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The Straits Times, 5 Aug 05

AVA protects marine life by regulating trade
Reply from the AVA

Letter to the Straits Times Forum Page, 22 Jul 05

Act to protect marine life
by Ng Chee Heong

IN THE wake of the movie Finding Nemo, which was made to raise public awareness about marine life, many anemone fish are sold in shops.

Then there are the razorfishes, nudibranches, frogfishes, the elusive mandarinfishes, harlequin shrimps and even garden eels, not to mention corals, anemones and tube worms. Not surprisingly, many of these die in the shops.

Enough has been said about the additional care needed for marine aquariums.

My questions are to the authorities. I believe that shops have to declare that they are selling marine life prior to a licence being given.

Are there any restrictions on the type of marine life being sold - have they to be bred in captivity or can they be taken from the sea? Are there any restrictions on the amount that can be taken from the sea? If there are, do the authorities have a monitoring system in place?

Ng Chee Heong

The Straits Times, 5 Aug 05
AVA protects marine life by regulating trade

I REFER to the letter, 'Act to protect marine life' (ST, July 22), by Mr Ng Chee Heong. We thank Mr Ng for his feedback.

Under the Animals and Birds Act, a licence from the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) is required to import and export marine life. AVA contributes to the protection of endangered marine life by regulating the trade.

Marine species such as stony corals, giant clams and sea horses are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites). A Cites permit must be obtained from AVA before any Cites species can be imported for trade. All shipments must also be covered by a Cites certificate for trade issued by the proper authority in the exporting country.

Any marine ornamental fish trader who plans to set up a shop to trade in marine life is also required to apply for a pet-shop licence from AVA. The licence would be issued only after AVA has inspected and is satisfied that the facilities are properly and adequately set up for the display and sale of marine life. In addition, AVA conducts routine checks on the shops to ensure that there is no illegal trade and that animal welfare is not compromised.

Apart from Cites-protected marine species, there is no restriction on the quantity and source of marine life being traded as long as the importers obtain the necessary licences and permits from AVA and adhere to all licensing conditions.

The public can also play a part in protecting marine life. Anyone who has information on unlicensed sale of marine life can contact AVA on 6471-9995.

Goh Shih Yong
Assistant Director Corporate Communications
for Chief Executive Officer
Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority
Ministry of National Development

More info on the issue:
Bringing Ornamental Fish into Singapore on the AVA website
Responsible Ornamental Fisheries by Devin Bartley Fishery Resources Division on the Food and Agriculture Organisation, UN website
Working on import restrictions to better manage coral reef resources by Caroline Raymakers, Director, TRAFFIC Europe TRAFFIC Dispatches No. 20 Feb 2003
CITES and the global coral trade on the ARKive website

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