The International Federation of Online Clubs and Aquatic Societies     

   I Focas

THE organization dedicated  to the promotion of the fishkeeping hobby worldwide


.....Welcome to IFOCAS. It is now 2019, our 19th birthday. We have a membership group for every fishkeeper, group, business and aquarist, whether individual or commercial.........If fishkeeping is your speciality then we are  sure you will find something of interest to you on our site. All  world directories of clubs and aquatic bodies are just one click  away, but while you are here why not join us - it's really  easy.... There has been a slight delay in uplisting new members details recently due to the sheer volume of new members - but do not worry - if you have received your entry codes you are a member even if the public listing is a little delayed

MEMBERSHIP UPDATE!  January 2019. IFOCAS now has over 7,000 aquarist members in over 1,500 organizations spanning over 29 countries and is globally the largest and most influential hobbyist fish group. .













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Certification for Quality and Sustainability
in the Collection, Culture and Commerce of Marine Ornamentals



International Certification for the Quality and Sustainability
of Marine Aquarium Organisms … from Reef to Retail

MAC News 1st Quarter 

Director's Note

While the bulk of MAC operational work is currently focused on working with collectors and their communities to increase the supply of MAC Certified marine ornamentals coming from managed reef areas, developing the demand side is also key to promoting a sustainable marine aquarium trade and hobby. Private, public and corporate aquarists concerned about the future of the hobby and the coral reefs and communities of collectors who supply the trade recognize their important role and are working to educate others about it.

In covering the Marine Ornamentals '04 conference for the Advanced Aquarist's Online Magazine, Doug Robbins notes, ' It is imperative that hobbyists demand healthy organisms that have a chance to live for a substantial period in their tanks and to put their money where their mouths are by being willing to pay a premium for such specimens. We must support our best providers-the conscientious collectors and risk-taking mariculturists.' Earlier in the same piece he says, 'Whatever the exact average mortality figures may be, even if they turn out to be somewhat lower [than the reported 30 to 60 percent], they are clearly unacceptable. MAC's solution is to work to establish 'standards and procedures' for each link in the chain to reduce mortality and to use a certification process to encourage participation. Ultimately choices will have to be made by hobbyists to support these efforts by insisting on livestock captured and moved by acceptable standards….'

Robert Tess, a Marine Aquarium Societies of North America (MASNA) board member, shared similar thoughts in the Winter 2004 issue of Marine Scene: 'Whether it's supporting organizations like CITES and MAC, demanding net caught fish, buying aqua-cultured corals or even just trading frags to newbies, every aquarist bears the responsibility for reef and marine life preservation.'

Hobbyist preferences for healthy organisms caught with non-destructive methods from managed fisheries will drive retailers to seek and support responsible collectors and wholesalers. This in turn will help conserve coral reefs, sustain the trade and ensure the health of the marine aquarium organisms that are moving … from Reef to Retail and into your aquarium!

MAC-Industry Partnership: Training for Post-Harvest Quality Control in Indonesia

The MAC regional office in Indonesia conducted training in post-harvest quality control for 20 fishermen in Tejakula sub-district, north Bali, in February. The fishermen, who represented fishermen's associations from the villages of Les and Tembok, improved their understanding of how to reduce stress in fish during collection, holding, packing and transport through the training provided by MAC and marine biologist (and Amblard employee) Vincent Chalias. Best practices in screening, stock rejection and purging were also covered. Illustrated handouts helped the participants understand issues during classroom discussion, which was followed by a practical session in the screening and packing area. While the professional marine ornamental fishermen who participated in the training have been collecting fish for most of their lives, they had been interested in assistance to ensure they are handling the fish carefully and effectively. A second training session is tentatively scheduled for early May for another group of fishermen in north Bali.

Tonga to Host MAC Certification Multi-Stakeholder Meeting

In February, two MAC Pacific staff visited Tonga to introduce MAC Certification to industry representatives, government ministers and other stakeholders of the marine aquarium trade. Keen interest was shown, and the visit was welcomed as a timely one. The Minister of Lands, Survey and Natural Resources, Hon. Fielakepa, offered his ministry's full support in co-hosting a multi-stakeholder workshop together with the Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture. The Ministry of Lands, Survey and Natural Resources has the responsibility over the harvesting of corals.

