A juvenile Yellow Tang (Zebrasoma flavescens) remains one of the most popular marine aquarium fish
“The yellow tang is far and away the most important species in the aquarium fishery comprising 73 percent of the total fish catch and 67 percent of the total value, or nearly $1 million. [… ] That equates to 354,000 Big Island yellow tang caught last year. ” – DAR
Mature yellow tangs tend to stay in one area for years, preferring shallow reef flats where algae is more abundant. Tangs can also live for many decades. These characteristics make it possible to foster thriving spawning populations by protecting key areas where breeding adults prefer. And as we all know, aquarists prefer juvenile fish over big adults, so this type of management compliments demand.
If you provide sufficient safe haven for breeding, you see a dramatic increase in population enough to sustain a booming aquarium industry. By banning 35% of Hawai’i’s coastline from aquarium fish collection, tang populations are increasingly rapidly despite the aquarium industry collecting more fish than ever in unprotected zones. This report clearly shows that total bans are not necessary for sustainable collection. Smart management can yield impressive results.
Read the excellent short article in FishLife (published by The Department of Aquatic Resources).