Coral harvesting? First Tonga, then Fiji, now Vanuatu's reefs are in danger.

Tim Tessier tim at
Tue Sep 21 19:08:50 EDT 1999

Hello All,

Just talked with a friend in Vanuatu and he mentioned that 
everyone from Fiji is feeling the impending shutdown of exports
so they are trying to get into Vanuatu.  I will cut and paste 
portions of some emails to give you an idea of what is happening.
I think the Vanuatu government could use some
scientific help in stopping their reefs from being exploited and 
destroyed instead of sustainably managed. 
Hopefully someone can help.

"Our director of Fisheries will be meeting with his minister tomorrow(Sept
23) to
discuss the situation so any additional "advice" you can offer will be fed
into the system before their meeting. We have managed to put a stop to
xxxxxxx xxxxxxx's operation....his reputation for being a crook basically
sealed his fate, but there are plenty more shadey companies ready to fill
his place!"

>I have recently heard that via the pacnews wire service that Fiji is
>considering a ban on the collection and export of Corals AND "pet-fish"
>from their country. This is a bold move by the Fiji government but given
>the amount of Coral/Rock and Fish being removed from Fiji every month I am
>frankly quite surprised it has taken this long!


>given our
>long term interests in this country and the aquarium industry, we were
>extremely disturbed recently to find out that a recently formed "foreign
>investment" section of the Vanuatu Govt has received AND approved a flood
>of applications from people wishing to set-up similar aquarium based
>companies on our island. (Perhaps as a result of the problems in Fiji?) To
>date four companies have been approved without consultation to Fisheries or
>Environment Departments - all in the name of "foreign investment"! One
>particularly nasty operator is
>already in Vanuatu trying to sort out Fisheries permits etc.... and has
>already made attempts to export illegally (without permission) 1000Kgs of
>Live Corals, and hundreds of Live Mangrove Plants!
>Given common sense , and the small size of our island. The director's of
>our environment unit (CITES authority) and Fisheries departments are
>absolutely horrified at the prospect of an additional 4 companies. It is
>the view of our Environment department that while one company (us) can be
>properly monitored for sustainability, any more companies would simply be
>too much for our reefs to support. The debate
>continues................Investment vs Resources. 
>I have suggested that all approvals be put on hold until some form of
>environmental impact study can be performed, but not being a scientist
>myself, do not pull a lot of weight with my suggestions. 
>Could you please offer some suggestions to us and the Vanuatu government
>before the flood gates are opened and Vanuatu ends up being stripped of all
>aquarium product as has happenned in Fiji, and before that Tonga etc...
>there seems to be a number of companies whose policy it is to arrive in a
>new country, take and ship whatever they can, and then after 12 months they
>move on to the next destination.


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