'Tonga's marine aquarium industry has been around for a long time to become a major export of Tonga, and we would like to ensure it is done sustainably, said Hon Dr. Giulio Masasso T. Paunga, the Kingdom's Minister of Labour, Commerce, Industry and Tourism.

Hawaii Industry Begins Pre-Certification Work

In mid February, MAC hosted the first industry meeting for representatives from the Hawaii marine aquarium trade who have signed up to seek MAC Certification. A work plan and timetable for pre-certification activities was discussed and agreed upon at the Kailua-Kona meeting on the Big Island. For more on MAC work on the Big Island, read the project update in the SPC Live Reef Fish Information Bulletin #12, available at

A sustainable marine aquarium trade has the support of the Kailua-Kona community and is likely the most valuable near-shore fishery in the State of Hawaii, according to studies presented at the Marine Ornamentals '04 conference in March by John Parks (Community Conservation Network) and Jan Dierking (University of Hawaii M.S. candidate), respectively.

Expanding Supply Development in the Philippines

During the first quarter of 2004, the MAC Philippines team focused its efforts on identifying sites for certification training and capacity building in 2004, a program that is supported by USAID. Local governments have submitted letters of interest for MAC training in Palawan and Mindanao. For example, the Mayor of Cagayancillo, Palawan, has expressed strong support of the MAC program and assigned his Municipal Agriculture Officer (MAO) to take the lead in organizing the collectors in the area to join the MAC training. In response to these requests, the MAC team conducted a series of field assessments in these areas. Among the criteria considered were the extent of destructive fishing practices, support of local stakeholders, and species variety and abundance.

First MAC Certified Company in France

In January, Amblard Overseas Trading S.A. became the first importer and transshipper to achieve MAC Certification in France. Because MAC receives many questions about transshipment and because Amblard was the first transshipper to be assessed for MAC Certification, the MAC Accredited certifier was careful in its review of the company's compliance to the requirements of Clause 1.8 on Transshipment and Consolidation in the MAC Handling, Husbandry and Transport (HTT) Standard [ ]. For the only official list of MAC Certified facilities, visit the MAC website at

MAC Chemical Detection Testing and Monitoring Program Update

The MAC Board of Directors, at its most recent meeting, reviewed the work undertaken to implement the Chemical Detection Testing (CDT) Action Plan developed by MAC in the first part of 2003. Although the work was delayed due to time needed to prepare the testing facility for these experiments, Phase 1 was undertaken as planned and compared the performance of several CDT protocols and evaluated their applicability in supply countries and in collection areas (for example, the portability of the equipment and applicability of the procedures to field conditions). Phase 1 also considered alternative sample preparation methods, analysis protocols, and test apparatus and instruments.

Initial tests were undertaken in July 2003 in the CDT laboratories of Philippines Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), Quezon City, Manila. The tests revealed inconsistent correlations between cyanide exposure and quantity of cyanide detected in the fish samples following exposure. The use of CDT in relation to marine ornamental fisheries is complicated by numerous variables in the detection test, in the exposure parameters, in the fish characteristics and in the source of the chemical (click here to see Figure 1: Variables Relating to the Presence of Cyanide in the Marine Environment). Consequently, additional tests were conducted to evaluate the correlations in more controlled conditions that removed as many of the variables as possible.

The Phase 1a tests were again organized by BFAR and undertaken in their laboratory in Quezon City, Manila, by a team of their staff members and those from Merck & Co., Inc. Although the tests showed that all methods could detect presences of cyanide, no apparent correlation existed between a controlled level of cyanide exposure and the quantity of cyanide detected in fish samples following exposure. To ensure that the results are valid as a basis for further development of a CDT system, the MAC Board has agreed that the tests should be repeated and peer-reviewed by a third-party laboratory outside of the Philippines. This work is now being organized and will be conducted in a major university laboratory with experience in chemical detection and analysis.

