The leader of the free world, President Barack Obama, just announced a shift in United States policy with the Caribbean island nation of Cuba which has been sanctioned by the American government for more than half a century. The sanctions meant that there has been an embargo on all Cuban products preventing their importation into the U.S. and for us the most disappointing aspect of this policy has been the prevention of being able to legally import reef animals from our close neighbor.
You can bet your last polyp that our thoughts immediately turned to the illustrious Gramma dejongi so far only known to come from Cuba, with only a lone individual having been spotted in the Cayman Islands. But before you and (we) get our hopes up two very major things have to happen first.
The first thing that has to happen is that the U.S. actually has to lift the embargo it’s imposed on Cuba, and 50 years of policy will not be rolled back overnight but at least it’s a step in the right direction. The other thing that has to happen is for Gramma dejongii to actually be collected and exported to the U.S.
If you haven’t noticed, Dejong Marinelife in the Netherlands is not exactly bringing in their namesake reef fish in droves, it’s just a few here and few there that they manage to get their hands on. So Gramma dejongi is not that common, and who knows if there even are any collectors there who know where to find it, and are willing to ship to American suppliers in the future.
No matter what happens, if and when the sanctions are lifted from Cuba we expect there to be a renaissance in marine fish shipments from Cuba to the United States. It is our sincere hope that some gorgeous yellow Gramma dejongi and dejongi hybrids will hitch rides with the increase in ornamental fish collecting from the island but we’ll have to see how this geopolitical issue plays out, and how long it’ll take for the marine aquarium trade to ramp up in the country. [CNN]