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The Uncertain Future of Seasmart

Reef Soft CoralA few months ago I wrote about SeaSmart, a new program/company planning to revolutionize the way livestock is collected and handled, before it ends up in a local retail store. The program was working out extremely well, with an influx of sustainable Papua New Guinea fish to the market every week. The aquaculture portion of the company was on the verge of sending out the first coral frags in the coming months.

Suddenly, at the end of last year, exports from PNG stopped.

It wasn’t until a press release from EcoEZ, (the company that created and managed the Seasmart program), stated that collection and export of livestock was cut off due to cut in funds from the Papua New Guinea Government in the final quarter of 2010. EcoEZ is taking legal action in hopes to recover the money lost, so that operations can continue and fish can begin to make it to the US again.

Shortly after EcoEZ made their statement, the PNG National Fisheries Authority (NFA) made their own, explaining their side of the story. The NFA claims that it ceased funding to the Seasmart program because they did not feel that the performance from EcoEZ was satisfactory. They stated that initially, the program was working out well, which is why the contract was extended. Over time however, EcoEZ began to realize things were not being done as they should have been. Since EcoEZ could not develop a “viable business model”, the obligations in the contract were not met, thus leading to the cut in funding.

The PNG NFA does not want want to end the Seasmart program, they would like to continue to build the program under their own supervision. Once everything is legally settled, the hope is to keep the current employees and continue as things were before the dispute. Hopefully, we will see the benefits of the coral aquaculture program sometime next year.

Aerial View Port Moresby, PNGWe can all hope that everything is settled soon, and Seasmart’s ideas can live on and spread throughout the world. There are many locations around the world where collection practices are sub par, unsustainable and even harmful to the environment. If Seasmart can implement their collection processes in other locations throughout the Indo-Pacific region, tropical reefs may have one less thing to worry about in the future.

Thanks for reading, we’ll be sure to give an update on the situation as it progresses. Hopefully there will be a positive outcome!

Cory

Aerial View Port Moresby image referenced from wikipedia and originally posted by Mark Matson

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About Cory Shank

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Cory is one of our Staff Marine Biologists and has been with the company since 1999. He has always had an interest in fish and inverts started soon after his employment began, and laid the path for him to earn his Marine Bio degree From Millersville University just a couple of years ago. Since graduation, Cory has been propagating many different corals including LPS and SPS and maintaining both his own reef aquaria and several at our retail store. His interests besides propagation include snorkeling, environmentalism, travel, and anything relating to reefs and oceans.