Conservation action requires an understanding of biology of the animals and the threats that they face. It is difficult to develop management plans, propose trade curbs, or initiate policy without knowing actual levels of exploitation.
Dr. Amanda Vincent, director of Project Seahorse, undertook the first analysis of seahorse fisheries and trades during extensive Asian field work in 1993 and 1995. Her results were published as a TRAFFIC Species in Danger monograph in 1996.
Project Seahorse researchers are now repeating and extending this fisheries and trade work in order to help us understand how seahorse exploitation has changed and what this means.
Global surveys of the seahorse trade were conducted between 1996 and 2000 in South and Southeast Asia, North, Central, and South America, Europe, Africa, and Australia and New Zealand.
The lack of formal record-keeping on marine medicinals means that research requires hundreds of market surveys and interviews with fishers, buyers, exporters, importers, wholesalers, retailers, consumers, and related experts. Local biologists or social workers help our researchers interpret during visits, providing extra cultural information, and verifying notes.
Better management of seahorse fisheries and seahorse habitat will rely heavily on finding alternative, sustainable income-earning opportunities for the communities that depend on the seahorse trade.
It will also depend on a sophisticated understanding of the animals and their ecosystems, the establishment and maintenance of protected areas, well-conceived and implemented regulations, strong local communities, and improved environmental education.