Years ago Anthony Calfo came out to Tonga to do some consulting work for me. We talked about making artificial liverock at the time, even when we had quota for wild rock. But I knew in the future wild rock quota would be taken away and I wanted to have something to replace. Of course my predictions came true and few years ago, export of Tonga rock was banned. And due to corrupt partners, I got screwed on my investments and hard work and never was able to fully work on any projects, including the cultured liverock. But things are different now as I have good partners and even have my own license to work with!
In my opinion four things need to be considered when making artificial rock:
1. Must be made from readily available materials on the island.
2. Must be made from materials that do not come from the sea, to avoid Cites issues.
3. Must be light to make landed cost effective (very important).
4. Must be appealing, good shapes and sizes to compete with wild rock.
In the above picture I am holding two of these pieces. This picture was taken during one of my adventures in Indonesia.
I got the full story and couldn't believe my ears. After making tons of this rock and putting it into the ocean and taking care of it, the exporters that contracted out the local Balinese fishermen couldn't get permits to export the man made rock. The reason was that although the rock was man made, it sat out in the ocean and things grew on it. And these "things" need Cites to be exported. So the exporters were told that the rock could be exported but under wild Cites for liverock. Since the quota is very small for wild rock, there was no room for the man made stuff, customers of course chose natural over artificial. So at the time, about 5 years ago, there were literally tons and tons of this rock sitting out in the ocean bottom. I believe there must have been some sort of a misunderstanding with the government and the exporters.
Anyways that was Indonesia, but we are in Tonga now. For a fact we could get permits to export man made rock, but first got to make some! The above rock was made some time ago but never ended up in the ocean. Note the color is red. A red cement dye was used to make the base color more appealing. Evidently while I was journeying around in Indo, the South Pacific Commission (SPC) had come to Tonga to aid in making artificial rock. They had come and worked with the Tongan Fisheries in conjunction with the exporters to encourage cultured rock for export. Unfortunately after the training was done, no one ended up moving on with the project.
But I am back in Tonga and will start the aquaculuture liverock back up, along with a very special secret project that I've been wanting to do since the Indo days. I'll let you know when the time is right on that!
Time to take a break before the fun begins!
Ok guys that is it for today. I will have the second part of this thread in the coming days. I hope you like this topic as I feel it is one of the more important subjects that I have covered on my blog. Until next time...