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Breeding for Traditional Chinese Medicine?

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  • Offline TamiW
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Breeding for Traditional Chinese Medicine?

« posted: 4 years ago »
I've been struggling with the idea that there are many thousands of pounds of seahorses that are illegally fished and smuggled into various countries. It's estimated that 20 tonnes of seahorses were illegally poached around the globe. That's roughly 10 million seahorses depending on size that are illegally fished because the legal trade can't meet the demands for seahorses.

I hate the idea of seahorses being used for TCM, but on the other hand, demand is growing, not decreasing. I realize this has been tried by many farms and ultimately failed. However, I also think this is the only way that seahorses are going to keep from being eradicated in the wild is through intensive farming.
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Re: Breeding for Traditional Chinese Medicine?

« Reply #1 posted: 4 years ago »
I really struggle to get my head around this one too.  Its not something that I could ever personally see myself ever doing, but if we take a step outside of the seahorse world, is it really any different to any kind of farmer who is passionate about the species that they breed.

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Re: Breeding for Traditional Chinese Medicine?

« Reply #2 posted: 4 years ago »
i watched a 4 part tv series the other day called seahorse man by keenan doyle in ireland, if you can get to watch this or download it it really is worth watching.
its an insight into how seahorse irelan
  • d started and failed and rose from the ashes, also the chinese medicine trade is broached in some detail although i am not entirely convinced the conclusion is an answer

Re: Breeding for Traditional Chinese Medicine?

« Reply #3 posted: 4 years ago »
I was quite surprised with the documentary.  Reading boards, like this one, lots of people were quite upset about it.  I actually thought it was quite honest.

I know originally Kealan was hoping to help the TCM by supplying with dried seahorses which in turn would reduce the seahorses being taken from the wild.  The problem is that the price of captive raised seahorses is more than the TCM was prepared to pay for them.  That issue hasn't changed from the SI days, I believe.

Personally, I couldn't sell any of my seahorses to the food market but then is it any different to most farmers?  The majority of farmers are very passionate about the species that they raise.

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  • Offline TamiW
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Re: Breeding for Traditional Chinese Medicine?

« Reply #4 posted: 4 years ago »
Interesting you should mention that - I just got the dvd from Seahorse Aquariums. They sent them to me as a thank you for helping them find some pictures for their new project SaveOurSeahorses.org. I haven't watched it yet though - it's on my todo list.
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Re: Breeding for Traditional Chinese Medicine?

« Reply #5 posted: 4 years ago »
If it is illegally caught, then I have a problem with it. If the dead seahorses have CITES, I don't have a problem if it is going towads the TCM trade. While I might not like it, it is still allow. I think I read somewhere that the dead WC ones offers a better balance of the Ying & the Yang whereas the farmed ones where not ***balanced***.

What I do have a problem with is all of these keychain, paperweight, X-mas ornaments being sold on Ebay being shipped internationlly without CITES. Even if they claim that they are FARMED, it still requires CITES if shipped overseas.

Kind Regards,

Tim
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Re: Breeding for Traditional Chinese Medicine?

« Reply #6 posted: 4 years ago »
Yup Tim, I feel the same way. I've been researching a few of these companies and individuals selling dried seahorses, and there seems to be two types - those that are intentionally being deceptive about whether or not they're illegal, and those that don't know and don't care. Actually there is a third type; the legal ones but they're lying about them being farmed. They make the claim that they're farmed, but they're H. erectus and H. zosterae, which isn't being farmed for curios. When asked to supply anything - like supplier or even aquaculture number, they've gotten extremely defensive.
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Re: Breeding for Traditional Chinese Medicine?

« Reply #7 posted: 4 years ago »
TCM  requieres big seahorses, with certain characteristics like a slender body with few or no skin prolongations, etc, and as Tim says the Ying & Yang thing is very important in TCM. All this stuff makes the TCM a very difficult market for CB seahorses.

BUT IMO the main problem is the following: Time vs Price, H.ingens takes at least1.5 years to 2 years to get full size, that means that you need to invert a lot of money and efford to get sizes over 10". AS TCM still has a steady supply of WC seahorses CB seahorse wont be an option for it.

