PRESS RELEASE February 4, 2001 Nadi, Fiji

The marine ornamentals trade will be under the microscope as delegates from all over the Pacific gather to discuss ways of making the industry environmentally sustainable. The South Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) is the organization coordinating the four-day workshop.

Marine ornamentals are fish, corals, other invertebrates, and live rock, which are sought after for home and large public aquariums.

The workshop will focus on four main areas: building capacity to manage resources sustainably; protecting marine ornamentals from exploitation through international trade and other stresses; fulfilling CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) requirements; and the role of government, local communities and the trade industry.

The workshop comes in response to the destructive collecting practices used by many communities involved in the marine ornamentals trade. Fish that are stunned and caught using chemicals such as sodium cyanide often die before they reach the retailer or soon after they are sold. The use of such chemicals has resulted in long-term damage to coral reefs and killed other marine life.

The workshop will discuss ways to manage the industry, including the possibility of regulation through certification and labeling. Currently, there is no regulation in place to govern the collection and trade of marine ornamentals from Pacific island countries. Communities who participate in the collection of marine aquarium organisms do so because it is one of the few income-generating options available to them.

Delegates from American Samoa, Cook Islands, Fiji, Hawai‘i, Marshall Islands, Philippines, Palau, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, and Vanuatu will be in attendance.

The workshop is made possible through funding support provided by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).


February 5, 2001 Nadi, Fiji Islands



Though there is a common goal of creating an environmentally sustainable marine ornamentals industry, the road to achieving it is divided.

The competing visions of government, industry, and agencies began to show through early on the opening day of the Sustainable Management of the Marine Ornamentals Trade workshop.

The meeting began with opening remarks by Fiji’s Deputy Secretary for the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forests who expressed Fiji’s keen interest in ensuring the long-term sustainability of the industry.

"We would appreciate initiatives to introduce a market-driven certification and labeling system for marine ornamental industries that will assist countries in achieving a balance between developing profitable reef-based industries, maintaining reef health, and minimizing negative environmental impacts," said Dr. Ken Cokanasiga.

Certification and labeling of marine ornamentals is just one of the management options being discussed at the workshop. Other presentations throughout the day included an overview of the coral reefs in the region, the marine ornamentals trade in the Pacific, best management practices, and a session on industry management.

There are two main visions that have come out at the workshop. SPREP’s (South Pacific Regional Environment Programme) workshop coordinator Ms. Mary Power believes that it’s important for government and industry to work together to manage the industry through regulation and enforcement of policies, and that it would be irresponsible for government to simply delegate those duties to the industry.

"These mechanisms are unlikely to be fully effective without adequate and effective enforcement to ensure compliance," says Power. "You do need that oversight to keep people honest and to ensure that standards are being adhered to."

The other main vision that has come out during the day’s proceedings involves the idea that an impartial third-party should work directly with industries to ensure standards and practices are of a level where they can be "certified" and subsequently labeled as environmentally sustainable.

Further discussions and debates will continue on Tuesday.

The workshop is made possible through funding support provided by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

More Information? Fatu Tauafiafi: or Chris Peteru: 

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