The MAC Board also reviewed a draft MAC CDT Monitoring Program that defines the procedure for obtaining CDT samples from MAC Certified collectors and exporters and describes the actions to be taken if a MAC approved test method indicates the presence of a chemical such as cyanide within a fish from a MAC Certified collection area. The Board agreed to have the draft program peer reviewed. Those persons interested in being on the review panel should send a brief (no more than one page) resumé of their experience and expertise in this issue to It is hoped that the MAC CDT Monitoring Program will be finalized and operational in mid 2004.

MAC Staff Changes: Americas and Pacific Director

David Vosseler, MAC Americas and Pacific Director, will be moving on to other pursuits, following his significant contributions to MAC in its formative years. David was instrumental in coordinating the complex international multi-stakeholder process of developing the MAC Standards. Following the successful launch of MAC Certification, David led MAC efforts with the industry in North America that has resulted in three importers and seven retailers becoming MAC Certified. He was the point person for MAC at US trade shows, as well as at hobbyist conferences, the US Coral Reef Task Force and elsewhere. In addition, over the last year he has overseen MAC efforts in the Pacific that are now bringing new MAC Certified supply on line from Fiji and soon in several other areas. David's input on the development of MAC's field extension system and the development of facility-support software were invaluable. David continues to be a strong supporter for MAC, noting that 'MAC is the single most important coral reef conservation effort underway in the world today.' David has been a core member of the MAC team since the early days, and the staff members at MAC wish him well in his future endeavors.

Fourth MAC Standard to Cover Mariculture and Aquaculture Management

In January 2004, MAC commenced work on its fourth international standard for the marine aquarium industry. As with the other MAC Standards, the Mariculture and Aquaculture Management (MAM) Standard will be produced and reviewed through an international multi-stakeholder and transparent process based upon the inputs from a Standards Advisory Group (SAG). The development process will be steered by a small experts group and the MAC Secretariat (click here to see Figure 2: MAM Standard Development Timeline). It is hoped that certification to the MAC MAM Standard will commence (following a testing phase) in late 2004.

The MAM Standard covers the culturing of both hatchery-reared larvae and wild caught post-larval organisms. The MAC Ecosystem and Fishery Management (EFM) and Collection, Fishing and Holding (CFH) Standards will be amended slightly by the additional requirements to cover the sustainable management of post-larval collection areas and post-larval collection methods, respectively.

Persons interested in participating as a member of the MAM SAG should send their contact details to

MAC Board of Directors for 2004

At its most recent meeting, the MAC Board of Directors elected several new members to fill vacancies and reelected several members to continue on the Board. Although Board members are elected and serve as individuals, the Board seeks to maintain a diversity that represents the scope of stakeholders and geographic areas important to MAC's mission. The Board is composed of up to 15 elected members, a majority of which must be non-industry affiliated. The MAC Board provides overall guidance and oversight to the work of the MAC Secretariat in its activities. The current MAC Board members and the organizations with whom they are affiliated are as follows:

- Bruce Bunting, MAC Board Chair (World Wildlife Fund - US)
- Lolita Ty, MAC Board Vice Chair (Philippine Tropical Fish Export Association)
- Frank Vorhies, MAC Board Vice Chair (Earthwatch - Europe)
- Keith Davenport, MAC Board Treasurer (Ornamental Aquatic Trade Association)
- John Brandt (Marine Aquarium Societies of North America)
- Steven Broad (TRAFFIC International)
- Christopher Buerner (MAC Certified Importer)
- Randolph Goodlett (American Marinelife Dealers Association)
- Rex Horoi (Foundations of the Peoples of the South Pacific)
- Marshall Meyers (Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council)
- Joko Purwanto (AKKII - Indonesia Coral, Shell and Ornamental Fish Association)
- Jan Steffen (UNESCO Southeast Asia and Terangi-Indonesia Coral Reef Foundation)
- Johannes Subijanto (The Nature Conservancy - Indonesia)
- Doug Warmolts (American Zoos and Aquariums Association)

MAC Outreach Efforts

MAC Communications Director Sylvia Spalding provided a presentation on MAC outreach activities to the US Coral Reef Task Force, meeting in February in Washington, DC, and an update on MAC Certification developments to the staff of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The PPT presentations will be posted at and at

