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News Fiji halts all exports of corals & rock

Discussion in 'Hobby News & Events' started by xroads, Jan 2, 2018.

  1. xroads Veteran Reefkeeper Leadership Team GIRS Member

    La Porte City, IA
    +996 / 6 / -0
  2. stew Well-Known ReefKeeper

    Ankeny, IA
    +70 / 0 / -0
    Hope this does not spread to the rest of the coral producing areas around the world...
  3. DangerJ Well-Known ReefKeeper Board of Directors Leadership Team GIRS Member

    Des Moines, IA
    +297 / 4 / -0
    This will get flipped once they realize the financial ramifications.
  4. Bud Loves Bacon Website Team Leadership Team GIRS Member

    West Des Moines, IA
    +1,708 / 14 / -0
    In many areas where fish & coral are harvested, there is reportedly not much oversight and some damage gets done. So while I understand the big picture thinking behind this kind of move - to protect coral reefs - it's a blanket policy without any consideration for actual science and fact, most specifically local to Fiji.

    In Fiji, there is WSI and maybe a few others operating. But none of them are running roughshod over the reefs. It's just the opposite. This move was pretty much made because the guy in charge in Fiji is president of COP23 Home - Cop23 and if you dig into the articles in the Fiji Sun and Fiji times it becomes pretty clear that they didn't ever intend to take into account any conditions specific to one area of the world.

    Here's a quote from this article: Coral ban to protect dying reefs - Fiji Times Online

    "The ban is basically our commitment to the Ocean Conference in New York and in Bonn we joined the Coral Alliance which was launched by Prince Charles and the Crown Prince of Monaco, Prince Albert," he said.

    WSI layoff article: http://fijisun.com.fj/2018/01/03/over-60-workers-laid-off-from-coral-company/

    If you read up more on WSI, they've dumped millions into the local economy and they constantly work to restore reefs. They're a model for what all reef collectors should be doing, they should really be held up as an example of doing it right, not shut down.

    However WSI did meet with the Minister of Fisheries (along with a group of top Fiji scientists, so I've been told) this week and he is going to visit their facility in order to get a full understanding of their operations (which they obviously did not have) and also granted them a temporary stay on the ban I guess.
  5. IowaDiver Well-Known ReefKeeper

    West Des Moines
    +2 / 0 / -0
    I'm happy about this. I think fish and coral need to be bred/aquacultred as much as possible to avoid damaging our reefs, which are already in peril.
  6. Bud Loves Bacon Website Team Leadership Team GIRS Member

    West Des Moines, IA
    +1,708 / 14 / -0
    It's actually been somewhat reversed. I believe it goes something like this - Fiji is allowing WSI to continue to operate under their previous CITES permit until further details can be worked out and a new permit can be generated.

    The long and the short of it is the WSI as well as other similar companies operating in Fiji are of benefit to the reefs, not of detriment. While this might not be the case worldwide, that doesn't mean you ban everything worldwide. That's the though process this basically came from.

    I agree with the aquaculturing part, but not with the outright ban without any consideration for the effects, which actually might be negative. These politicians have/had no clue what they were banning, they just assumed that all coral exporters were just busting up entire areas of reefs and making bank off of them and leaving them to die or something, like they are clear cutting through a rainforest. That couldn't be further from the truth, at least for Fiji. For instance, part of the wording of this action discussed "breeding" of corals instead of harvesting off the reefs. As if you can take coral frags and tell what "sex" they are and then make them reproduce? Yeah, it doesn't work that way.

    Dave Barrick is one of the owners of the web hosting I use (and is used for this forum), the same Dave Barrick that lives in Fiji and works for WSI so I keep in touch with him, he pretty much confirmed my thinking about the politicians having no clue.

    If you follow the WSI FB Page you'll see this post with the letter from Bruce Carlson, worth the read

    Walt Smith Int'l Fiji

    Due to the recent ban with our Fiji Coral we have had many people reach out to us in support. Bruce Carlson who is has not only been a close friend to Walt & Deb, is a great ally for our company. Attached is a letter of support that we feel is a great read to help understand some of the issues faced here.

