Hedgehog seahorses susceptible to bottom trawling

This lovely sea creature is a Hedgehog seahorse (Hippocampus spinosissimus) – it was photographed off the coast of the northern Philippines by iNaturalist user Francesco Ricciardi. The Hedgehog seahorse is frequently found on corals and sea sponges, as well as the sandy bottoms of the ocean where they  feed on small crustaceans and other planktonic invertebrates. Unfortunately, their choice of habitat makes them more susceptible to bottom trawling, a harmful fishing practice that sweeps up the seafloor and leads to the destruction and loss of so much marine life.

The Hedgehog seahorse is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. Overfishing is a major threat to this seahorse species, and in particular bottom trawling. It is also one of the most commonly reported seahorses in wildlife trade and used in traditional medicine. More than 70 million seahorses are caught in unmanaged fisheries each year. In fact, “most seahorses in international trade were caught in bottom trawls and other non-selective fisheries. So, most seahorses that are used IN traditional medicine were not caught FOR traditional medicine” says Dr Amanda Vincent.

To overcome the pressures placed on their habitats and populations, we must demand an end to:

  • bottom trawling – the waste of life is atrocious
    • harmful subsidies – we are paying to keep unprofitable fisheries afloat
  • illegal, unreported and unmanaged fisheries
  • illegal wildlife trade

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