The use of cyanide to catch marine fish for the aquarium & live fish food industries started in the 1960s. It became widespread in the following decades and by the 1990s many governments had made fishing using cyanide illegal. Fishers dissolved cyanide in bottles to be sprayed into coral reef crevices or drop it to the seabed in drums. Both methods stun the fish which are then easier to catch. This illegal practice is also used to catch live fish for food and can harm the fish, the fishers and coral reefs.
Due to the nature of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, it is difficult to say how widespread this practice is today.
It mainly occurs in the Coral Triangle – an area stretching from Malaysia and the Philippines, to Indonesia and the Solomon Islands, known to have the highest diversity of coral building reefs and coral reef fishes anywhere in the world.
The legitimate trade which sell or display wild caught marine fish want to stamp out this illegal practice. They work hard to ensure their supplies of marine fish are sourced legally and sustainably. Businesses have also established and promoted initiatives for local fishers within the Coral Triangle to improve welfare standards and promote safe and sustainable capture methods.
1 For the first time in 10 years the available scientific evidence has been brought together and examined by an independent UK Government organisation.
2 There is now a clear understanding of the issues to be tackled to create a validated cyanide detection test and how they can be overcome.
3 Cefas has identified thiocyanate as the best indicator of cyanide exposure currently available. giving researchers a clear idea of what to measure when they create a test. Other indicators that need further scientific research have also been suggested.
4 There’s been an independent examination of the tests currently available to determine which are the most robust, reliable and repeatable to give accurate, consistent results.
5 There’s a clear set of independent recommendations about the next steps that need to happen to make progress.