Fiji Foxface from Walt Smith International. The species is also called the Bicolor Foxface, Siganus uspi.

If you’re trying to escape to Fiji anytime soon, you’ll quickly will find out that Fiji has stopped all flights in and out until further notice as the government enforces a strict travel ban to stop the spread of coronavirus. (As of April, it appears to be working, as the country has had just 18 cases reported.)

Walt Smith in Fiji, April 2020. “Bula Vinaka!”

Word has it that a reopening could not be until June, and there are whispers it might be December. This would normally spell disaster for any exporter that requires their cargo to be transported by air—and live tropical fish need to be transported by air.

“But wait,” said marine livestock exporter Walt Smith, “there is finally some good news!” Fiji Airways has stepped up to help exports continue. Although there will be no passengers allowed on the flights they will have one flight per week to Los Angeles, Sydney (Australia) and Auckland (New Zealand).

Walt Smith was forced to return most of the fish he had in stock back to the ocean to keep them healthy during the shut down. He says the company, which he runs in partnership with his wife Deb, is now busy bringing his divers back to work and filling up the tanks once again with fish ready for the first export on Friday, May 1st and every Friday after that.

Walt reports that “demand is very high” from his customers right now. He say that he is unsure what is going on with the rest of the supply chain around the world, but he can assure us that “the wholesalers will be stocked with the many hand-caught varieties that come from Fiji waters.

A source close to the situation in Fiji says that the country’s ban on exports of corals and live rock continues, but efforts continue behind the scenes to allow a resumption of sustainable trade in these products.

Message to Aquarium Trade from WSI

via Walt Smith International

Bula Vinaka to all our valued and potential customers from the beautiful tropical Fiji Islands

Deb Smith, WSI partner and contact with many in the aquarium trade. Fiji, April 2020.

Amidst the chaos of COVID-19, we are happy to advise that our borders are now open for export. At this point our National Carrier, Fiji Airways, is scheduling one cargo flight a week, hence we are again able to start fulfilling new orders. Our highly trained and dedicated divers and administration team are working tirelessly to ensure there’s enough stock for your upcoming orders.

We will be sending an updated stock report on the 27th of April, 2020, for the upcoming LAX live shipment on the 1st of May, 2020.

Our prayers are with you during this difficult time. Stay Safe and Healthy, God Bless you and your families.

Warm Regards,

Team Walt Smith

Walt Smith International's Reef Rock

Walt Smith International’s Reef Rock

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