Initiating resource enhancement of seahorses: A case study at Sagay marine reserve in central Philippines
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Seahorses (Hippocampus spp.) are commonly found in tropical coral reefs as well as in lagoons and estuaries, and are highly exploited for their high price, resulting in the listing of these seahorses in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). In fact, all seahorses are among the first marine fishes of commercial importance to be listed in both the IUCN and Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) to ensure their sustainable utilization. In promoting the protection and sustainability of this resource, efforts have been made worldwide for their conservation through stock enhancement by releasing captive-bred or captive-held seahorses. The SEAFDEC Aquaculture Department (AQD) with support from the Japanese Trust Fund through the project ‘Resource Enhancement of Internationally Threatened and Over-exploited Species in Southeast Asia through Stock Release,’ has been working on the resource enhancement of seahorses primarily by developing appropriate release and monitoring strategies, and enhancing the involvement of concerned communities in the management of the natural as well as the restocked seahorses.