From now on, we wish to inform you on an irregular basis about the current situation of our Workgroup through Newsletters such as this. Why irregularly? Very simple: we believe it to be reasonable to deliver news whence they appear, which would not be possible in a regular framework.
During the Interzoo in Nuremberg, I had the opportunity to talk about the future of the pleco export with some Brazilian exporters. I got some pleasant, but also some unpleasant information. It is definitely pleasant that it appears that a new Whitelist is indeed facing publication. This publication is currently delayed due a strike of IBAMA in Brazil that already lasts several weeks. The new Whitelist will then be augmented by some loricariid catfishes. On the other hand, I am expecting that we might face limitations within some genera which had been allowed for export as a whole (Ancistrus, Baryancistrus, Peckoltia might serve as examples). This expectation is based on the information that these genus-wide allowances will probably be replaced by a specific listing of allowed species. Most probably, the Whitelist will be supplemented by species from the Río Xingú. The IBAMA intended to estimate the currently existing populations prior to allowing the export, and such an estimation has presently only been carried out for the Xingú. Additional surveys will then be done also for the Tapajos, Tocantins and other rivers sometime in the future. This is, however, dreams of the future, and therefore it is unlikely that fishes from river systems other than the Río Xingú will be allowed for export soon.
It should be kept in mind, however, that all these considerations about the new Whitelist must be considered as speculations until its actual publication. We will therefore have to wait and see whether the information I obtained in advance will prove to be accurate.
Unfortunately, it appears that the building of the giant dam at the lower Río Xingú in Brazil is now unstoppable. The administration signaled that it intends to realize this project at all costs and therefore, unless a miracle happens, the construction will begin in due course. Certainly, it will take several years for this construction to be finished. But we are facing the risk that through this destruction of their habitats species like Hypancistrus zebra (L046), Hypancistrus sp. (L066), Hypancistrus sp. (L399/L400) and countless more L-Plecos will disappear in Nature. This should be an additional stimulation for us to continue monitoring also species that might be allowed for export again (like L 66), since their supply as exports will then likely be limited.
All in all we have to conclude that the necessity to continue the efforts to preserve some species for the hobby is more urgent than ever. I am seriously afraid that, despite a new Whitelist, the number of available species will continue to drop. Therefore, also your cooperation is more important than ever.
During the first weekend of March, Andreas Tanke and I attended the annual convention of the Catfish Study Group in England and had the opportunity to discuss a closer cooperation of Planetcatfish and the Workgroup with Julian Dignall. Jools already alluded to a possible cooperation during the L-Numbers Days in Hannover. Now, we had the chance to continue these discussions. We would like to use this platform to more closely include international participants into the Workgroup. Facing the probably growing list of species threatened with disappearance from the hobby, a global effort is the most promising approach to this problem. We are expecting the implementation of a section for the AG L-Welse within Planetcatfish and will then inform you separately about related news.
Through our efforts to monitor populations we already succeeded in assembling several potential breeding groups and mediating contacts for a number of rare species. We are now also having a decent overview over which species are available in the hobby and what their respective status is. Please continue to frequently report your populations, such that we have an overview as current as possible. This would benefit all participants.
The AG L-Welse is an open group dedicated to the structured propagation of l-number plecos in captivity. The purpose of this forum, specifically, is to provide a "without borders" internet forum for discussion of the groups activities and it's interaction with the worlds largest catfish keeping, and breeding community here at PlanetCatfish.com. Language could be a barrier to this enterprise and so we need a lowest common denominator. English is the language of the internet, and it is the one we use here.
Although born in Germany, like the l-numbers it seeks to protect, the AG Welse is truly international in its reach and the synergies with PlanetCatfish.com are many. Sandor (Borbi) will moderate this forum and also assist in translating content into English should it be required.