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The OFI Award

The OFI Award is presented to individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the aquarium industry, it is the peak recognition of the persons selfless contribution to make our industry better.


The updated Criteria for Awarding the OFI Award (OFI Executive Board, January 2006)

1)  The candidate must have contributed to the positive development of the ornamental aquatic industry.

2)  The candidate must be of undisputed reputation within OFI and outside OFI, and should not be informed about their candidacy before the award is confirmed.

3)  Members of the OFI Executive Board, the President, or the Secretary General can not be candidates. No candidate can be proposed on the basis of work he/she has done for OFI, and has received payment partly or in full  for the work.

Past Recipients of the OFI Award

2020: Scott Dowd (USA) co-Founder of Project Piaba

It is with great pleasure that OFI announces Mr Scott Dowd, co-founder of Project Piaba, the 2020 OFI Award for his work with Amazonian ornamental fisheries and sustainable livelihoods for the indigenous people of the Amazon.

Scott Dowd has dedicated years to research in the sustainable livelihoods of high-value aquarium fish for people residing in areas of critical biological importance to thrive in a way that makes it a viable way to preserve the Amazon tropical forests and waterways. Project Piaba works with fishing communities, providing training and mentoring to improve fishing techniques and supply chain logistics which improves livelihood outcomes for indigenous people, as well as promoting these fish to markets in the USA and beyond. Scott has published widely, including the OFI Journal on Project Piaba's work and is recognised widely for his work in the industry. His tireless work in developing and promoting sustainable collection in the Amazon to help provide sustainable livelihoods for indigenous peoples is highly commendable and he is well respected in the industry for these contributions. 

2018: Shigezo Kamihata  (Japan) – Kamihata Industries (Presented posthumously)

Mr Shigezo Kamihata who sadly passed on December 25, 2017 at the age of 91 has posthumously been awarded the 2018 OFI Award for his for his pioneering work for the aquatic industry in Japan and internationally.

His deep passion for fish lead to him founding the Kamihata Fish Group of companies which compromise of farms, import and export, as well as manufacturing of feeds and allied products through Hikari Aquatic laboratory. He was also an adventurer and lead, as well as funded, many expeditions to remote locations around the world gathering information on rare species, as well as discovering new species.

With this award OFI recognises his lifetime contributions of dedication and development of the modern ornamental fish hobby, as well as the inspiration and legacy his group of companies leave to industry and hobbyists around the world.

2016:   Keith Davenport (UK)

Keith Davenport of OATA has been awarded the 2016 OFI Award for his for his immense work for the aquatic industry in the UK and internationally, and his unlimited willingness to share information and cooperate with colleagues across the globe. Keith has been Chief Executive Officer of the UK trade organisation OATA since 1991 and became a true leading light in the community of trade associations working with ornamental aquatic industry issues. He is always the first to share information with others, and is always eager to discuss thoughts and issues, strategies and road map. OFI has maintained a close working relationship with Keith and OATA and hope this continues after his retirement later this year.

2015:   Edith & Alex Ploeg (Netherlands) – presented posthumously



Edith & Alex Ploeg

This year the Award was given by OFI, posthumously, to Alex and Edith Ploeg. For many years Alex was the OFI Secretary General and Edith the OFI administrator. Due to their exemplary efforts OFI became a respected organization representing the Aquarium Industry in many different international platforms. Through their tireless efforts OFI members are well known as trusted business partners using ethical practices.

2014:   Gayatri Reksodirhardjo-Lilley (LINI, Indonesia)

Gayatri Reksodirhardjo-Lilley

Mrs. Reksodihardjo-Lilley is the founder and inspirer of the non government alorganization LINI. Mrs. Reksodihardjo-Lilley emphasizes that nature conservation and trade can go hand in hand and can support each other, if done properly. She supports the local industry in such a way that it will support the reefs and on the other hand supports the livelihoods of local fishermen in Indonesia. She urges the industry to take nature conservation ideas into consideration in their trade. In her, we also honor the staff of LINI for their good work! OFI supports LINI’s vision and for this reason OFI cooperates with LINI and supports the organization.

