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.

On a personal note from Roberto: “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”.

On a personal note from Gerald: “With much regret, I, President of OFI, deeply respect Roberto’s personal feelings; 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.

Roberto Hensen

Gerald Bassleer

OFI = Ornamental Fish International