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In Memoria - Dr Alex Ploeg and Family

  Our dear friend and former Secretary General Dr Alex Ploeg sadly passed away with his wife and son in the terrorist attack on Flight MH-17 in the Ukraine on Thursday, 17 July 2014. Alex was  an integral part of OFI and we have sadly missed him not only as a hard working colleague, but also as a friend. 

Listed below are just some of the messages of condolence sent by OFI members and the wider aquarium industry.

Rest in peace!

Messages of Condolences for Alex and Family

OFI (Ornamental Fish International) has received the terrible news that its Secretary General, Dr. Alex Ploeg, his wife Edith, their son Robert and his friend Robin, perished in the plane crash above Ukraine on Thursday, 17 July. They were on their way to a well-deserved and much-anticipated vacation in Asia.

Our condolences go out to their daughters, Mirjam and Sandra, family and friends.

The loss of Alex and Edith is immeasurable to OFI. Alex was much appreciated worldwide and a fount of knowledge about our industry. He was a keystone, not only for us, but also for EPO (European Pet Organization), Dibevo (the Dutch Pet Trade Association) and other organizations.

Alex’s vast amount of contacts ranged from ministers to top civil servants in Brussels, Den Hague, Singapore and elsewhere, but also with workers on the floor, breeders and collectors. When he spoke, everyone in our industry listened.

His ability to express complex issues simply and logically made him a much-asked-for speaker at international conferences.

Gerald Bassleer

Roberto Hensen

Roberto Hensen: Former Secretary General OFI: My wife and I have known Alex and Edith for more than 25 years when he and I were breeding fish together on the island of Bonaire in the Caribbean. Even though we moved to different continents, we never lost touch and I have seen his children grow into wonderful adults. A few years ago he asked me to assist him in the OFI secretariat and I gladly accepted, and he, Edith and I worked very well together as good friends in mutual respect and understanding and with a lot of humor.


Gerald Bassleer, Former OFI President: I worked closely with Alex over the past 8 years and he has taught me about the world of NGOs, politics, negotiations, the future of OFI, good food, humor, etc. We will miss him and Edith and our task is to continue much stronger with the pathway they prepared for our industry, friends and relatives. This tragedy has affected us deeply. We have lost very special people and for us, Alex, Edith and Robert will be missed forever. 

Svein A. FossÃ¥ - OFI, EPO & NZB: I have worked closely with Alex in OFI and the European Pet Organization (EPO) for more than a decade.  He surprised everyone with his enormous knowledge and immense intellectual capacity, and captured people's hearths through his genuine friendliness. Alex and I effectively cooperated in meetings, seminars and conferences all over the world. More importantly however, we shared fantastic moments together as close friends with a deep mutual respect and understanding, sometimes joined by his family. We have had fun! Alex, Edith and Robert will leave a void that will be difficult to fill. 

Sun Sun and Theresia - Aquazone Indonesia: Alex, the hardworking man to promote the growth of aquatic industry and building OFI, the man who always available to provide the best advices and support for us, but the most thing we will miss about is your fatherly, caring smile, hugs, and warm welcome we always get from you and Edith every time we met. To us, we have lost a very close friend. Alex and Edith, you will be greatly missed and we surely will keep the good memories in our hearts. Rest in Peace Alex, Edith, Robert, and Robin. Our thought and condolences go out to Mirjam and Sandra who have lost the families .

Alex Chang PhD., Qian Hu Corporation : Dr. Alex Ploeg is one of the few outstanding Dutch that has made a great impact in the ornamental fish industry worldwide. A man that is always jovial and focused. He was representing OFI as the Secretary General since 2004, and that was when we first met him and he was pouring us with information and was giving us a very condensed but very concise breakdown of what is OFI . We were utterly impressed with his enthusiasm and knowledge. Alex became friends with all of us in Qian Hu and when we met on many occasion , we were always sharing our views and knowledge and most importantly talking about life and future. Alex has given his life time to the ornamental fish industry, and was never stingy on sharing his knowledge and advise to all.  His legacy will live on forever. Alex, our friend , our guru, you will always be in some part of our life and will be remembered forever.  Alex, Edith, Robert and Robin... 

Rest In Peace.

John and Vivian Dawes - Former OFI Secretary General and Administrator: Alex was a BIG man...and not in physical stature alone.Always with a ready smile, he was also a giant within the international ornamental aquatic industry community, equally admired and respected everywhere he went. Having known him for over 20 years and worked closely with him for the majority of these, we can unreservedly say that will be sorely missed, not only by those of us who knew him well, but also by countless others within the sector who have experienced and benefitted from the many contributions that he has made in his dealings with governments, agencies and other decision-making bodies related to the industry. Our thoughts are now with his two surviving daughters, Mirjam and Sandra, who, somehow, have to face the horrendous prospect of life without their father, mother and brother, taken from them in a moment of unbridled madness.