2013:   Rick Datodi (Australia)

Rick Datodi

Rick has shared his expert knowledge over many years with suppliers and colleagues, to the benefit of the Australian industry and beyond.

Rick Datodi was the founder and Managing Director of Aquarium Industries Pty Lt d, the largest importer/wholesaler of aquarium fish in Australia and has be en involved in the business for more than 40 years. Based in Melbourne the company is still operating today distributing fish around Australia. Rick h as developed a thorough knowledge about all aspects of fish keeping which h as helped his company remain as the dominant player in the Australian market.

2011:   UBM Asia (Singapore)

UBM Asia

UBM Asia Trade fairs, the organiser of Aquarama. Where Singapore has always been the capital of the ornamental aquatic industry, Aquarama has been the biannual meeting place for this industry.

The organiser of Aquarama through the years, Expoconsult, Miller Freeman, CMP Asia, and now UBM Asia, always have had a heart for this industry, promoting it in the best possible way. Trade seminars, hobby seminars, fish competitions, farm visits, they all have contributed to the popularisation of the industry. This was over the years further promoted by a huge stakeholder involvement. Stakeholders like OFI, like SAFEA, but also with a huge involvement of the Singapore hobby association. The involvement of AVA in Singaporealso has contributed to the success of the show through the 12 editions.

2010:   Anil Kumar P. (MPEDA, Inda)

Anil Kumar P.

This year’s laureate has a masters degree in mariculture and for a long time specialized in shrimp farming, first in commercial enterprises and since 2000 for his government in MPEDA, the Marine Products Export Development Authority, the veterinary authority and the export promotion agency of India. It must have been there that he developed an interest in ornamental fish. In 2003 he became Assistant Director MPEDA 

In 2006 the laureate became responsible for the ornamental fish sector in M PEDA. We have witnessed how one man pushed for the development of our industry far beyond what may have been expected from him as a government official. His personal expertise became available to many in the Indian industry and he made sure that well known international experts could give their input to the Indian industry. 

In his period with MPEDA, and with strong support from Director Mr. Kuruvilla Thomas and MPEDA Chair Mohan Kumar, Indaquaria developed to an event of (inter)national importance. This event is unique worldwide in the ornamental fish industry as 400 exporters, breeders, representatives from NGO’s and scientists come together, from sometimes thousands of kilometers, away for several days of seminars. 

The industry has picked up in India, green-labeling will start up soon, a tradeshow now accompanies the seminars of Indaquaria and the industry gets government support, nation wide. 

Since about a year Anil Kumar has been assigned to Infofish in Malaysia. Working for Infofish Anil still cares for the ornamental fish sector in his ho me country. During Indaquaria 2010 he was very instrumental in the formation of a national ornamental fish trade association. 

At present he, on a voluntary basis, edits books to be published in India to increase the hobby of aquarium keeping in India.

2009:   Ulrich Glaser sr. (Germany)

Ulrich Glaser sr.

Mr. Glaser has been active in the aquarium industry since the early 1970&rs quo;s, lately in his publishing house Aqualog Verlag GmbH. During his years as a retailer and as an importer he found out that of many species imported there was hardly any information available or only scattered in numerous publications in aquarium magazines and scientific literature. 

The first book of our laureate, All L-numbers, filled a great gap in knowledge of a very popular fish group. For the first time the numerous loricariid catfish were catalogued and pictured, many of which un-described at that time. In this way Mr. Glaser greatly contributed to the proper husbandry of not only the L number catfish, but later to many other common and rare fish in our industry. His database with information on how water quality criteria, food, tank size, behavior and much more, counts many thousands of fish species, fish varieties, plant species and other aquatic animals , carefully maintained over the years by Mr. Glaser himself.

2008:   Marshall Meyers (PIJAC, USA)

Marshall Meyers

Mr Meyers has represented the pet industry over the past 30 years and has been instrumental in regulatory processes as well as in providing his input and therefore the input of the industry on aspects of animal welfare, humane transportation of animals, endangered species, injurious wildlife, invasive species, wildlife regulations, international regulation of the import/export of animals and other animal related issues before international bodies (e.g. CITES), US and European Union, other governments and local legislative and regulatory entities. 

