In December 2017, the Fiji Ministry of Fisheries and Forests unilaterally placed a ban on the export of live rock and coral. This move shocked the aquarium industry, as the abrupt shift in legislation appeared to be unprompted and came without warning. Here, we share updates on the latest developments.

What Prompted the Ban

Since Fiji’s aquaculture industry provides hundreds of jobs and is beneficial to the economy, the ban on live coral exports came as a surprise. Fiji is home to an incredible array of coral species, so the change in regulation was a blow to both exporters and importers.

The Fiji Ministry of Fisheries and Forests (FMFF) chose to implement the ban due to conservation concerns, but did not consult outside experts before making the change. While environmentalists and reef enthusiasts certainly have an interest in protecting our world’s natural wonders, banning the export of live coral is a detriment to reef protection. Not only does coral farming spread awareness and appreciation for these incredible ecosystems, it also provides economic incentive for citizens to protect their reefs.  Although Fiji was attempting to discourage irresponsible collection  of wild colonies and destruction of reef systems, the blanket ban made no exceptions for communities where sustainable coral farming was an integral part of the economy.

About the Policy Reversal

The wild and farmed coral export prohibition caused swift outrage from the community, and Walt Smith International joined the fight to lobby the ministry for a reversal of the ban. Walt Smith immediately jumped into action facilitating meetings with the FMFF, and approximately 70 days after its implementation, the ban was lifted.

The FMFF halted the harvest of wild corals to promote ethical aquaculture, but the governing body was unaware that this practice is already widespread and growing. The Aquaculture Development (ADE) for the Environment Project (ADE) was in existence prior to the ban, but Walt Smith International brought this sustainability project to the attention of the FMFF. ADE aims to promote sustainable farming of coral to aid in the restoration of existing reefs, and this approach has a significant positive impact on the reefs of Fiji. The ADE Project was instrumental in changing the perception of coral exports by the FMFF, and tax-deductible donations are still being accepted by this nonprofit organization. Thanks to the work of Walt Smith International and the ADE Project, coral exporters are back in business and ready to meet the new quotas.

Walt Smith International and ADE were instrumental in reversing Fiji’s export ban on live coral. Sustainable farming methods are necessary to ensure the long-term viability of live coral, and farmed coral can play a significant role in restoring existing local reefs. If you’d like to join the movement and start or improve your own reef, you’ll need the right equipment to help your livestock flourish. We offer two generations of reef lighting systems, and our products are designed with high-quality materials to last for years to come. Each of our lighting systems comes with a three-year warranty, so you can feel confident that your investment will go the distance. To learn more about our products, please browse our inventory online.