On August 6th, I spoke at the first in-person meeting the Colorado Aquarium Society has had in a while due to covid. I did end up having to shout since we were all wearing masks, but overall it was a pretty fun experience!
I have been thinking of giving the presentation again and setting it up specifically to be shown on Instagram and I would love to hear your thoughts. The presentation was about the importance of freshwater fish outside of the hobby. Obviously there are many reasons to love freshwater fish, as they are some of the most beautiful and diverse animals on this planet. However if we want the conservation effort to be successful, we have to involve all parties. That includes everything from governments to scientists to hobbyists to locals. In other words, conservation is a complex system.
At the top are the governments that make the laws. Governments are at the highest level, and control what all other entities are allowed to do with species, and how they get managed. However they are often removed from the effort and make policy decisions based off of what information they have. This information may not always be up to date, which can lead to other problems down the line. They also determine where dams should be built, and can influence the level of pollution and waste management in an area. They are a key factor.
Societal norms and cultures are a different level. In many places, beloved aquarium fish are actually consumption items and are killed for food. More of a concern here is pollution from societies that makes it's way into the waterways. They are also a key part of the conservation effort.
Scientists are a key part as well. They are able to provide information to the governments and inform conservation efforts. However they are stretched quite thin, so it's important for the hobbyists to help and for the governments to support the effort when they can. Even individuals can contribute by using the FIN program or supporting groups like Mikolji which do independent research and often partner with other organizations to research fish.
Lastly are the hobbyists. Many of these people are breeding endangered species and conducting vital research in their basements. Keep going!
The key link between all of these is that there is no easy connection between them. That's what Lily Ichthyology is trying to build the database for! So that all of these different groups can connect with each other and avoid duplicating efforts and make information sharing easier. What do you think is the best way to get people to engage with freshwater fish?