Although rare, endangered, and otherwise at risk species could be a real issue, from everything I've read, the aquarium hobby industry is really a small catch compared to the numbers of octos and cuttles that are caught as food, bycatch, and bait. In the "choose your battles wisely domain," I'd say that a blanket objection to wild-caught pet octos and cuttles is cutting off our nose to spite our face. Personally, I'd like to promote ceph keeping as a hobby, decrease mortality rates in capture and shipping, ban destructive and cruel capture methods, ban or regulate import of inappropriate species (endangered, understudied, or requiring more specialized care than even expert hobby aquariasts can produce, and probably poisonous-- sorry Greg), and encourage people to only order cephs when they are really prepared to house them. Probably reducing fatal bycatch for some species would be a good goal as well, and maybe reducing food use of endangered species (although I'm not sure this is really much of a problem).
If we do all those things, perhaps the demand for tank-raised animals will become great enough that it's financially viable. For now, though, with the demise of octopets, there doesn't seem to be anyone with the time, knowledge, and money to invest in aquaculture, and even if there was, it's not clear that it's possible to make it financially competitive with wild-caught animals. If there is a way to change this, I'm all for it, but simply declaring that this is what we'd like to see doesn't contribute anything to making it a reality.
I hear you Monty, and don't think the suggestion here could change the world in that regard, but I woudn't mind us standing on that principle, if we could. i.e., if someone with the time, money, responsibility, skills and inclination came along with a captive-bred program, I would be quite happy to subsidize it and also discourage wild-caught programs. After all, if we were subsidizing a captive-bred program I would assume we'd have lots of ground to stand on as to why that would be more respectful of cephalopods than wild-caught. So I'd very much *like* to get there, but I agree it certainly feels far off. In the meantime, I'd prefer we keep the octo-keeping hobby in motion so we can continue to learn and also work toward our collective goals.
Never. With the exception of rare or worriesome species like the mimics, flamboyants, etc that we already disapprove of owning; I have seen no evidence that the harvest of cephalopods for the hobby trade is anything but eternally sustainable.
Remember these animals are R-strategists laying 500 eggs at a time. The number of young that make it to maturity is based on the resources present. You can harvest a lot of young with zero impact to a mature breeding population. That's ignoring the fact that very few are even harvested for the hobby. How many are for sale at any given time in all the pet stores in the world versus how many are being sold for food?
Thales is the only one of us on these boards that's actually been to Indonesia and has seen cephs collected for food and for hobby; and its my impression he very much supports both.
To say that we should not harvest any wild-caught cephalopods is reactionary in the purest sense of the word. The premise is formulated completely on emotion and not on any rational analysis. Its pretty silly to target cephalopods as an environmental pillage when we're importing tons of reef rubble from the South Pacific every day.
I am all for captive breeding programs; but I don't see the point in discouraging sustainable collection.