Establishment of the Corals Aquarists Research Network (Carn). Promote sustainable practices.

Lead Research Organisation: University of Essex
Department Name: Biological Sciences


Abstracts are not currently available in GtR for all funded research. This is normally because the abstract was not required at the time of proposal submission, but may be because it included sensitive information such as personal details.

Planned Impact

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decrease its level of dependence on expensive imports (upto 80% dependency on
imported corals1) thereby increasing its overall economic viability. Within-country
propagation via environmentally-minded but research-led husbandry has economic
and environmental sense. The desire of natural resource based industries to be
directly engaged with research and conservation is extremely high. Well promoted
engagement activities can greatly enhance the public’s image of an industry. The
importance of the public’s perception of aquarium industry activities is increasing
since by its very nature it deals with an environmentally aware customer base.
The direct economic benefits identified herein are clear as is the potential for further
ideas to emerge. However, as enhancing economic performance is key to the
proposed Fellowship, it is extremely important that such performance is carefully
monitored through transparent, robust and sensitive criteria that will enable project
success to be audited but also allow adaptive strategies to be implemented over the
lifetime of the project. Consequently, one of the key objectives of the Fellowship is to
develop appropriate Economic Performance Criteria (EPC). It is possible to identify
EPC at this proposal stage (detailed in the table towards the end of this section), but
again it is expected that new EPC will be identified through the KE process and,
although EPC defined herein will form a key component of success criteria, the
Fellowship will not exclude new emergent EPC identified through the network.
It will only be possible to initially identify industry-wide economic benefits in some
cases; as such, the performance of a sample of the industry through representatives
that form the ‘executive committee’ will be directly assessed through the EPC
objective and disseminated to other members of CARN through the web resource,
open meetings and conferences. EPC will be assessed as often as possible but the
specific milestones of EPC reporting will be months 15-18 and 33-36 following, and
as specific outcomes of, the proposed workshops. A large number of potential EPC
have been identified but it is expected that one of the outcomes of the Fellowship will
be a streamlined suite of EPC that are most efficient, effective, sensitive and robust at
assessing the economic performance of the industry, in particular once the network
between the KE and industry representatives is established.
Importantly, the performance of the direct economic activities (as assessed through
the EPC objective) will yield the true economic impact of this KE proposal and all
partners will provide the relevant data associated to their markets. Whilst we have
several obvious measures of potential economic impact (Perceived Economic
Benefits), it is clear that not all of the proposed KE activities may result in immediate
economic returns (within the lifetime of the project); therefore, establishing CARN is
seen as a longer term economic strategy, by stimulating market growth of the aquaria
industry through diversification and by employing more efficient and sustainable coral
growth practices.
Many of the economic impacts are derived from the ability to increase the yield of
coral material from husbandry practices and the associated increased use of
sustainable harvesting of coral material. Certainly, opportunities exist for conservation
researchers (from different disciplines) to engage with coral importers from the UK
and exporters and suppliers of coral wild types from “source” countries to identify
ways in which import of species can be made more environmentally and economically
sustainable (as much as 30% of coral is lost during import with additional mortality
from excess harvesting to sustain economically viable imports costs1). However, the
immediate and direct economic impacts reflect application of research driven
technology and intellectual property of coral researchers to improve maintenance and
growth yield of desirable coral species (for examples see section 9 from University of
Essex). Whilst these have direct economic benefits to the aquarists, through reduced
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dependency upon suppliers, it is also proposed that these economic benefits would
ultimately be passed to the secondary markets (that will also form part of CARN) that
then require this material, such as academia and associated bio-product industries.
Similarly, increasing species and intraspecific phenotypic diversity of corals (and
identifying the most efficient growth conditions) available to aquarists will inevitably
increase the market growth of the industry with obvious economic benefits to the
already identified secondary markets. Furthermore, expansion of available materials
coupled with new partnerships that make possible the use of existing facilities will
increase the complexity of scientific questions that can be addressed at much
reduced costs to researchers and, in turn, the funding agencies.
Finally, increased market growth of the aquaria industry has additional important
economic impacts as a direct result of KE from research activities. In particular, coral
reef science is charismatic and is a key vehicle to increase public understanding of
science and its engagement with major conservation issues such as climate change.
Use of KE will be pivotal here; for example, applying research to implement additional
displays that carefully control climates to reproduce ‘future climate change scenarios’
will be extremely powerful in addressing the public perception of how future coral
reefs will appear and therefore the threats of climate change to earths ecosystems.
Other PUS-based activities will be explored through the ‘executive stakeholders’;
however, it is important to realise that KE can be linked to PUS and such connectivity
will increase the (long term) economic success of the proposed Fellowship.


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