James J. White Memorial Conservation Fund

The NEC James J. White Memorial Conservation Fund

To quote Janne Ekstrøm's article in AMAZONAS 31, September/Oktober 2010, Seite 8–12,

"We, the humanity on Earth, have only two choices: We either stand back and watch when our beautiful planet turns into dust or we act and do something about the problem before it’s too late."

The NEC Conservation Committee was established to help conservation efforts through fundraising and donations to well-established and working conservation groups.  For several years now the Committee has hosted a silent auction at the Annual NEC Convention to benefit organizations that are involved in conservation.

The History of James J. White Memorial Conservation Fund

Jim passed away suddenly on August 3, 2010 at the young age of 46. He was a long time member of the Pioneer Valley Aquarium Society and served as auctioneer at many of his sister club auctions. We miss him greatly.

Jim was active in the Northeast Council of Aquarium Societies for many years, working first for PVAS and in the last 14 years with the NEC as well. Jim was also very involved in breeding fish, bringing fish to other club auctions and participating in the NEC Breeder Participation Program.

Jim’s dedication to the NEC was fierce and he wore many hats. First he served as PVAS’s delegate and he went on to serve as a BOD member (since 1998) and Vice President of the NEC for several 2-year terms. He was a consistent volunteer at our annual Convention, running the fish room during the Sunday auction, being a runner and auction feeder; as he honed his auctioneering skills he became the main auctioneer for the NEC and all the NEC Clubs. For many years Jim chaired the Competitive Events Committee and ran the Photo Contest. Recently he organized the Conservation Committee’s efforts to raise money for fish-related conservation efforts around the world.

Jim worked for the benefit of the aquarium hobby, clubs and the NEC, both in the background as well as in the spotlight. His efforts were highlighted in 2005 when he was awarded the NEC’s highest honor, the Betty Mueller Award. Jim represented the NEC well and his adorable face and dedication to the aquarium hobby will be sadly missed throughout the clubs in the Northeast.

The NEC honors the dedication that Jim had for the Conservation Committee’s efforts by renaming the fund as the James J. White Memorial Conservation Fund.

This year, the conservation recipient is


IUCN Freshwater Fish Specialist Group’s Home Aquarium Fish Sub-Group (HAFSG)


For decades home aquarium fish have been collected from regions of biological importance across the globe. The vast majority of the organisms in the home aquarium trade are represented by freshwater species (90 percent). The home aquarium fish trade is a large international market responsible for hundreds of millions of dollars annually in revenue for businesses. Although the majority of freshwater aquarium specimens are captive cultured, there are still fishing communities residing in areas of biological importance that capture and export fishes for the global trade. These fisheries are a powerful driver of the local economies and environmental protectionism in regions where their collection takes place. These fisheries face many pressing issues, including:

• Market competition from Ex-situ fish farms
• Public perception pressure on the industry to shift to captive bred stock
• Decline in recruitment of new fish hobbyists and a disconnection with millennials
• Increasing regulations on the importation of wild captured fishes
• The need to implement Best Handling Practices for wild caught fishes to maximize value and market competitiveness and minimize fish stress
• The need to develop marketing framework to highlight socioeconomic and environmental benefits of wild caught fishes
• The need for solutions that benefit the environment to address unsustainable or destructive practices
• The need to establish fair and equitable distribution of economic benefits

Enacting best practices for the capture and export of these fish can provide effective incentives for communities and workers to fend off other industries and practices that degrade the environment upon which the fish depend, resulting in protection for not only the target species but the entire ecosystem. Many of these regions that contain marketable species, as well as other species that may be threatened according to IUCN Red List, are, in effect, Protected Areas, as a result of resident-based stewardship. In important instances in developing countries, the home aquarium trade has become an effective instrument for poverty alleviation, preservation of remaining areas of biological importance and critically endangered species, and preserving these areas from destructive development.

The HAFSG is composed of a Steering Committee and Advisory, composed of stakeholders the IUCN’s Specialist Groups and partnering NGO’s, leaders in the home aquarium industry, and the public aquarium and zoo community. Science-based findings towards conservation objectives are conveyed via zoos, aquariums and other outlets in a harmonized strategy with commercial partners to achieve shared goals.

With this in mind, the HAFSG has been created with several goals, which include:

• To identify, validate, and promote the conservation and wise management of wild populations of tropical fishes that are part of the home aquarium trade, as well as the ecosystems where they are found
• To support sustainable, socioeconomic, and environmental benefits for home aquarium fishing communities, especially living in regions of biological importance
• To develop and implement solutions that result in the most robust market for home aquarium fish that result in environmental protectionism, poverty alleviation, and climate stability.

More information can be found at http://www.iucnffsg.org/about-ffsg/home-aquarium-fish-sub-group/ 


Many thanks to the following hobbyists for making a donation to the JJW Memorial Conservation Fund:

Steve Edie

Leslie Dick

Barbara Romeo

Home hobbyists who donate
fish to the silent auction



The James J White Memorial Conservation Fund in action

Our conservation fund has supported the following organizations:

2001    American Cichlid Association’s Paul V. Loiselle Conservation Fund
2002    Project Piaba
2003    Pupfish of Southwest US
2004    Fish Ark Mexico
2005    American Killifish Association’s George Maier Fund
2006    CARES Preservation Program
2007    Project Amazonas
2008    Project Piaba
2009    Conservation Fisheries
2010    Project Amazonas
2011    International Rivers, American Livebearer Association’s Langhammer Fund for Conservation, and the Stuart M. Grant Cichlid Conservation Fund
2012    CARES Preservation Program and Center for Research in Global Change and Sustainability
2013    Indonesian Marine Ornamental Symposium (LINI) and Conservation Aquariums in the Classroom
2014    The Goodeid Working Group (GWG) and Project Seahorse
2015     Conservation International and Ozalul (Innovation for Marine Conservation)
2016     The Congo Project (American Museum of Natural History) and The Nature Conservancy
2017      Project Piaba and Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation (BREEF)
2018     The Ocean Foundation "Sawfish Mating Project" and Coral Restoration Fund

Updates on past conservation recipients

Stuart S. Grant Cichlid Conservation Fund Update:


The Goodeid Working Group:

plans to put the funding to use over the next six months. Our goals are to

1) Provide material and technical support for the conservation of rare goodeids in captivity and in the wild by the Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolas Hidalgo in Morelia, Mexico; and

2) Help pay costs associated with bringing new populations of rare goodeids into the U.S. and distributing them to serious hobbyists and public aquaria/zoos for long-term captive maintenance.