. I have been so shocked to find that some of they seem almost unaware of the problems they are creating. I have had collectors tell me that the drug only puts the fish to sleep and allows stress-free handling. Some seem to believe that if the fish don’t wake up, then they just need to be returned back to the water as they will wake up overnight. The bad news is that most of them don’t wake up and are eaten by other predators that can also be affected by the drug. They have even told me that they believe that when the fish get to the aquarium store then they are treated and live out a happy life.

This lack of education means that some of the very people killing our reefs may be doing it without knowing. Most of the cyanide collectors are local peasants desperate to provide for their families. These people work for the export companies who would never endanger themselves with this activity. Many of the collectors are unaware of the dangers and have short lifespans from exposure to cyanide. Others still use these techniques because of greed or desperation.

We must do what we can to educate the public and allow informed discussions surrounding this activity. Majestic Aquariums has the best reputation in the industry for its quality of fish. Paul Talbot regularly visits its suppliers just to be sure of the technique they use. Majestic Aquariums have built a wonderful relationship with the best suppliers in Australia and is therefore able to provide the best range of quality net caught fish. Majestic Aquariums extensively test the survivability of the fish from any new suppliers. Due to this you can be assured that the fish you buy from Majestic Aquariums are free from any of these issues. Some of the less creditable stores and online suppliers are more interested in making a quick buck and moving on.