On the other hand, what I found is that here in Mexico and it may be the same for any country in which wild seahorses are present, the people doesnt know and doesnt care about them. It is a very "new" protectected specie that needs a lot of effort to promote its protection, lets remember how much time and effort does it takes to aware the people about the extinction problem that face seaturtles & corals? even with all the effort and time there is still people who is not aware of it.

and by last, there will always be a BIG black market which will do everything to avoid laws and protections for profit. Even with products or animlas that you nay think no body will buy.

« Last Edit: 4 years ago by Timinnl »

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Re: Breeding for Traditional Chinese Medicine?

« Reply #8 posted: 4 years ago »
Interesting you should mention that - I just got the dvd from Seahorse Aquariums. They sent them to me as a thank you for helping them find some pictures for their new project SaveOurSeahorses.org. I haven't watched it yet though - it's on my todo list.
its a must watch if your passionate about seahorses
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Re: Breeding for Traditional Chinese Medicine?

« Reply #9 posted: 4 years ago »
I bet the captive bred/not as good mindset would  be easy to get past. Seahorses are smuggled from all over the world and I suspect no one is asking the source. Therefore I doubt captive bred would really be turned down if it could match the quality.

But grow out would really be tough. To get them to that size at low cost I suspect you'd have to have a giant operation and considerable start up funds to tide you over while you start.  And then do you grow everything in artificial tanks on land,  it do you "finish" them in net pens in the ocean?

I have heard that it is becoming increasingly common for TCM to use crushed up formulations, meaning size and spiky-ness is less important. But I don't know what percentage that makes up of the total demand. And consumption of seahorses has increase did dramatically in the past 30 years, far faster than population growth,  which suggests their use has become a more widespread,  recent phenomenon.

I think I could raise them for TCM. I think it would be tough and I'd be very upset at first (I have a hard time placing my babies bless because I am over protective. ) but I think I'd get over it for the greater good of less seahorses coming from the wild.
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Re: Breeding for Traditional Chinese Medicine?

« Reply #10 posted: 4 years ago »
That was what the asian source were first set up for. To supply the TCM trade, but they found out quickly they can make a higher profit with less man hours selling the sub-par 2 inch ones to the aquarium trade thereby making a lot more money. It cost them $1.00 to produce them to the 2 inch size and they offer it for $7.00 to the wholesalers who in turn offers it to the LFS for $10.00 to $15.00 who it turn will sells them for $14.99 up to $39.99.

If they are to be farmed, you need to think in terms of free range or caged/boxed style breeding setup that other live stock are kept in?  Right now the cost to size is to high in the states or the EU to make it cheap enough for them to buy. Best thing to do is slowly change their mindset and slowly talk with the TCM practitioner that using TR seahorse will work to balance their Ying & Yang better because of the postive KARMA or Good energy from it use. The other thing is to sell and promote them as a high end product and appeal to their need to maintain a high status and to save face.

Kind Regards,

Tim

« Last Edit: 4 years ago by Timinnl »

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Re: Breeding for Traditional Chinese Medicine?

« Reply #11 posted: 4 years ago »
Yeah, I wonder if there is anything that you can do to make captive raised seahorses have better positive energy. Specifically what is it about being from the wild that makes them more attractive to TCM practitioners over captive bred (aside from size). Would net pens make seahorses more desirable? Don't get me wrong, I'd rather not, but I'm just wondering if you could get over the cost/size hurdle, what is next?

I do know that Project Seahorse did interview many practitioners and buyers, and while they thought wild ones were better, they overall seemed open to the idea that captive breed ones could work. Which is why I think you'd be able to convince them. I think it also most likely depends on the direction TCM takes - a lot of things are now being ground up into pills rather than buying the animal whole, and part of the "advantage" of that is seahorses traditionally thought to not be good, spikey, too small, etc . . . are now being used in the ones that are ground up.

It's also entirely possible as we see a growing middle class in China, the popularity of TCM may reverse itself. Part of the reason TCM is so popular isn't it's effectiveness, but it's been the Chinese government's attempt at dealing with health issues with such a large and largely poor population. As the middle class grows and the country as a whole becomes more affluent, we may see a demand in evidence-based Western Medicine in lieu of TCM because it works. Unfortunately, it looks like drug companies are looking at it the other way: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-12-11/ancient-chinese-cures-seen-helping-drug-maker-pipelines.html
and trying to capitalize on TCM.
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