Way back in 1972 before there
was coral and live rock in aquariums I was an avid saltwater
hobbyist that made regular visits to my local pet stores in
Chicago. While studying Architecture at the University of
Illinois I became hopelessly addicted to finding out where
every pet shop in Chicago was that carried salt water fish
to feed the seven tanks I had in my two bedroom apartment.
It wasn’t long after that I decided to find work as an
Architect on the west coast in California to be near the
ocean that has become my passion and be near the tide pools
and ocean life. After searching high and wide during a
recession I soon realized that a job was not available but I
was not willing to leave the coast where I had easy access
to the sea. I began calling my friends in the pet stores in
Chicago to sell them what I was able to find in the tide
pools and my career in this wonderful and fascinating
industry began. I soon got a job at a LA wholesaler to
“learn the ropes” and after about a year started the first
service of its kind by hand picking fish orders from the few
LA wholesalers that existed at that time to service the fish
stores around the country that were seeking better quality
and more variety.
After about 16 years as the only “hand picked” service (at
that time) in LA I got an opportunity to move to Tonga in
1989 to run an export station that was in need of
supervision. Soon after I arrived in Tonga with my wife
Deborah and two small children the owners of the station
decided to quit but I refused to leave and bought the
license to start on my own. This was the time that Reef
Tanks were building in popularity and the timing was right
since I was more interested in the coral as a new horizon
After almost 7 successful years in Tonga the Fiji Government
invited me to expand my operation to Fiji and help set the
standards of an emerging industry through our sustainable
and responsible harvest policies. I was also attracted to
the potential of more flights and larger reefs to service my
customers and better schools and lifestyle for my family.
The frequent flights with larger planes made it possible to
expand the Live Rock export and “Fiji Premium” was born.
In 1998 I ran my first experiments in coral farming in Fiji
and was highly enthused with the success of this pioneering
effort. In about the same year I also began to experiment
with artificial live rock. Today I have over 90,000 pieces
of coral that we planted on racks in the sea and more than
100 tons of man-made live rock at all times in the on
various farm sites throughout Fiji. I have been credited as
a pioneer in this field and am honored to be a part of an
industry that I love with a passion.
In all this time Deborah has been by my side as my partner
and is an integral part of the business and my children have
grown and are now on their own with Fiji as their homeland.
We have received the “International Ecotourism Award” in
2007 for our “Coral Walk” at the Hideaway resort in Fiji and
are proud to say that we have taught thousands of visitors
the responsible and sustainable way that a resource can be
beneficial to the local economy.
PRODUCT INFO •
Walt Smith International Fiji Ltd • PO BOX 4466 • Lautoka, Fiji Islands