Keith Davenport, OATA: First and foremost Alex and Edith were lovely people.  Good natured, friendly and humorous were just a few of their qualities. I was lucky to meet and know them both and I will miss them. I did not know their son Robert directly but Alex and I did exchange family stories. On a professional level I spoke to Alex regularly, often daily. We co-operated on many issues of relevance to the UK ornamental trade. We never tried to decide who achieved what when we were successful rather enjoying our success in working together. Alex provided the working basis of species which was used  in the recent Import of Live Fish Act revision. The quality of his work is reflected by so few noticing any difference. He, I and colleagues in Germany worked to remove the threat of import controls that could have followed if a listing of species susceptible to EUS (a fungal disease that can affect many tropical species and be carried by cold water species) had not been revoked by the EU. When the Invasive Regulation was in the European Parliament he unselfishly made sure I was invited to see to see key MEP's and to various meetings. His knowledge, his contacts, his style (always well informed and organised prior to meetings) his openness and willingness to collaborate on and discuss issues means he will be missed by those who knew him and by the global industry.

Zhang Qi and Fan Tianjin,  Longhun International: Alex, such a nice person. We met each other in Fuzhou Ornamental Fish Competition 2012.We became good friends. He was a hardworking man. We learned from him what OFI does for the trade and joined as member. We had a lot of nice talks about the trade, work ,family and life. We do cherish the time we had together, Alex, Edith, Robert, Robin rest in peace. 

Robert Jan van den Enden – Aquatic Wholesale Group – Netherlands: I just returned from Singapore, everyone in our industry is devastated with the loss of Alex, Edith, Robert and his friend Robin. Alex started our tropical fish activities back in 1997 for which we owe him great thanks, we have worked with Alex closely in OFI Netherlands and later in OFI International and where happy when Edith joined to take care of the accounting part for OFI. Alex has played an irreplaceable role in expanding the OFI network and building relations with officials World Wide, Most of all Alex was always there, totally independent without prejudice, just helping all off us in the same fair way. I do not think anyone in our industry has made more friends then Alex, Alex and Edith will be greatly missed. We cannot even imagine the feeling of this unexpected loss for his daughters Mirjam and Sandra, their family and friends and wish them strength in handling this enormous loss.

Jennifer Lee UBM Media (Singapore) Pte Ltd: Alex was a very well respected, knowledgeable, humble, smart, witty good friend and mentor, who guided me through the ornamental fish trade world. In our very short four years, we have met at exhibitions, eaten our way through them and laughed. He also generously shared, and helped me get up to speed with Aquarama in the beginning.  Most recently, we have been discussing and looking forward to OFI’s 30th anniversary bash for the coming Aquarama. We would speak almost weekly on Skype to catch up, help each other, check on stuff and share on contacts. He has always been there for us, very prompt and impartial. Goodbye Alex, my big Dutch friend…you are sorely missed. Goodbye Edith and Robert. May you rest in peace. Till we meet again. Very best regards.

All people of Aquarium Glaser : Shocked and deeply touched we take fare-well of Alex, Edith and Robert. Alex was our companion for many years, not only as secretary general of OFI but also as a colleague during his years at Aqua log. Owing to his winning personality and his outstanding communication skills he knew marvelously how to bring people together. What has happened is inconceivable. However, we stay assured that Alex will survive not only in our memories but also in the success of the ornamental fish business: we definitely owe to his unfailing commitment and his great negotiation skills that the first drafts for the European fish health directive (2006/88), disastrous for the ornamental fish business, had not been realized. Due to Alex’ intense and constructive intervention in Brussels a policy has developed, which ensures a reasonable and effective disease control, but still did not needlessly obstruct or even eliminate the international ornamental fish business in Europe. The same applies to Alex’ efforts during the late stage of converting the Epizootic Ulcerative Syndrome within the EU. Both would have led to extreme encumbrances of the entire ornamental fish business without Alex’ activities. Thereby the mutual work of Alex and Edith continues living on every single day in our company and in all other European ornamental fish enterprises as well as the ones related to Europe. Dear Alex, Dear Edith, we are deeply grateful for that! Our thoughts are with all those, who were very close to Edith, Alex, Robert and Robin, especially with Miriam and Sandra! And we hope that their death, representative for all the innocent people who lost their lives, may lead to a rethinking of all responsible in this terrible conflict!

Kjell Fohrman / Fohrman Aquaristik AB: Over the years I have met Alex many times at Interzoo and Aquarama and also on OFI-meetings. I always appreciated his professionalism and great know-how, and I had many rewarding and interesting discussions with him. The work he has done for the OFI and the trade has been extremely important for all of us. In recent years I have also met Edith multiple times and it has been a great pleasure to meet both these nice people who always had a smile on their lips and I always looked forward to seeing them at the next exhibition. We are many people that will miss them and I express my deepest condolences to their family and particularly to Alex' and Edith's daughters Mirjam and Sandra for the loss of their parents and their brother Robert.


