Coral Harvesting

J. Charles Delbeek delbeek at
Mon Feb 8 00:11:44 EST 1999

On Sun, 7 Feb 1999, H Woyt wrote:

> Yes, you will probably say that my opinion is quite arrogant, but I 
> truly believe that not everything can be available to everybody. If 
> somebody can't afford to go and see a real reef than that's the way it 
> is. Not everybody can go and see elephants in the wild or visit fragile 
> ecosystems like the Galapagos. 

I agree, not everything will be available to everybody. But not everybody
wants a reef tank. Exactly, not everyone can afford to visit a reef.,
which was James' suggestion. The costs for many is prohibitive, but it is
not prohibitive to own a reef tank. In speaking with a friend in Holland a
few years ago he told me he was selling his tank, it was to oexpensive for
him to run any longer. He also told me that with teh trend to have ALRGE
systems so favoured in Europe, it was getting so expensive that few could
afford to own one. In North America most people have systems under 200
gallons, in Europe is seems as if that is the lower limit

> Some people simply have to be content to visit one of the beautiful 
> commercial aquaria like the one you are operating in Hawaii. If 
> everybody wants to own what he thinks is beautiful than very soon there 
> wouldn't be much left.

I suppose that may be true if the resource were limited or if the degree
of use exceeded the ability for the resource to renew. But where is the
evidence/data to prove that coral collection a) is depleting populations
beyond their ability to renew and b) that the amount of coral collected is
significant to coral reefs overall?

> The demand for life coral is devastating the reefs (apart from other 
> factors). In a country like Indonesia environmental harvesting 
> techniques will never be successful. It is simply a very different 
> situation than you might have in the Caribbean. You might convince 
> American hobbyists to buy sustainably harvested coral but on the Asian 
> market this will have no impact at all. All that counts is the price.

I am very curious to know on what data you are basing your first assertion
on? I am not so sure I understand why you think Indonesia vs. the
Caribbean would be that different? Also, it has been illegal for quite
some time to collect stony corals and sea fans in most of the Caribbean so
North American hobbyists rarely see corals from this area.

> In Europe CITES makes the trade in life coral difficult so that it's 
> really a low key hobby for people who really know what they are doing. 
> I hope it will stay that way.

I am a little confused by your statement re:CITIES. Why would this treaty
be treated any differently in North America than it would be Europe?
Confiscations occur here all the time.

J. Charles Delbeek M.Sc.

Aquarium Biologist
Waikiki Aquarium
University of Hawaii

"The fact that my physiology differs from yours pleases me to no end." 
Mr. Spock

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