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Uncertain Seas Ahead for Nemo?

Bali Becoming Center for Decorative Live Fish Trade as Experts Warn Fish Supply Under Threat of Extinction.

(11/27/2010) The Indonesian Ministry of the Fisheries and Maritime Affairs is targeting Bali to become a center of trade for decorative salt-water fish. According to Beritabali.com, Bali currently ships the largest number of decorative live fish when compared to other Indonesian gateways.

An expert staff of the Ministry, Suseno Sukoyono, speaking at a national symposium of decorative fish held in Bali on November 23, 2010, revealed that Bali contributes US$1 million to the estimated US$10 million in annual decorative fish exports for all of Indonesia. Pointing to the variety of fish species shipped from Bali and its popularity as an export port for fish suppliers across eastern Indonesia, Sukoyono labeled Bali as an "icon" and "trading center" of the decorative fish trade.

According to Sukoyono, 70% of Indonesia's decorative fish trade is taken up by Europe and the U.S.A with 10% going to China. He hopes that in the coming years the market to China will increase significantly.

Decorative Fish Stocks Under Threat

In the face of Bali's growing role as a center for the decorative fish trade is the warning from marine biologists that Indonesia's decorative fish population may be extinct in as little as ten years.

The Director of the Nature Conservation Foundation, Gayatri, blamed the growing commercial exploitation of decorative fish and the lack of any clear concept from the government on how to regulate the trade in a sustainable way. Said Gayatri, "the are few policies and no data on where fish are being captured all resulting in an increasingly damaged habitat for these fish.

Gayatri bemoaned that the government seems only concerned with growing export numbers in decorative fish, a policy which results in over-fishing. At the same time there is little regard to protecting natural habitats within the context of creating a sustainable decorative fish industry.