The National, Friday July 5th, 2013
By SONIA KENU
THE development of Papua New Guinea’s marine aquarium trade is being hindered by the high cost of international and domestic freight, Inshore Fishery manager Leban Gisawa says.
“The trade of live marine animals in glass water tanks for exhibition includes coral fish, butterfly fish, anemone fish, invertebrates, associated reef creatures that have high ornamental value and on high demand,” he said.
Gisawa told participants of a Seaweb Sea series programme in Port Moresby yesterday that Papua New Guinea needed to overcome obstacles such as lack of required infrastructure in coastal provinces, poor flight connections to major import countries and competitive price on domestic animals.
He said the industry started in 2007 when the National Fisheries Authority commissioned US-based Eco EZ Inc to establish a PNG Seasmart programme that operated until 2010.
“The programme instigated training for local villagers in sustainable collection of reef species for the trade and it set up committees for local management area and community fishery monitoring,” he said.
“The Government spent at least K15 million on the project and within the period Seasmart exported 53 live animals out of PNG.
“The programme ended in 2010 because NFA wasn’t satisfied with Eco EZ’s level of performance, plus the programme did not benefit the people apart from the trainings.
“Eco Aquariums PNG Ltd took over the programme in 2011 and is the only licensed operator in the country.”
Gisawa said the new focus was on creating awareness to get greater support for the industry.