Sea Anemone - Exploitation

Exploitation

The global trade of marine ornamentals has been a rapidly expanding industry involving numerous countries worldwide. In the early 1980s, the estimated value of imported marine fish and invertebrates was US$24–40 million annually. Current estimates place that value at US$200–330 million, with the United States accounting for 80% of the industry imports. Despite advances and the expansion of aquaculture, post-larval capture and rearing, the majority of marine ornamentals are collected in the wild as adults or juveniles.

Anemones are susceptible to overexploitation due to their long life spans, slower relative growth rates, and lower reproductive rates than their resident fish, which are also affected due to the fact that they settle exclusively and are restricted to specific host sea anemones. The demand for these organisms is reflected in fishermen's catch records, which document the value they are paid per catch, and on average sea anemones were valued at five times the average value of anemonefish, and ten times the value of the most abundant anemonefish, and in fact only made up 4.1% of the total value of the catch.

Research has shown that aquarium fishing activities significantly impact the populations of anemones and anemonefish by drastically reducing the densities of each in exploited areas, and could also negatively impact anemone shrimp, and any organisms obligately associated with sea anemones. It should be noted that anemonefish can survive alone in captivity, as has been shown by multiple research efforts.

In southern Italy and southwestern Spain the anemone Anemonia sulcata is consumed as a delicacy. The whole animal is marinated in vinegar, then coated in a tempura-like batter and deep-fried in olive oil. They are similar in appearance and texture to croquettes, but have an intense seafood taste.

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