Sustainable Trade

Project Staff

Amanda Vincent
Director, Co-founder
Christina Czembor
Research Assistant
Heather Koldewey
Field Conservation Manager & Co-Founder
Sarah Foster
Research Associate


Seahorses are valuable global commodities that are traded around the world for use in traditional Chinese medicine, aquaria, and for curiosities. Since 2004, the international trade of seahorses has been regulated

Project Seahorse takes an active role in providing information to many levels of the trade network, from customs officials, to traditional medicine practitioners, and aquarists. By monitoring fisheries and the seahorse trade, we promote the sustainable consumption of seahorses.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)

We engage TCM traders and practitioners in Hong Kong and mainland China, supporting their work to make trade sustainable and promoting greater conservation awareness in TCM consumers.   Projects: Fostering marine conservation in Traditional Chinese Medicine,  Working with the Traditional Chinese Medicine community in Hong Kong and Vancouve: Developed a voluntary code of conduct for seahorse imports to Hong Kong, in collaboration with traditional Chinese medicine business groups.

Aquariums and aquaculture

Working with our colleagues around the world, we improve the sustainability of the aquarium trade in seahorses, ensuring that purchases come from sustainable sources and developing monitoring systems for the live trade of other syngnathids. Some of our successes include:

  • Co-ordinating  the first workshop on husbandry, management and conservation of seahorses at the Shedd Aquarium, Chicago (1998); 
  • Establishing the European zoo and aquarium seahorse breeding programme; 
  • Organizing the first regional collection plan for zoos and aquariums for any marine fish; 
  • Completing the first compilation of knowledge on seahorse husbandry in public aquariums; 
  • Forming a network for professional aquarists interested in syngnathids (293 members from 82 institutions in 17 countries).

Fish and seafood consumption

The food we choose to eat from the ocean has an immense effect on the marine ecosystem’s health. Making smarter choices at the table means everybody can contribute to marine conservation. Project Seahorse helped to move the University of British Columbia (Vancouver, Canada) and the Zoological Society of London (UK) towards the sustainable consumption of seafood to reduce our impacts on fisheries.

Program publications

Koldewey, H.J. and K.M. Martin-Smith (2010) A global review of seahorse aquaculture. Aquaculture DOI:10.1016/j. aquaculture.2009.11.010 

Nadeau, J.L., J.M.R. Curtis and S.A. Lourie (2009) Preservation causes shrinkage in seahorses: Implications for biological studies and managing sustainable trade using minimum size limits. Aquatic Cons. 19 (4): 428-438 

Lunn, K.E., M. J. Villanueva Noriega, and A.C.J. Vincent (2008). Souvenirs from the sea: an investigation into the curio trade of echinoderms in Mexico. TRAFFIC Bulletin 22(1):19-32

Giles, B.G., S.K. Truong, H.H. Do and A.C.J. Vincent (2006) The catch and trade of seahorses in Vietnam. Biodiversity and Conservation 15(6):2497-2513 

Grey, M. and A.C.J. Vincent (2006) Extent and possible conservation implications of fish use for research, testing and education in North America. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems 16:569-578 

Grey, M., A.-M. Blais, B. Hunt and A.C.J. Vincent (2006) The USA's international trade in fish leather, from a conservation perspective. Environmental Conservation 33(2):100-108 

Hunt, B. and A.C.J. Vincent (2006) Scale and Sustainability of Marine Bioprospecting for Pharmaceuticals. Ambio 35:57-64 

Martin-Smith, K.M. and A.C.J. Vincent (2006) Exploitation and trade in Australian seahorses, pipehorses, sea dragons and pipefishes (Family Syngnathidae). Oryx 40:141-151 

Baum, J.K. and A.C.J. Vincent (2005) Magnitude and inferred impacts of the seahorse trade in Latin America. Environmental Conservation 32:305-319 

Foster, S.J. and A.C.J. Vincent (2005) Enhancing sustainability of the international trade in seahorses with a single minimum size limit. Conservation Biology 19:1044-1050 

Grey, M., A.-M. Blais, and A.C.J. Vincent (2005) Magnitude and trends of marine fish curio imports to the USA. Oryx 39(4):413-420 

Foster, S.J. and A.C.J. Vincent (2004) Life history and ecology of seahorses: implications for conservation and management. Journal of Fish Biology 65:1-61 

McPherson, J.M. and A.C.J. Vincent (2004) Assessing East African trade in seahorse species as a basis for conservation under international controls. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems 14(5):521-538 

Job, S.D., H.H. Do, J.J. Meeuwig and H.J. Hall (2002) Culturing the oceanic seahorse, Hippocampus kuda. Aquaculture 214:333-341 

Wilson, M.J. and A.C.J. Vincent (2000) Preliminary success in closing the life cycle of exploited seahorse species, Hippocampus spp., in captivity. Aquarium Sciences and Conservation 4:179-196 

Vincent, A.C.J. (1997) Trade in pegasid fishes (sea moths), primarily for traditional Chinese medicine. Oryx 31(3):199-208 

Vincent, A. (1995) Seahorse conservation and traditional Chinese medicine. Abstracts of Chinese Medicine 6(2):272-281 

Vincent, A.C.J. (1995) Trade in seahorses for Traditional Chinese Medicines, aquarium fishes and curios. TRAFFIC Bulletin 15:125-128