One of his first achievements was to ensure the continuation of the ornamental aquatic industry in the USA.. Around 1972, the US Fish and Wildlife Service sought to ban importation of all non-native species unless the pet industry could demonstrate that t heir importation would not injure the environment, agriculture, or humans. The newly created PIJAC asked Mr. Meyers to take on that battle. He forced the government into adopting a policy that any prohibition has to be science-based, a policy that has survived the test of time. 

Mr Meyers’s expertise and council is much sought after. This has resulted in invitations to participate in numerous task forces, conferences, regulatory and legislative councils as well as positions on boards of many bodies dealing with pet issues

2007:   William Tomey (Netherlands)

William Tomey

Mr. Tomey has for over 30 years successfully consulted and assisted governments, institutions, companies, hobby associations and private individuals. He has had a hand in developing export facilities and commercial breeding centers for ornamental fish utilizing biological technical know-how as well as marketing strategies and educational programs. His work has al so extended to aquatic plants, terrarium animals and insects.

 Mr. Tomey’s work has carried him to many countries in South- East and South Asia, Africa, South America and Europe. He has lectured and authored numerous articles and books on aquaristics and terrariums.

2006:   Dr. Ning Labbish Chao (Projeto Piaba, Brazil)

Dr. Ning Labbish Chao

Dr. Chao is the head of Project Piaba, a research program in Barcelos, Rio Negro. There is no doubt that the ornamental fish trade out of Brazil is of massive economic importance to local fisher folk and in the worldwide market. An estimated 40 million live fishes are exported from the region annually, and this fishery provides livelihood for 10,000 rural people (caboclos) and urban laborers.

Several years ago our laureate’s project adopted the slogan “buy a fish, save a tree”, based on the fact people with a stable economic livelihood from the ornamental fishery don’t engage in more ecologically destructive activities, such as slash-and-burn farming and ranching.Since the most sought-after small ornamental fish, or piaba, in the local language, have a short life span and replenish annually, the aquarium fish trade has been a highly effective means of providing local subsistence. The project has shown that there are good and sound reasons to believe that a sustainable piaba fishery can reduce the pressure on deforestation and alleviate poverty in the Amazon.

Beside this, he also greatly contributed to the improvements in collection, handling and transport to the exporters, resulting in a striking reduction of the mortality.

2005:    Mick Seaby (UK)

              John & Vivian Dawes (Spain)


Ornamental Aquatic Trade Association- OATA (UK)


Dr. Ngiam Tong Tau (AVA, Singapore)



Mick Seaby AND John & Vivian Dawes

Former OFI Chairman Mick Seaby and OFI Secretary General and Administrator John & Vivian Dawes brought stability and growth to OFI's organisation in a turbulent time in its existence. Through joint efforts exerted over an entire decade, they succeeded in putting OFI on the map and contributed substantially to making it the international association for all sectors of the ornamental aquatic industry. With this award, OFI would like to honour their contributions in the decade that they were the faces of OFI.

Ornamental Aquatic Trade Association

During that same period [that Mick Seaby and John & Vivian Dawes were active], the Ornamental Aquatic Trade Association (OATA), a UK based national trade association in the ornamental aquatic founded. Although working specifically for the interests of the UK trade, OATA has contributed immensely to the industry on an international scale as well. OFI is very pleased with its good relationship with OATA, which resulted in an official memorandum of understanding earlier this year. The cooperation was clearly demonstrated by its assistance in obtaining the proper contacts in Brussels and the continuous and valuable exchange of ideas on many relevant topics. OFI is looking forward to a continued cooperation with OATA.

Dr. Ngiam Tong Tau

Dr Ngiam Tong Tau, CEO, Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore has contributed considerably to the development of the ornamental fish industry in Singapore over the last twenty years. Dr Ngiam has provided leadership and direction and facilitated the development of the industry through the vehicle of the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) [also known as Primary Production Department prior to 1999]. Dr Ngiam led a team of aquaculturists and veterinarians who helped the ornamental fish industry to grow over the years. The AVA team's contributions were made in the areas of production, quality control, packaging and logistics, disease prevention and control, health certification, quarantine, and promotion of ornamental fish trade. So by honouring Dr. Ngiam Tong Tau, OFI is of course also recognising the AVA's work.

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