OFI Shares Update on Indonesian Coral Trade Suspension
16 May, 2018
May 12, 2018 – During Interzoo 2018, OFI was able to organize a meeting with several of our members from Indonesia that are coral exporters, as well as AKKII (the Indonesian Coral Shell and Ornamental Fish Association) and the Executive Secretary of the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries. There is still some confusion around this temporary export ban and what it means to the industry, so an opportunity to have a discussion with the relevant ministry to get a better understanding of the situation and to highlight the impact of the suspension on industry was timely.
We asked the Executive Secretary if there was a specific reason behind the suspension and he indicated that there was no specific reason, but it was needed as part of the restructuring of the cooperative links between the ministry’s involvement with CITES permits and export certification, as well as strengthening surveillance and monitoring of the trade to ensure it meets management guidelines. He also indicated that Indonesia is embarking on a five-year plan, and part of this involved an assessment of the sustainable use and conservation of natural resources, including marine resources such as corals, finalizing the review in 2019 or 2020.
OFI highlighted the importance of having a sustainable industry that can provide livelihoods for the long term, which is a cornerstone of the OFI Charter, but also the extreme pressure this suspension puts on the industry. We also indicated that if the suspension remains in place for a long period of time, coral buyers will look to alternative sources for corals, jeopardizing the Indonesian coral export industry along with an industry estimate of $35 million of investment and 12,000 sustainable jobs in Indonesia. There is also a wider industry concern. While statistics are difficult to obtain, many industry sources indicate that coral exports from Indonesia account for 50 to 60% of the corals traded in our industry, so a protracted export ban will not only affect Indonesian exporters but also the wider worldwide industry and hobby, as there will be no other exporters that will be able to supply the volume of coral lost to the trade in the short term.
OFI asked the Executive Secretary if the Indonesian government might consider an interim measure whereby exporters could continue to trade to some degree while the issues behind the suspension are sorted out in order to protect the industry. The Executive Secretary indicated he would pass this on, and also that industry needs to present its case and may need to supply a risk analysis to support the industry’s case. OFI has endeavored to assist our Indonesian members and AKKII in this. First, we will be writing a letter to relevant ministers and their departments highlighting the significant impacts that this has on industry and jeopardizes the livelihoods of around 12,000 people who are employed in this industry. However, it is likely we will need industry support to help fund this work – a risk analysis will be expensive (NB: PIJAC’s fight is Hawaii has cost $300,000-plus), and we have already begun lobbying the industry to help with this, should it be needed. In the meantime, the Indonesian exporters asked for calm and patience from their customers and the industry, and they are working on the situation and hope to have a resolution soon.