Sustainably collected fish and inverts from Papua New Guinea (PNG) have arrived on US shores once more. Despite what you may have read elsewhere, the official information continues to suggest that there had not been a single shipment from PNG to the US since Seasmart’s last shipments sometime in 2010. With PNG fish pouring into the European market through Dale Prichard’s EcoReefUK Ltd. since the start of 2012, those of us in the US were drooling and anxious.
After a two year hiatus from the US aquarium trade, sustainably collected livestock from Papua New Guinea is once again going to be available to US markets. For those who wondered how easy it would be to find PNG fish if they became available, it sounds as if it will be a level playing field for aquarium hobbyists around the country.
Scott Fellman has returned to the west coast, teaming up with Joe Caparatta to relaunch the online livestock supplier “Unique Corals” at UniqueCorals.com. Johnny Ciotti has also joined the team. Scott tells us, “We are online retail. ” There’s a lot to be excited about given the new 5,000 square foot, 14,000 gallon plus facility. “We are trying to only offer sustainably sourced, captive propagated, and conscientiously handled livestock.” Given that stated mission, it comes as no surprise that the first US shipment of PNG fish from Daniel Navin and EcoAquariums PNG, should find it’s way to Unique Corals.
And, for the record, there is more than just fish in the shipment; the first PNG “corals” are coming in the form of Zooanthids, described in a slightly atypically laid-back “pretty cool” by Scott. Some snails and starfish also hitched a ride, but the bulk of this shipment is the fish.
An obviously excited Fellman told us that , “we received some amazing PNG fish from Dan…Ret [Talbot] was on hand and we were like kids in a candy store!” He went on to gush, “I cannot believe the Clowns! Amazing Horned Maroons- mismarked Horn Maroons, crazy percs…wow even a naked Perc, and one with solid black tail…This stuff is very cool!” Clownfish aren’t the only thing that got Scott all excited like a true fish geek.
“We have some interesting Cardinalfish…. a bunch of “Ghost Cardinalfish”, Nectamia fusca, and some “Pearly Line Cardinalfish, Apogon teinophorus, some cool “Black Cardinalfish” (name unknown) [ed. suspecting Apogon melas], lots of “Nine Line Cardinalfish”, Apogon novemfasciatus, and some cool Varigated Cardinalfish, Fowleria variegata. ” Remember reefers, that some Apogons make great schooling fish – there’s always room for some cardinals!
One aspect of the business will be entirely new to the US market – the EcoAquariums “bag tags” which match up every individual fish to the date, location, and diver who collected it. Just look up the number on the spreadsheets and you can find exactly when, where, and by whom, the fish was collected. You can even read up on many of the actual people collecting your fish here. Dig a bit deeper, and some of the names in the reports are even linked to more detailed profiles, such as the collector shown in our opening graphic, Samuel Kila. This is somewhat akin to getting to know the local farmer who grew your strawberries….in Chile. This unprecedented level of transparency and traceability is at this time perhaps only approached by the QR Tag program instituted by the wholesaler Quality Marine.
When can you expect to see these first PNG arrivals ready for sale? Fellman tells us, “We are ramping up to start online live sales by August 1st. We are having a little ‘sneak pique’ as we call it, next weekend for local reefers. It’s been an amazing journey so far. With our ‘sustainable’ ethos, it’s been a real challenge to secure good inventory of corals and fishes that meet our core values, but we are well on our way to where we want to go.”