Environmental Management

, Volume 61, Issue 4, pp 661–670 | Cite as

Aquarium Trade Supply-Chain Losses of Marine Invertebrates Originating from Papua New Guinea

  • Thane A. Militz
  • Jeff Kinch
  • Paul C. Southgate


A major difficulty in managing live organism wildlife trade is often the reliance on trade data to monitor exploitation of wild populations. Harvested organisms that die or are discarded before a point of sale are regularly not reported. For the global marine aquarium trade, identifying supply-chain losses is necessary to more accurately assess exploitation from trade data. We examined quality control rejections and mortality of marine invertebrates (Asteroidea, Gastropoda, Malacostraca, Ophiuroidea) moving through the Papua New Guinea marine aquarium supply-chain, from fisher to importer. Utilizing catch invoices and exporter mortality records we determined that, over a 160 day period, 38.6% of the total invertebrate catch (n = 13,299 individuals) was lost before export. Supply-chain losses were divided among invertebrates rejected in the quality control process (11.5%) and mortality of the accepted catch in transit to, and during holding at, an export facility (30.6%). A further 0.3% died during international transit to importers. We quantified supply-chain losses for the ten most fished species which accounted for 96.4% of the catch. Quality control rejections (n= 1533) were primarily explained by rejections of oversized invertebrates (83.2% of rejections). We suggest that enforceable size limits on species prone to size-based rejections and elimination of village-based holding of invertebrates would reduce losses along the Papua New Guinea supply-chain. This case study underscores that low mortality during international transit may mask large losses along supply-chains prior to export and exemplifies the limitations of trade data to accurately monitor exploitation.


Coral reefs Aquarium fishery Mortality Quality control Wildlife trade Management 



This study was supported by the Australian Center for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and the National Fisheries Authority (NFA) as part of ACIAR project FIS/2010/054 “Mariculture Development in New Ireland, Papua New Guinea” led by Paul C. Southgate at the University of the Sunshine Coast. We are particularly grateful to NFA staff for facilitating provision of catch, facility, and export records, and historical documentation of the PNG marine aquarium fishery. We also thank the reviewers and editors who made valuable contributions to this manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

267_2018_1006_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (25 kb)
Supplementary Fig A1


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Australian Centre for Pacific Islands Research and Faculty of Science, Health, Education and EngineeringUniversity of the Sunshine CoastMaroochydoreAustralia
  2. 2.National Fisheries CollegeNational Fisheries AuthorityKaviengPapua New Guinea

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