One of the big questions I asked when writing about the shutoff of SEASMART funding last week, was “why?”  Well, once again, we now have answers.  Overnight, PNG’s NFA (National Fisheries Authority) released a response to EcoEZ’s press release announcing a lawsuit to recover funds owed to it for the last 3-4 months of 2010.  It seems that two versions of the same basic press release are now available on the internet, so I’ll provide links to both:
The “short” press release, first released on Reef Addicts and then on Reef Builders with a bit of commentary from Jake Adams.  Then, there is the “long” press release, which appears more official, and includes a bit more insights on the dispute.  So far, I have only seen this longer press release at CORAL Magazine’s website.
Again, I’m going to refrain from writing very much about the general situation here.  It does sound like a bridge may have been burned.  Suggestions are that PNG will continue working towards a sustainable marine aquarium trade, but that EcoEZ may not be a part of the governmental project.  The largest question remains…why, so close to the end of the contract, did PNG’s FMA opt to pull funding vs. just riding out the program.  While this press release gives us general reasons why,  I wonder if the damage in terms of PR, but also in terms of continuity of business, might be greater than the amount of money that was withheld in the short term.  Being outsiders, we are certainly left to speculation and theorizing with only the facts we are provided.  It seems like the premature “pulling of the plug” on funding may have been the right move for the FMA from a short-term stewardship perspective, but perhaps not the right move from a business perspective in the long-term.
What about the impact, if any, on The Lighting Project?  At the moment, there’s no change of plans.  This press release suggests the earliest exports would resume is the middle of 2011 – 6 months off.  This means no chance at potential PNG broodstock for 6 months at least, and that assumes that the PNG FMA is able to deliver on that promise.  I’m not one to hold my breath at this point, nor am I going to make the Lightning Maroon wait that long on hope.  Besides, in 6 month’s time, the Lighting Maroon could be laying eggs…