Seahorse trade in Mexico

Mexico traded both dried and live seahorses. Domestic seahorses were afforded some legal protection, as only those cultured or incidentally caught could be traded legally. A target fishery for the aquarium trade nonetheless existed. Most seahorses traded dried, however, were caught incidentally in the country’s shrimp trawl fisheries. Dried seahorses were both traded domestically as curios and exported, most likely for use in TCM, to Japan, Hong Kong, Mainland China and the USA. Domestic consumption for curios was estimated to total 6,600 to 8,100 seahorses annually (20-24 kg). Exports of dried seahorses in Mexico apparently began in response to demand from the international market. Dried seahorse exports to Japan from the Pacific coast between 1985 and 1995 may have totaled 2,500 kg per annum. In addition, from 1990 onwards shark fin traders on the Caribbean coast exported unknown numbers of seahorses to Japan. Official records indicate that by the late-1990s, Mexico was also exporting 23-140 kg dried seahorses to Hong Kong and the United States each year. Mexico also exported over 7,600 kg of dried seahorses in 2000 to Mainland China. Live seahorses traded as aquarium fish were caught illegally on the Pacific coast or captive-bred in two aquaculture ventures. Most were traded domestically, but several hundred were exported each year to the USA. Several thousand live seahorses were also imported from the Philippines, Indonesia, Hawaii, Fiji, and Brazil per annum. In total, an estimated 8,200 – 14,600 seahorses were consumed annually by Mexico’s aquarium trade. Dried and live pipefish were also traded in Mexico. Dried pipefish were traded domestically on Mexico’s Caribbean coast, and may also have been exported from there. Both locally caught freshwater pipefish and imported saltwater pipefish were traded domestically as ornamental fishes.

Baum, J.K. & A.C.J. Vincent (2011). Seahorse trade in Mexico. p. 57-77. In: Vincent, A.C.J., Giles, B.G., Czembor, C.A. and Foster, S.J. (eds.). Trade in seahorses and other syngnathids in countries outside Asia (1998-2001). Fisheries Centre Research Reports 19(1). Fisheries Centre, The University of British Columbia [ISSN 1198-6727].