OFI reports that the marine ornamental fish industry has suffered another blow with the recent announcement by the Ministry of Fisheries in Fiji to implement a zero quota for export of live rock and coral for 2018. While the move is aimed at protecting the island nations coral reef resources, there is considerable confusion around the announcement particularly about export of farmed corals and potential massive job losses with one industry member already announcing they will need to shed 75% of their workforce as a result of this change to legislation.
OFI supports the sustainable wild harvesting of both freshwater and marine organisms. It needs to be recognised that this industry has a significant impact on the livelihoods of many artisanal fisherman around the world, with many thousands of fisherman deriving an income form the industry. OFI President said “Well managed and sustainable fisheries are recognised as vital tools in the conservation of various habitats around the world. We are concerned for the Fiji industry, particularly in the view of the lack of consultation with industry and the extremely short notice given to industry for this and not allowing any transitional arrangement to reduce the impact to industry and most importantly local employment.”
At least 20% of corals exported from Fiji are maricultured and it is unclear whether this practice will be allowed to continue or not. Aquaculture in general has grown exponentially in the past decades and its importance almost surpass that of fisheries. Also in the ornamental aquatic industry captive bred organisms are gaining importance. In the case of Fiji, we hope there will be room for growing and exporting corals and to further expand our knowledge on the biology of corals and possible spinoff for conservation.
It is hoped that the government will consult with industry to develop a long-term plan to continue this industry in a sustainable manner that meets conservation objectives while maintaining employment and a badly needed export industry for Fiji.