OFI Secretary General killed in Ukraine plane crash


It has emerged that the Secretary General of Ornamental Fish International (OFI), Dr. Alex Ploeg, was among those killed in the Malaysia Airlines plane crash above Ukraine last week.

In a press release, OFI said: "Ornamental Fish International (OFI) has received the terrible news that its Secretary General, Dr. Alex Ploeg, his wife Edith, their son Robert and his friend Robin, perished in the plane crash above Ukraine on Thursday, July 17. They were on their way to a well-deserved and much-anticipated vacation in Asia.

"Our condolences go out to their daughters, Mirjam and Sandra, family and friends.

"The loss of Alex and Edith is immeasurable to OFI. Alex was much appreciated worldwide and a fount of knowledge about our industry. He was a keystone, not only for us, but also for EPO (European Pet Organisation), Dibevo (the Dutch Pet Trade Association) and other organisations.

"Alex’s vast amount of contacts ranged from ministers to top civil servants in Brussels, Den Hague, Singapore and elsewhere, but also with workers on the floor, breeders and collectors. When he spoke, everyone in our industry listened. His ability to express complex issues simply and logically made him a much-asked-for speaker at international conferences."

OFI Secretariat Roberto Hensen said: "My wife and I have known Alex and Edith for more than 25 years when he and I were breeding fish together on the island of Bonaire in the Caribbean. Even though we moved to different continents, we never lost touch and I have seen his children grow into wonderful adults. A few years ago he asked me to assist him in the OFI secretariat and I gladly accepted, and he, Edith and I worked very well together as good friends in mutual respect and understanding and with a lot of humor."

OFI President, Dr Gerald Bassleer added: "With much regret, I, President of OFI, deeply respect Roberto’s personal feelings; I worked closely with Alex over the past eight years and he has taught me about the world of NGOs, politics, negotiations, the future of OFI, good food, humor, etc. We will miss him and Edith and our task is to continue much stronger with the pathway they prepared for our industry, friends and relatives.

"This tragedy has affected us deeply. We have lost very special people and for us, Alex, Edith and Robert will be missed forever."

In a separate statement, OATA’s Chief Executive, Keith Davenport, said: "First and foremost, Alex and Edith were lovely people. Good natured, friendly and humorous were just a few of their qualities. I was lucky to meet and know them both and I will miss them. I did not know their son Robert directly but Alex and I did exchange family stories.

"On a professional level I spoke to Alex regularly, often daily. We co-operated on many issues of relevance to the UK ornamental trade. We never tried to decide who achieved what when we were successful rather enjoying our success in working together. Alex provided the working basis of species, which was used  in the recent Import of Live Fish Act revision. The quality of his work is reflected by so few noticing any difference.

"He, myself and colleagues in Germany, worked to remove the threat of import controls that could have followed if a listing of species susceptible to EUS (a fungal disease that can affect many tropical species and be carried by coldwater species) had not been revoked by the EU. When the Invasive Regulation was in the European Parliament he unselfishly made sure I was invited to see to see key MEPs and to various meetings. His knowledge, his contacts, his style (always well informed and organised prior to meetings), his openness and willingness to collaborate on and discuss issues means he will be missed by those who knew him and by the global industry."

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