At the Marine Ornamentals '04 conference in Honolulu in early March, plenary presentations were delivered by MAC Board Members Marshall Meyers on invasive species and John Brandt on the role of hobbyists and by MAC Executive Director Paul Holthus on the future of the trade. Other MAC staff members chaired a variety of sessions and staffed the MAC booth, where 50 attendees signed up for the MAC News. Sherry Larkin of the University of Florida presented the preliminary results on Hobbyist Preference, which indicates that 51% of hobbyists surveyed are familiar with MAC (see Aquarium Fish magazine hosted the conference reception and has expressed interest in furthering its conservation partnership with MAC.

MAC Americas and the Pacific Director David Vosseler attended the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association (APPMA) show in New Orleans in March. APPMA graciously donated free booth space to MAC. Through venues such as these MAC continues to work with the dry goods sector of the trade to develop ways in which they can support MAC's efforts around the globe.

Certification Update to Be Distributed in May

The new quarterly newsletter Certification Update will be launched in May 2004 (rather than March 2004 as previously announced). The newsletter is designed to assist and support the growing number of MAC Certified companies and collectors groups, those responsible for MAC Certified collection areas (such as Collection Area Management Plan committees) and MAC Accredited certifiers.

Upcoming Events

April 16-18, 2004: 16th Annual Pet Industry Spring Trade Show (Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA) with presentation on MAC Certification by MAC Executive Director Paul Holthus and MAC Certified retailer Patrick Donston and the MAC exhibit booth.

May 13-16: InterZoo 2004 (Nurnberg, Germany)

June 4-6:Second International Marine Aquarium Conference (Chicago, Illinois, USA)

July 18-22: National Marine Educators Association 2004 Conference (St. Petersburg, Florida, USA)

Sept. 9-12: China International Recreation Fisheries and Aquaria 2004 conference (Guangzhou Jinhan Exhibition Center, Beijing, China)

Sept. 10-12: Marine Aquarium Conference of North America XVI (Boston, Massachusetts, USA)

Sept. 22-23: SuperZoo (Las Vegas, Nevada, USA) http://www.wwpsacom/i4a/forms/form.cfm?id=41

Oct. 8-10: Backer's 37th Annual Pet Industry Christmas Trade Show and Educational Conference (Chicago, Illinois, USA)

Dec 5-10: Sixth International Aquarium Congress (Monterey, California, USA)

MAC in the News

'La pêche des poisons de lagon pour aquarium en voie d'être réglementée en Polynésie.' Tahiti Presse. Jan. 1, 2004. [In French]

'Fiji: Company Receives First Pacific MAC Certification.' AquaNews. Jan. 29, 2004.

'Toward MAC certification of Hawaiian Islands collectors: A project update,' by Rezal Kusumaamtmadja, John Parks, Scott Atkinson and Jan Dierking. SPC Live Reef Fish Information Bulletin #12.

'Project update: Developing industry standards for the live reef food fish trade,' by Rezal Kusumaatmadja, Geoffrey Muldoon and Peter Scott. SPC Live Reef Fish Information Bulletin #12.

'Fiji Wake-Up Call,' by Robert Tess Marine Scene. Winter 2004.

'Saving Nemo: aquariums, once water-filled cabinets of curiosities, exert potent economic forces that can foster conservation in the wild,' by Melanie Stiassny. Natural History. March 1, 2004.

'Consumer Corner.' Focus. (WWF members bulletin) March/April 2004.

'Media Review,' by Doug Robbins. Advanced Aquarist's Online Magazine.

'Hobbyists Preferences: Preliminary Internet Survey Results,' by Sherry Larkin, Liliana Alencastro, Charles Jacoby and Robert Degner.

To help improve the flow of information about MAC and respond to concerns that had been posted on the Web, MAC Executive Director Paul Holthus presented an online talk and open forum in mid December at About 40 of the questions submitted by the participants could not be addressed during the allotted time, but were answered and posted online. The responses to the questions can be found at and also, in a condensed version that organizes the questions by topic, in the New Items section of the MAC website at http://www.aquariumcouncil.o