I’m in Singapore, a wonderful city, attending Aquarama one of the major ornamental fish trade shows.
Aquarama is an annual trade show held at the Suntec Convention and trade center in Singapore. The show provides an opportunity for may segments of the industry to come together and network, see new products, conduct business, attend seminars and tour facilities.
The Trade Show
It is a large event strictly devoted to ornamental fish and invertebrates. The show is also well known for its fish and aquarium show. Here producers enter fish, planted tanks and marine aquarium displays. THey are judged by experts and the winners announced. It is another great way for producers to showcase their products.
The Fish Show
THere are also two days of educational seminars, addressing key issues in the industry. Topics covered over the past two days focused on international perspectives on a changing industry and maintaining of improving quality of the animals traded. Speakers from multiple countries provided a diverse range of views, experiences and opinions. Specific topics included:
- Resident-based Ornamental Fisheries in the Western Ghats, India: Managing Poverty Alleviation and Change at the community Level. – Dr. Rajeev Raghavan
- An update on Recent Biosecurity Changes and Their Impact on the Australian Ornamental fish Sector – Shane Willis, Australia
- Roadmap towards a “Green” Aquarium Industry – Scott Dowd, USA
- Eco-Freindly Marine Culture and Capture – A Mexican Perspective – Dr. Nuno Simoes, Mexico
- Potential Impacts of Climate Change on the Ornamental Fish Industry – Ryan Donnelly, Australia
- A New quality Assurance Scheme to Assure better Quality Ornamental Fish from Singapore – Poh Yew Kwang, Singapore
- Total Quality Management in the Aquarium Business – Dr. Anton Lamboj, Austria
- Fish Health and Biosecurity Issues in Retail Shops and Wholesale facilities – Dr. Gerald Bassaleer, The Netherlands
- DNA Multi-Scan a New Fish Disease Diagnostic Tool – Dr. Kris Willems, Belgium
- Implications of Epizootic Ulcerative Syndrome Legislation for the Ornamental Aquatic Industry – Somkiat Kanchanakhan, Thailand
- EU Fish Health Legislation: Clarifying the Confusion and Introduction of New Online Tool for the Successful Completion of Health Certificates for Import – Alex Ploeg, The Netherlands
- Invasive Ornamental Fish Species in Singapore: A Case Study – Dr. Ng Heok Hee, Singapore
- A Trade Perspective on Invasive Species – Sven Fossa, Norway
- A Profile of the Indian Ornamental Fish Industry with Special Focus on the Concerns of Key Players – Dr. Mini Sakharan, India
- Trends in Breeding Marine Aquarium Fish: Where Are We Today and Where Do We Need to Go? – Matthew Wittenrich, USA
- Where do Science, Industry, and Aquariums meet?Practical Applications for What Can Be From THings Learned in the Aquarium Hobby – Julian Sprung, USA
What I have taken away from these presentations and my discussions with industry members is that there are three emerging areas that all sectors of the industry must address in the next few years:
- The need for improved biosecurity throughout all sectors of the industry. THis is being driven by new emerging diseases as well as re-emerging diseases that not only pose a threat to the ornamental fish trade but also to the aquaculture industry for food fish and invertebrates. Consequently there is increased scrutiny by the regulatory bodies for national and international trade. THis is a truly global issue since ornamental fish are being exported from over 130 different countries.
- The need to address the issue of aquatic invasive species. There are many animals traded that could have significant invasive potential in many countries. Many of these are banned for import but are often included due to poor quality control at packing or a lack of awareness of the specific regulations and/or risks on the part of the exporters and importers. There is a need for more research characterizing the specific invasive pathways as well as improved outreach and education at all levels when it comes to aquatic invasive species.
- There is emerging pressure to develop specific guidelines that ensure adequate concern for animal welfare throughout all sectors of the industry. At this point the European Union and Australia appear to be the primary drivers though there are also emerging discussions on this topic in the United Staes as well. It is not inconceivable to envision specific regulations that would require documentation of adherence to specific welfare guidelines in order for ornamental fish to be exported to some of these countries. This would probably be very much like a health certificate. Obviously, this will be an area of much spirited debate and diplomacy since the definitions of welfare, the perceptions of an actual need for guidelines, and the appropriate methods for guideline development and enforcement vary dramatically across the globe.
These are all weighty issues that will not be addressed overnight. However, it is very important to continue discussions, continue to develop industry solutions and to maintain contact and educate key regulatory bodies about the industry. The key is to remain proactive. The alternative is regulatory requirements developed and implemented with little industry input. Not making a decision to address an issue is a decision but it may not be a very good one in this case.