A move to protect coral reefs in the Pacific is sparking some controversy because of the impact it’s having on local jobs. The government of Fiji banned the export of live corals a week ago—but there’s still some confusion about the policy. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.
The Fisheries Minister of Fiji used a Facebook post last week to announce the country was banning the export of live coral.
The Fiji Sun quotes the minister as saying the move reflects Fiji’s international commitments to reef conservation. But industry leaders say they had no warning about the ban—and are cutting jobs as a result.
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reports companies are still awaiting clarification on points such as whether it is permissible to take a small part of an existing coral, grow colonies from it, and export that new coral.
Trade in live coral is largely aimed at the aquarium market—with Indonesia and the Philippines among the major exporters.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says the United States remains the largest importer of live coral. Suggesting that exporting countries be required to monitor the impact of coral harvest on their resources.
The health of coral reefs has been a growing concern for a number of government groups and non-governmental organizations. Among them is the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force – comprised of a dozen federal agencies, as well as 7 territories and states, including Hawai‘i.
The task force meets next month in Washington—and while trade in live coral is not on the agenda, it is likely to come under further review by groups inside and outside Fiji as the year goes on.