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Shedd Aquarium and Partners Secure Grant Funding to Advance Aquatic Animal Sustainability Efforts

New research, guidelines and public outreach will center animal and community wellbeing

October 29, 2023

A group of golden trevally fish swim in the Wild Reef.

CHICAGO Shedd Aquarium and several partner organizations have been awarded a $700,000 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to investigate more transparent means of supporting fishing communities who sustainably supply aquariums with fishes from abundant sources in Indonesia for lifelong care in zoos and aquariums. The aquarium will work with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), the Coral Reef Aquarium Fisheries Campaign and Indonesian-based nonprofit partners at LINI and Rare to create a roadmap that accredited facilities can replicate and scale that prioritizes ecological conservation, ensures wellbeing for animals and people alike and follows rigorous and informed governance. The program, called IndoReefFish, is one of several ways Shedd and the aquarium community are making progress toward a shared goal of sustainability for aquatic animal populations in human care for future generations.

Many zoos and aquariums rely on fishing communities to maintain healthy, genetically diverse populations of aquatic fish and invertebrates in human care. This grant funding will allow the aquarium community to work with suppliers to further improve supply chains while continuing to sustain coastal communities around the globe that rely on fishing as a means of livelihood and way of life. By working directly with governments and local leaders in fishing communities, aquariums can contribute to sustainable, small-scale and co-managed coastal fisheries that promote climate, social and economic resilience.

“Accredited aquariums and zoos have long sought out and worked with suppliers who can guarantee that we do not contribute to the problems we are trying to solve for wild aquatic populations,” said Peggy Sloan, chief animal conservation officer at Shedd Aquarium. “Support from IMLS will amplify the thoughtful trainings and collaboration with local fisheries that are already happening to center animal wellbeing and ecological preservation.”

Grant funding from IMLS will accelerate existing work to move fishers from a volume-driven approach to one that is focused on value – sharing and applying the best husbandry, management and care techniques across the supply chain. At the same time, partners will use data to determine what species are prolific and resilient to overfishing (ideal candidates for fishing), curbing demand away from species that are more vulnerable or threatened.

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