Fifty-five freshwater conservation biologists, research scientists, and specialists from zoos and aquariums, drawn from 21 countries, took part recently in the fourth International Zoo and Aquarium Symposium entitled "Global Freshwater Fish: linking in situ and ex-situ actions.” The meeting was hosted by Chester Zoo, in the northwest of England, and was held in conjunction with the 7th Annual Meeting of the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Species Survival Commission/Wetlands International Freshwater Fish Specialist Group.
The meeting provided an unprecedented opportunity for this diverse mix of specialists to combine their skills to promote conservation of freshwater fish in their habitats; and to develop projects at public aquaria that can raise awareness and financial support for conservation, as well as offering direct assistance through breeding programs.
Specific projects will be identified for priority species in a number of regions globally. These will link conservation within the species’ natural range and other mechanisms like captive-breeding elsewhere, with the overall aim being to increase the numbers of such fish.
Professor Gordon McGregor Reid, Chair of the Freshwater Fish Specialist Group and Immediate Past President of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums, stressed the important role that zoos and aquariums can play. "Each year, more than 700 million people visit zoos and aquariums worldwide--a bigger attendance than at football games. Because of this, zoos and aquariums give $350 million annually directly to field projects.
What we need to know is how to take the most effective actions, in the most important areas."
The participants affirmed the highly significant role of zoos and aquariums in supporting the conservation of wild populations of fish, along with captive-breeding and raising awareness of conservation issues in the public’s mind.
Up Next Blog: Part 2, in which Dr. Simon Stuart, chair of the IUCN Species Survival Commission, discusses the need for habitat conservation.
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