A few days ago we learned that the National Fisheries authority of Papua New Guinea is withholding funds from EcoEZ for the SEASMART program. the PNG NFA has issued a public statement regarding the suit and they are citing a lack of confidence in EcoEZ as the primary reason for withholding money allocated for the SEASMART program.
In their statement the PNG NFA makes it clear that they believe in the viability of the marine aquarium trade: “The PNG NFA is planning to move forward with their own, internally run marine aquarium program, which will be largely based on the core principles of the SEASMART program: sustainability, equitability, profitability.” The statement goes on to say that the new program expects to start shipping PNG fish again in the middle of this year, and we can only hope that exporting corals from PNG is still on the agenda. The full press release is after the break.
The Papua New Guinea National Fisheries Authority has
lost confidence in Eco EZ Inc to develop the PNG Marine
The Papua New Guinea National Fisheries Authority (NFA) has ceased the allocation of funds to the U.S. based consultancy firm Eco EZ Inc, which formerly held the contract to carry out the “SEASMART” Program. This decision comes as the contract term between Eco EZ Inc and the PNG NFA neared expiration, and the NFA was not satisfied with Eco EZ Inc’s level of performance.
Funding to Eco EZ Inc was cut short for the last quarter of 2010, which was the last quarter of the contract term.
Eco EZ Inc entered into a contract with the Papua New Guinea NFA in 2008. Initially a one year contract to conduct reef survey work in the reefs of PNG and test the feasibility of an aquarium trade, the scope of work and contract term quickly expanded to three years and the development of a sustainable marine aquarium fishery.
15 million kina, approx 5 million USD, were allocated to Eco EZ Inc to carry out the SEASMART program over the three years. The government of Papua New Guinea, through the NFA, was the sole provider of funds to Eco EZ Inc.
Initially the program seemed to be going great, with Eco EZ Inc training local fishers from over 8 villages to sustainably collect marine aquarium life. Exports of these organisms occurred throughout 2009 and 2010, primarily to US importers in Los Angeles.
However, shortcomings in the SEASMART program slowly started to become apparent over time, especially in 2010. A number of contractual objectives were in place that Eco EZ Inc was expected to deliver on, but simply failed to achieve. One example of this is the production of
TRADE software. The PNG government allocated a substantial amount of money specifically for Eco EZ Inc to develop this web based organism traceability software. Six months was the established timetable for this TRADE software to be created, and shortly thereafter, NFA management was to be trained on its use. However after nearly three years, Eco EZ Inc was unable to deliver the software, despite spending all of the allocated sum.
In the end, Eco EZ Inc was unable to develop a viable business model that the Papua New Guinea NFA would be able to utilize to attract private sector investment. The combined effect of Eco EZ Inc not meeting their contractual obligations left the PNG NFA no choice but to discontinue funding.
The National Fisheries Authority’s decision to cut funding to Eco EZ Inc is not a reflection of NFA’s position toward the marine aquarium trade in Papua New Guinea however. The NFA still recognizes that the enormous untapped marine resources of PNG’s reefs can bring great benefit to the coastal people of PNG by channeling these resources through a sustainable, equitable aquarium trade.
The PNG NFA is planning to move forward with their own, internally run marine aquarium program, which will be largely based on the core principles of the SEASMART program: sustainability, equitability, profitability. This main aim of this NFA project will be to take the
aquarium fishery in PNG from a “project stage” to a fully developed, private sector run industry. Profitability is the one previously unattained area that the NFA hopes it will be able to achieve in 2011. Many employees from the SEASMART program will be incorporated into the new, NFA run program.
“A work plan and budget have already been established for the 2011 PNG marine aquarium program. This next year of operation is expected to deliver a great range and volume of marine aquarium organisms to our international customers. Fish from around the coast of PNG, as well as inverts and cultured corals, should be available at your local fish store by mid 2011,” says Kema Mailu, program “caretaker” of the new NFA run PNG marine aquarium program.
The National Fisheries Authority of Papua New Guinea is a Statutory Authority set up by the PNG Government to monitor, regulate, and develop policy related to fisheries in Papua New Guinea. The National Fisheries Authority of Papua New Guinea is committed to managing fisheries for sustainable benefit.