A Unification Church pastor from the United Kingdom was eager to score points with Rev. Sun Myung Moon, his cult leader. His chosen method? Illegally sell leopard shark pups, to the tune of about $1.2 million of business over 10 years. Apparently Moon thinks fishing is just the thing for his pastors to do when not peddling Moon’s other bizarre ideas. Legality is, apparently, just an optional item.
Speaking of years, the article notes that the pastor could get 8 years in jail for his part in the trade.
OK, so there’s one less ocean exploiter at large. It is a good thing for the FBI to put the kibosh on this operation. But…
Something that gets little attention is that the methods used by legitimate traders in aquarium fish can be harmful to reef environments. So even when someone does all the paperwork correctly, if they go out and use agents like Rotenone to stupefy fish, they affect far more of a reef population than the fish that they actually collect. Mechanical damage also causes long-term harm to these fragile ecosystems. We as a culture insisted upon guidelines for tuna fishing to reduce dolphin bycatch; it is about time that we paid attention to the methods of those supplying the hobbyist marine fish market as well to assure that today’s flashy tank denizens don’t come with a hidden price tag of dead and dying reef communities.