An update on the Indonesian Ornamental Fish Industry

Nov 7 / Shane Wills
At our 2020 AGM, the decision was taken to expand the board of advisors to include an advisor from Indonesia and Sri Lanka, 2 of the largest exporters of ornamental fish, and numerous OFI members. The Indonesian members have selected Mr. Rajanta Sinardja Rahardja from Bellenz Fish Farm, Jakarta, as an interim advisor until this is confirmed at the next AGM. The role of advisors is to provide input to the executive on industry issues affecting their region/country, and the recent appointment of Rajanta is ideal timing to provide an update on what is currently happening in the Indonesian industry. Thanks, Rajanta, and welcome to the advisor's group.I am looking forward to working with you to further OFI's efforts in Indonesia and the region!
There is no doubt that COVID -19 has changed everyone's life in Indonesia and around the world. Many businesses have had to close their premises, and many of us have to work from home involuntarily. It also has had several positive and negative impacts on the ornamental fish industry, especially in Indonesia. The Indonesian government imposed a semi lockdown in many areas affected by the virus; however, some businesses are still permitted to operate, especially in the export and import business. Fortunately, the ornamental fish industry is included in the few businesses allowed to continue to fully function, but with strict social and physical distancing procedures within each premise, which exporters found easy to comply with as many of these COVID hygiene requirements were already in place at exporters facilities.Like other hobby industries, the ornamental fish industry had experienced an increase in sales beginning in May when many countries opened up their trade borders, and we were able to ship fish again. Demand for fish has been strong with many people that have to stay at home, we are bored and have to do some activities at home, and one of the activities was keeping fish at home again – an excellent thing for the hobby and trade. Many of the exporters whose businesses are prominent in the China market had been revived when China had opened its trade borders again. Finally, because some of the big exporting countries, such as Singapore, were still under a lockdown or reduced capacity due to local flights, Indonesia has taken some market share over the past few months. From all of this happening, however, the most significant negative impact came from the airline industry. The freight rate has risen close to three times the original rate before the pandemic. It was nearly impossible for customers to buy fish from us, not only for the rate increases but also for the reductions (significantly) the airline schedule. Often, we have to book weeks before we can get freight space, and there is also the constant risk that the booking is canceled with little or no notice. The freight rate increases also happened to our domestic flights adding to the cost of sourcing fish from breeders and collectors in Indonesia, which increases the price of our endemic fish that adds burden to our customers abroad.A post-Covid-19 future is still hard to predict, and therefore the future for the Indonesian industry is unclear. Even though more flights are available now, the impact of the lockdowns is still felt by the industry, with the number of international flights available to export fish only 30 to 40% of what was available pre- COVID. While there is no data available, overall exports are down on pre-COVID levels. Demand from international trade has impacted local production; for example, during China's lockdown, many Indonesian tetra breeders were affected by the drop in demand, and they had to overcome the fish overstock in their farms and reduce their production. The result was catastrophic to the supply of the fish when China and other markets opened. The farmers could not catch up with the demands, and most of the tetras available in the market now are small until production levels increase. In conclusion, the pandemic has created havoc and confusion in many companies in the ornamental fish industry and brought some opportunities to some who were more prepared to face the bad times. It is hoped that by the end of 2020, we will see a stabilization of demand and have a better understanding of the pandemic's long-term effects. Predictions are that the current reduced number of international flights is likely to continue to impact exports and, in particular, air freight prices which are still around double pre- COVID levels. However, with continued strong demand from consumers as they keep close to home, it is hoped the industry will see a resurgence with a renewed interest in our hobby.John – may be put this into a text box?

Coral Exports from Indonesia Update

Coral exports have been increasing out of Indonesia, with farmed corals initially being allowed for export, and more recently, wild corals now being exported. The export of corals now requires additional checks and documentation, including the Surat Keterangan Ketelusuran (Certificate of Origin) from the organization branch within the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries in order for the exporters to get the health certificate from the Marine and Fisheries quarantine office. With the growing export demand, many small coral farmers have returned to work, and the industry is slowly recovering and adjusting to the new regulations.
Corals have been exported to many countries except for Israel and EU countries for Wild coral export. The EU has limited their import to just cultured corals, which mainly includes the fast-grown corals (e.g., Acropora species) allowed. Slow growth cultured corals are still not allowed due to the fear of substation of cultured corals with wild colonies. The EU CITES have sent an official email with questions regarding cultured and wild coral export, and meetings between scientific and management authorities in Indonesia have taken place and response to this issue. Now the EU CITES are demanding a PDF (Non-Detriment Finding) before they will allow expansion of exports, and while work has begun on this already due to the COVID situation it will take time to complete the PDF. Rumors of illegal trading compound this issue, and some companies have been fined for not complying with documentation requirements. It is hoped that these irregularities are teething problems with operators adjusting to new regulations only and that illegal operators that give the industry a bad name do not return to the industry and cause another export ban.

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