Being in the desert, our prices have always been somewhat higher than other places. So the $20 price mentioned in the article is somewhat of a dream. A $50 price is more the norm here. I paid $45 for the one I have in my tank now about 6 years ago. If prices really are going to be what the article suggests they are going to be I would never be able to replace the fish when it eventually dies. The fish is not endangered in the wild and the trade has been responsible but regulation has continued to get tighter.
We can expect to see this trend continue and the price of our hobby to increase. We can also expect to see many of our local fish stores go out of business as a result. Though there are now captive bred yellow tang the cost of those has traditionally been twice that of wild caught. As methods and practices improve this price may drop, but I think we are still a number of years off from this.
From this point on, captive breeding of fish, and captive propagation of corals, is the future of our hobby.
There isn’t much we can do about it to be frank. We don’t live in, and therefore have little pull, in the places where these laws are being passed. The law that impacts the price of tangs is from Hawaii, passed locally. The industry in Hawaii itself wasn’t able to stop it. Even though they contribute greatly to that state’s economy.
What we can do is support captive breeding where possible, and captive propagation of corals. In terms of the hobby, there are reasons we might not like this. Some corals don’t do as well and some fish become less hardy through breeding efforts. Those in the freshwater hobby have seen this happen with many species over the years.
For now, support your local shops, post online, write letters where you can, and be as responsible as possible with the livestock you do have. Our tanks, in many ways, must become arks to save the species we love to keep and local clubs are the key.