Magnitude and trends of marine fish curio imports to the USA

The curio trade in marine fishes has not previously been quantitatively analysed. As a contribution towards understanding the scale and conservation impact of such trade we summarize import and export data from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service for 1997–2001.

At least 32 fish species were involved in the USA’s international trade in curios, of which 24 were included on the 2004 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, with categorizations ranging from Endangered to Data Deficient. The USA apparently imported an annual total of approximately one million fish and 360 tonnes of fish parts, worth more than USD 1.7 million, although total volume declined over the 5 years of data.

Fish curios imported to the USA reportedly came primarily from Taiwan and the Philippines, with 95% of curios obtained from wild populations. The three marine fish groups most traded for curios were sharks, seahorses and porcupinefishes. The value per individual fish fluctuated across years, with a considerable increase in the value of dried seahorses from 1997 to 2001. The trade probably adds to conservation concerns for at least some species.

Grey, M., Blais, A.M. & A.C.J. Vincent (2005). Magnitude and trends of marine fish curio imports to the USA. Oryx39(4), 413-420.