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PNG hopes revived!

By Leonard Ho - Posted Aug 13, 2011 08:00 AM
The prospect of Papua New Guinea fish entering the aquarium trade looked grim after the news of SEASMART's legal entanglements with PNG's government. But Ret Talbot reports in Coral Magazine that a new player has entered the game, reviving our collective hope of seeing PNG fish come to market.
PNG hopes revived!

Picasso-like, naturally-occuring Clownfish ... one of several unique fish we've seen out of PNG.

EcoAquariums PNG is the new exclusive PNG fish exporter.  EcoAquariums PNG was founded by Daniel Navin, a former employee of SEASMART.  In his blog, Matt Pederson of Reefbuilders points out some notable potential differences between EcoAquariums PNG and SEASMART.  The most notable difference is the mention of the word "decompression" on EcoAquariums PNG's website, suggesting that collectors will now be allowed to capture fish with dive equipment.  SEASMART, on the other hand, was limited to collection by snorkel alone.  If true, this means EcoAquariums will have far greater access to variety of fish.  Also, there appears to be no "off-limits" species imposed on EcoAquariums.

Read EcoAquarium PNG's press release below.  Read Ret Talbot's excellent article in Coral Magazine: "Sustainable Collection Revives in Papua New Guinea."  Visit Reefbuilders to read Matt Pedersen's insight on this development.  Lastly, Reefthreads has a special podcast discussing this topic.  There is no shortage of excitement for PNG fish and consequently no shortage of PNG news coverage!


Rare, Exciting and Sustainably-Collected Marine Aquarium Animals Soon to Arrive in North American Markets from New Exporter in Papua New Guinea

FISHERMAN ISLAND, PNG – August 11, 2011 – EcoAquariums Papua New Guinea (PNG) Ltd released photographs today of a very unusually patterned ornate butterflyfish (Chaetodon ornatissimus) spotted in its collection area. This is one of several unusual fishes observed by EcoAquariums fishers in advance of the new company’s planned export of marine aquarium animals to North American markets later in 2011. EcoAquariums holds the sole license issued by PNG National Fisheries Authority (NFA) to export marine aquarium life from the Pacific island nation known for fishes such as the lightning maroon clownfish and the promise of a truly sustainable and equitable marine aquarium fishery.

“Rare fishes like this butterflyfish and some of the unique clownfish morphs we are seeing will, I think, reignite excitement for PNG’s marine aquarium fishery,” says Daniel Navin, director of EcoAquariums. Navin adds his fishers will not target obligate corallivores like this ornate butterflyfish unless it is for a very specific client who is prepared to meet the animal’s husbandry needs. “The point is that we have some pretty amazing and unusual fishes here in PNG, and our fishers are keen to begin collecting for aquarists desiring uniquely beautiful, incredibly healthy and sustainably collected animals.” In 2010, PNG captured the enthusiasm of aquarists worldwide with exceptional fishes like the lightning maroon clownfish. “It was, however, the potential for PNG to emerge as the first science-based, sustainable and equitable marine aquarium fishery that really drove market demand,” says Navin.

Navin was hired in 2010 by Seasmart, the company awarded the contract to explore establishing a sustainable marine aquarium fishery in PNG. When the joint NFA-Seasmart trial program ended late last year, Navin approached NFA for a license to export aquarium animals. “PNG NFA is among the Pacific’s most progressive, sustainably-minded fisheries agencies,” Navin says, pointing to PNG’s tuna fishery as an example. “NFA has poured millions into tagging programs and establishing one of the Pacific’s largest no-take zones.” When it comes to the aquarium fishery, NFA has already invested five million USD. “They want their aquarium fishery to be the most sustainable, equitable and well-managed in the world, and we at EcoAquariums are fortunate to be building on very solid work,” says Navin, referring to the detailed reef surveys, total allowable catch numbers and training of local fishers completed by NFA and Seasmart during the trial period. “Having said that, we are approaching the fishery in a far more market-driven fashion,” he says. “We believe there is a market for equitably-traded, sustainably-collected and maricultured marine aquarium animals, and we’re looking to target that market, while being both fiscally responsible and inventive in our approach.”

EcoAquariums Papua New Guinea Ltd is the only marine aquarium company licensed to operate in Papua New Guinea. Focused on environmental and economic sustainability for both reefs and local fishers, EcoAquariums is an innovative leader in shaping the future of a robust marine aquarium trade dependent upon sustainable wild-collection, mariculture and aquaculture.

Author: Leonard Ho
Location: Southern California

I'm a passionate aquarist of over 30 years, a coral reef lover, and the blog editor for Advanced Aquarist. While aquarium gadgets interest me, it's really livestock (especially fish), artistry of aquariums, and "method behind the madness" processes that captivate my attention.


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