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Exploitation and trade of Australian seahorses, pipehorses, sea dragons and pipefishes (Family Syngnathidae)


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Martin-Smith, KM and Vincent, ACJ 2006 , 'Exploitation and trade of Australian seahorses, pipehorses, sea dragons and pipefishes (Family Syngnathidae)' , Oryx, vol. 40, no. 2 , pp. 141-151 , doi: 10.1017/S003060530600010X.

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Seahorses and their syngnathid relatives have
provided a focus for efforts to ensure sustainable use of
marine resources, with new international trade controls
(CITES Appendix II) implemented in May 2004. We demonstrate
how a study of international trade can be used to
assess relative levels of threat and set domestic research
and conservation priorities. Australia has remarkably
high syngnathid biodiversity with at least 14 seahorse
species, two endemic sea dragon species, and 90 species
of pipefishes and pipehorses found in its territorial
waters. Our objectives were to quantify species, trade
routes, volumes, values and temporal trends in syngnathid
trade to and from Australia. We found that Australia
is probably the major global supplier of dried pipehorses
Solegnathus spp.. These fishes, including at least one
endemic species, are sourced from trawl bycatch and
comprise Australia's largest syngnathid export, by
both volume and value. Research is urgently needed
to evaluate the impacts and sustainability of trawling
on pipehorse populations. Australia is also the sole
supplier of two sea dragon species, Phycodurus eques
and Phyllopteryx taeniolatus, for the live aquarium trade.
Although lucrative, the number of wild-caught individuals
involved in this trade was relatively low and
probably of low conservation risk relative to habitat
loss. Exports of seahorses and other pipefish species, and
imports of all syngnathid species, are minor on a global
scale, although the burgeoning aquaculture industry for
seahorses requires careful evaluation for its potential
impacts on wild populations.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Martin-Smith, KM and Vincent, ACJ
Keywords: Aquaculture, aquarium, bycatch, exports, imports, pipefish, pipehorse, sea dragon, Syngnathidae, traditional medicine
Journal or Publication Title: Oryx
ISSN: 0030-6053
DOI / ID Number: 10.1017/S003060530600010X
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