An industry leader in the worldwide aquarium trade, Monsoon Aquatics has innovated since its humble beginnings in 2008. Monsoon Director Daniel Kimberley reflects on success, science and sustainability.
25 Nov 2021
Monsoon Aquatics began with an Aussie backyard, a tinny and a dream.
‘At first it was just me going out to the reef and snorkelling, reef walking and collecting,’ says Daniel Kimberley, Monsoon Aquatics Director.
Today the Northern Territory-based company is a world-leading exporter of sustainably sourced Aussie coral and marine life. With state-of-the-art facilities in Darwin, Cairns and Bundaberg, Monsoon Aquatics supplies retailers, wholesalers and public aquaria around the world.
It’s a success story that sees Monsoon Aquatics awarded the Australian Exporter of the Year at the 59th Australian Export Awards. Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Dan Tehan congratulated the exporter for its contribution to the economy. He also commended its sustainable exporting model.
‘Monsoon Aquatics is a fantastic example of the resilience and innovation in our export sector,’ Minister Tehan says.
Bringing the wonder of Australian reefs to the world
What makes Kimberley most proud is Monsoon Aquatics’ vision.
‘We believe in bringing the wonder and beauty of the coral reef to the world, so it can be enjoyed, understood, valued and protected,’ he says.
Monsoon Aquatics exports to Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East and the Americas. It leads the market in supplying the largest range of marine life in a single export shipment.
Monsoon Aquatics was the first company to export Territory coral to an international market in 2011. Exports now make up around 80% of its business.
‘That's all new money coming back into the Territory and into Australia,’ says Kimberley. ‘We’re really proud of that.’
A sustainable, scientific approach
Sustainability has always been top priority for Monsoon Aquatics. It pioneered the collection of live coral and fish from some of the Northern Territory’s most remote locations.
‘We don’t own the reef,’ says Kimberley. ‘It’s a shared resource for all Australians, so it’s our obligation to harvest sustainably.’
Monsoon Aquatics regularly contributes to scientific research. It works alongside organisations like the Australian Institute of Marine Science, James Cook University and Darwin Aquaculture Centre.
‘We’ve discovered multiple new species of fish,’ says Kimberley. ‘We’ve worked with the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory to have these named, described and published in the Journal of the Ocean Science Foundation.
‘We’ve also discovered a new type of coral unique to the region. We named it the Croc Island Scoly, a name synonymous with the Northern Territory.’
Monsoon Aquatics’ long-term goal is to be a pioneer in reef restoration efforts.
‘We’ve got the skills, the boats, the techniques, the aquaculture permits and the facilities,’ says Kimberley. ‘We really want to work in that space and replenish damaged parts of the reef.’
Monsoon Aquatics’ livestock is collected under strict, government-regulated licences. The company works with animals listed on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. This comes with a unique set of challenges.
‘The challenges have not been so much finding the customers,’ says Kimberley. ‘It’s getting the product to them legally. Each region has different requirements. There’s a lot of paperwork. It's quite complicated.’
But Monsoon Aquatics is prepared to go to great depths for its customers and the reef.
‘Collectively, our team has hundreds of years’ experience working in our niche industry,’ says Kimberley. ‘We have dedicated husbandry staff, customised tanks and modern filtration and lighting. Our facilities ensure our livestock is healthy and thriving at all times.’
The future is fishy
More recently, Monsoon Aquatics branched into aquaculture. It is working to spawn and grow its own corals. This arm of the business is a future focus, says Kimberley.
‘We can do that by fragging, which is propagating corals,’ he explains. ‘We cut them into small pieces to grow or spawn them.
‘We were lucky enough to win a federal government grant to work on our spawning project. We’re really excited for the future.’
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