|Rigid laws and bans bottleneck exports
Over the past few weeks, we have been in close contact with both our Sri Lankan Adviser, Vibhu Perera (Lumbini Aquaria Wayamba Ltd.) and Roger Ratnayake (Samudra Aquarist Fish Gate (Pvt) Ltd.) regarding the various ongoing crises currently being experienced in the country. In Rogers case, our contact has been, not just in his capacity as an Ornamental Fish International (OFI) member, but also as Sectoral Head of the Tropical Fish Exporters Sector (TFES) of the National Chamber of Exporters (NCE).
Roger informs us that the Sri Lankan ornamental aquatic industry is facing further restrictions with regard to aquatic plants. It is reported that "an excessively rigid application of quarantine laws and bans" regarding the import of aquatic plants into Sri Lanka is bound to inflict significant damage to the export industry. The reason for this is that if Sri Lankan companies have to face over-stringent import legislation, they will no longer be able to broadbase tropical fish exports with the inclusion of a wide selection of plants. The result of bans and restrictions which could apply just as stringently to potentially invasive species as to non-invasive ones could therefore prove counter-productive. It could also encourage illegal importation, something that every legitimate operator, government and conservation agency as well as OFI would condemn.
This debate is currently in its early stages and much has to be discussed and clarified. A great deal of common ground is undoubtedly shared by all the parties concerned and with an open mind and a constructive approach a satisfactory all round solution should be possible. OFI would hope to play an active and significant role in any attempt to achieve an all-round acceptable goal. - (OFI Journal)
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