The global reef aquarium hobby has suffered a lot of setbacks in recent years, mostly due to the interconnectedness of businesses all over the world. It started with the closure of all coral exports from Fiji, both wild and maricultured, similarly all corals from Indonesia were banned for two years, and most recently Hawaii suspended the collection of all aquarium fish, all while the cost of air cargo freight has skyrocketed all over the world leading to a sharp increase in all livestock imported from other countries.
Earlier last year in 2020 Indonesia reopened its coral export and the hobby has been enjoying the renewed supply of both wild and farmed corals, even though the quality and the price is substantially higher than we were used to. Despite all these challenges to the reef aquarium hobby it appears that yet another problem is looming regarding the exportation of wild corals from this incomparable region of the Coral Triangle.
We’ve been researching the topic as much as we can but since we don’t speak or understand Indonesian the translation may not be 100% accurate but we’ll do our best to share what we’ve discovered so far. Over ten years ago, back in 2007 there were negotiations between the Indonesian dealers of wild and farmed corals and the Indonesian government regarding a legal framework for phasing out the collection of wild harvested corals in favor of farmed or cultured corals.
Part of the compromise back in 2010/2011 involved the total and scheduled ban on harvesting corals from wild reefs in 2021 while dealers and exporters shifted their efforts towards only farmed corals. So a law placed on the books ten years ago is now coming into effect but there’s a degree of pushback from the community of coral collectors and exporters who are trying to make the case that since their operations were suspended for two years, they should be afforded two more years of business as usual.
We are already well into 2021, and shipments of wild corals have continued using the remaining CITES permits for the quota from last year, 2020, but no new CITES permits have been issued for 2021 because of the law on the books. To be clear, as far as we know all of these impending regulations only relate to wild corals but not for farmed corals, new 2021 CITES permits have been issued for cultured corals.
The shifting political climate is hard to predict in our own country, let alone those of other countries so there is no telling how this situation will play out. At least we will still be able to enjoy beautiful farmed rainbow Tenuis, colorful millies and our favorite deepwater Acro species, but the large non-colonial LPS such as Trachyphyllia, Acanthophyllia, and Cynarina would be banned from wild collection in Indonesia.