    January 2, 2018

    The Minister
    Ministry of Fisheries and Forests
    Government of Fiji

    RE: Ban on coral exports

    Dear Honorable Minister:

    I read with great concern about the recent ban on the export of coral from Fiji. As a marine biologist and former researcher at the University of the South Pacific, I realize the need for wise conservation of natural resources, but drastic preservation measures often have severe unintended consequences that are more harmful than helpful. In this case, I believe that Fiji will realize little if any change on coral reefs as a result of the coral export ban, but it definitely will cause significant trauma to people who will lose their jobs, and to the Fiji economy which will suffer a totally unnecessary financial loss.

    In the early 1970’s I, and others, conducted a comprehensive survey of corals throughout the Fiji archipelago under the auspices of USP resulting in a significant increase in the number of coral species known from the Fiji Islands. These specimens form the core of the Marine Reference Collection at USP, which exists to this day. I have subsequently returned many times to dive on Fiji reefs, including in the year 2000 when Fiji suffered a catastrophic coral bleaching event. During the bleaching event, I set up transects on reefs off Lautoka and on the Beqa Barrier Reef to monitor the effects of bleaching, and subsequent recovery. Despite variations in recovery rates, the majority of reefs showed remarkable resilience and recovered to near pre-bleaching conditions.

    In 2010, I returned to monitor transects on the Beqa Barrier Reef. On one transect near Frigate Passage, I counted over 800 coral colonies per transect (1 x 30 meters) or about 27 corals/m2 at a depth of about 15 meters; these were mostly young colonies averaging 4-11 cm diameter. This was an area that suffered heavy coral mortality from bleaching in 2000. Now consider that from Frigate Passage to Cutter Passage, the Beqa Barrier Reef is about 39 km in length. A swath 30 meters wide x 39 km along the Beqa Barrier Reef would therefore yield a MINIMUM coral population estimate of 31.6 million corals. But the reef is much much wider than 30 meters, so this is a very low estimate. Also realize that this is just on the outer slopes of ONE reef. When you consider ALL of Fiji’s reefs, many of which have similar coral density, the total number of corals in Fiji is astronomical – especially in comparison to the vanishingly small number exported for the aquarium trade.

    To see exactly how remarkable the recovery has been for many of Fiji’s coral reefs, I would urge you to view my video “Resilience” on YouTube:

    Preservationists argue that natural resources need complete protection from all human activity, and in some cases this is correct, especially for beautiful natural areas and for species threatened with extinction. On the other hand, conservation biologists recognize that through careful management it is possible to extract natural resources, such as coral, in a long-term sustainable manner without harm to the species or the environment. With many millions (billions?) of colonies in Fiji, coral is hardly threatened with extinction and even after major cyclones and catastrophic bleaching events, Fiji reefs have shown remarkable resiliency.

    Hard data exist indicating that the export of live corals is clearly sustainable at current levels of collecting in Fiji. Opponents certainly have valid global concerns about coral reefs, but I suspect they have not presented data that coral collecting in Fiji is damaging or unsustainable. Tossing hardworking people out of work on the basis of non-existent anecdotal evidence, and losing millions of dollars in revenue from overseas trade is a serious miscalculation and injustice to people and the Fiji economy.

    I submit that Fiji will realize little, if any, measurable effect on its coral reefs from a ban on live-coral exports. If you want to make a difference for corals, please focus on overfishing, pollution and dredging all of which have damaging, and long-lasting negative impacts on entire coral ecosystems – not just corals. Continue working with the live-coral exporters and collect data on the reefs in areas where collecting takes place, and I am certain you will discover that this fishery is both sustainable and beneficial: to local people who enjoy employment, to the airlines who receive significant revenue, and to many thousands of people worldwide who experience learning about Fiji coral reefs from their home aquariums.

    Vinaka vaka levu

    Bruce Carlson, Ph.D. - retired
    Peace Corps research biologist, University of the South Pacific (1972- 1975)
    Director, Waikiki Aquarium, University of Hawaii (1976 – 2002)
    Conservation Director, Georgia Aquarium (2002 – 2010)

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