Josiah, Daniel, Adam and the entire Aquarium Industries family: We were very saddened to hear the news of the unfortunate passing of Alex, Edith, Robert and Robin in an event that just simply should not have happened. OFI forms a linkage across the entire supply chain of ‘our’ industry and while OFI has a number of dedicated people and board members, none work harder, are more passionate or commit themselves to our industry as a whole than Alex. Whether this be liaising and assisting breeders and wild fish collectors in remote parts of India, Brazil or Indonesia just to mention a few through to representing the industry to politicians and law makers, Alex was the voice and face of OFI. While, he will be sorely missed, as others have already mentioned he has left the organisation in a very strong position that will ensure his legacy lives on. Rest in peace our friend.

Mary Low, SAFEA Secretariat: We would like to extend our Deepest Condolences to the family of the late OFI-Secretary Mr & Mrs Alex Ploeg and their Son Robert. The Committee Management & Members of Singapore Aquarium Fish Exporters’ Association (SAFEA). Thank you so much.

Andrew Lim, President, World Guppy Association: 17th March 2014 marks the darkest day in the whole aquatic industry. Dr Alex Ploeg, his wife Edith and son Robert together with a friend were killed on MH17, which was shot down by unknown missiles at the border of Russia and Ukraine. This shocking news came to me a few hours after the plane crashed and I just couldn’t believe that a man with big ambitions and a kind heart had left us for good ! Alex has been a good friend to me for the past 12 years, serving together as a role of mentor and also we have been traveling to many parts of the world together, conducting seminars, visiting fish farms, cold beers after a hectic and tiring days at the hotel lobby, touring around the zoo and aquarium shops in Amsterdam and having home-cooked dinner at his house . He left nothing for me but sweet memories, lots of knowledge of ornamental fish and reptiles! Having served as the Secretary General for more than 10 years, Alex worked very hard to promote the growth and development of aquatic industries. The departure of Alex is a total loss to the whole industry and it resembles the toppling of a giant. His smile will always be in our hearts ! His works will be remembered ! And his spirit will always be with us! 

Rest in Peace Dr Alex Ploeg !

Steve, Dolphin: Words cannot express when I got this news last week shortly after it happened I felt like the breath and my body just went a bit limp. Such a tragedy and horrible thing. I will always remember Alex’s kind heart and jovial spirit along with a fantastic ability to connect with people and an immense knowledge of our industry. Edith was always there helping in all ways she could.   Things will never be the same after such a tragedy. It was a blessing to have known Alex and his family and now such a terrible loss. Blessings to you and your family and our prayers are with the daughters and all of you.

Aqualog - Germany: The news that Alex Ploeg, together with his wife Edith, their son Robert, and his friend Robin, were among the victims of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 leaves us devastated. Such a sudden death among one's circle of friends would probably leave anyone in shock. We had only recently had a laugh with Alex and Edith at Interzoo. And now they were dead? The politics of the world at large had intruded into our little hobby world and Alex and his family had become victims in the process. Many of us had the honor to work and laugh with Alex for more than a decade now, from 2001 to 2004 he was a highly respected part of our Aqualog staff and many of his ideas have influenced this company ever since. Aquarists will remember Alex as the Crenicichla man. He described 24 new species in this, the most species-rich of all cichlid genera, and in particular the gorgeous dwarf species C. compressiceps and C. regani will always remain linked to Alex's name. But his greatest service to the aquarium hobby remains virtually unknown to the general public. Because of his diplomatic and obliging nature Alex was a respected participant at all the important conferences and congresses relating to the hobby, and someone that people listened to. His expert knowledge, his negotiating skills, and his numerous personal contacts enabled him to divert some of the proposed EU-wide legislative measures affecting the entire aquarium hobby or moderate them to a realistic level that all those affected could live with. Alex Ploeg, citizen of the world and international diplomat in matters relating to the aquarium hobby, will be greatly missed in the major future challenges that our hobby faces. Farewell to Edith, Alex, Robert and Robin. Our heartfelt sympathy goes to Mirjam and Sandra, family and friends.

William A.Tomey: I cannot find the words to express our feelings by the loss of the Ploeg family, traveling in the MH 17. Only a few days before this tragic event Alex  visited us en told about his holyday planning, looking forward to new diving adventures together with his son en spending a lot of time in the free nature together.  We were good friends since long and he was a regular visitor to our home in The Hague. This way he kept us on course with OFI,  Dibevo and EPO. All over the years our ties were strong and only a few weeks ago we were talking about his personal future and I felt baffled by his information that he never thought about that. We will miss them dearly. Best wishes under these sad circumstances and best regards.

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