January 25, 2016
Tank Watch App Wins International Award
App aimed to save coral reefs and marine wildlife wins Wildlife Crime Tech Challenge
The mobile app Tank Watch is among the winners in the Wildlife Crime Tech Challenge to tackle wildlife trafficking. The contest is an international initiative by the U.S. Agency for International Development in partnership with the National Geographic Society, the Smithsonian Institution and TRAFFIC. Tank Watch – The Good Fish/Bad Fish Tool for Saltwater Aquariums aims to save fragile reefs and marine wildlife captured for household and small display aquariums worldwide by developing consumer awareness and ultimately reducing demand for wild caught aquarium fish. The app gives global consumers the ability to easily identify popular aquarium species and distinguish coral-reef friendly, captive-bred species, from those caught in the wild, often using harmful practices.
Most people are unaware that 98 percent of the fish seen in saltwater tanks are captured on coral reefs where capture methods can include the illegal use of cyanide as a stunning agent. In Hawaii and other places, capture methods result in a depressurization injury known as barotrauma, followed by organ puncturing to relieve the pressure. Fish often suffer from fin cutting and prolonged starvation during transport.
Further, the aquarium trade removes millions of fish, many of whom are herbivores and responsible for keeping algae levels down, reducing reef resilience to climate change and bleaching events, and compromising the health of the entire reef ecosystem.
For the Fishes, a Hawaii-based conservation group, partnered with animal protection groups, a digital media industry leader and underwater photographers for the creation of Tank Watch. “Without critical support and teamwork from The Humane Society of the United States, Humane Society International, Aysling, and photographers from around the world, Tank Watch and it’s potential to protect tens of millions of coral reef creatures would not be possible today,” said Rene Umberger, executive director of For the Fishes.
Millions of wild reef fish, dominated by about 20 species, are annually imported for U.S. aquarium owners despite the wide availability of dozens of captive-bred species from breeding facilities in the U.S.
“We’ve long urged people to ‘Don’t Buy Wild’ because purchases of wild animals and their parts support the cruel and wasteful trade in wildlife. This app allows consumers to ensure the aquarium fish they may consider purchasing are not removed from the wild,” said Teresa Telecky, director of wildlife at Humane Society International, a Tank Watch sponsor.
Tank Watch for iPhones and iPads can be downloaded for free from the Apple iTunes store and features a number of useful tools and information for reef and wildlife enthusiasts. Features include:
- Up-to-date information with beautiful images to aid in fish ID
- Easy fish ID by color
- Sort by family, common name(s) or scientific name
- Quick access lists for Good Fish, Bad Fish, Fish for Novices and Most Common Bad Fish
- Reef and wildlife-friendly alternatives for conscientious fishkeeping