During the waning hours of December 28th, with virtually all other offices closed for the holiday and new years break, the Fiji Ministry of Fisheries and Forrests placed an immediate ban on all exports of live rock and corals. This sudden change in the regulation of Fiji’s natural resources really took the Fiji marine ornamental industry by surprise and caused an immediate loss of jobs and revenue.
After laying off more than 75% of their workforce, and then lobbying the ministry with reports on their ADE Project and aquaculture efforts, Walt Smith and local exporters have succeeded in lobbying the Fiji Minister into reversing this ban. It took more than a month to get the trade back in the clear but although the collection will be able to resume, something tells us things will never be the same.
The quota for CITES permits still need to be established and we are still curious to learn how these numbers might change from previous years. Furthermore, the sudden closure of Fiji reef exports and the possibility of never getting wild Fiji corals has rekindled the interest in specimens from this legendary country of coral reefs.
Australia and Indonesia may have dominated the rare coral scene and especially the exotic coral strains, but there’s still nothing like the hardy and brilliant shallow water Acropora from Fiji. Hopefully this close call will encourage Fiji exporters to culture even more corals, and to continue supporting reef restoration like the ADE Project.