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James M. Cervino cnidaria at
Sat Feb 19 09:31:29 EST 2000

On Fri, 19 Feb 2000, J. Charles Delbeek wrote:

Or the coral was misidentified according to the inspector, therefor an
entire shipment can be confiscated. For an act, whose purpose at some level
is to only monitor a trade, some are using to completely hinder a trade by
relying on technicalites when perhaps a system of fines might be a better
way of dealing with such errors.

James comments:
I agree that this has happened, however there are still shipments that make
it through that contain endangered species all the time.  Shell World and
Evolution display (for sale) Helipora which is an endangered species. These
particular merchants profit from corals and other endangered species.  I
think the CITES agents are short handed and need help, they are probably
doing the best that they can with the limited staff they have. They need
more agents, that are trained in coral ID. My question is, WHY would the
agents themselves want to hinder the trade, it is possible that they
witnessed more than sand grains attached to the bottom of a leather coral.
They are also responsible for catching some of the shipments that are
trying to make it through illegally.  Also the corals that are collected
are harvested in abundance with no regulation, similar to clear cutting.
There is not one indigenous family that I have spoken to that is claiming
that this destructive practice benefits them and their families for the
long term. They all claim that their particular reefs were in better shape
before collection and NaCN fishing started.

The species of Helipora I mention above were fresh and not sitting in a
warehouse for 10 years.

On Fri, 19 Feb 2000, J. Charles Delbeek wrote:
The US is still the main importer in the world of live coral, but when you
comapre the amounts to the trade in dead corals, corals harvested by locals
for lime production for roads and buildings, it pales in comparison. If we
really want to protect coral reefs in these countries, then maybe we should
send them a few tons of Portland cement and other construction materials?

James comments:
Giving countries funds for cement (or the actual cement) as a deterrent
from destroying reefs is a great Idea! Another alternative for protecting
reefs can be to propagate corals in captivity. Preventing any sale and
import of wild caught corals. The Geothermal Aquacultural Research
Foundation is showing that this can be an sustainable alternative from
importing any WILD collected corals.  Here is their Web Site :

Also another research group from the Solomon Islands is implementing a
program to grow corals in coastal areas.
Here is their Organizational Information: The Coastal Aquaculture Center in
the Solomon Islands is part of the larger, international scientific and
technical organization, ICLARM, headquartered in the Philippines. The
Center's work is aimed to produce income and/or protein from coral reef
habitats on a sustainable basis for the benefit of developing countries.
The Center actively promotes marine protected areas and the integration of
traditional knowledge in managing yields from coral reefs. Liberation of
hatchery reared juveniles to enhance recruitment levels for giant calms,
pearl oysters, beche-de-mer and fish is conducted by ICLARM, as is
development of methods to farm giant clams and pearl oysters, using low
cost technology that is suitable for village communities. In addition, the
Center is developing trade in farmed LIVE CORAL ANIMALS.

I think these applications will work to help indigenous peoples protect
their ecosystems for the long term, and put an END to wild caught or
collected corals and fishes.  To say that road construction, siltation,
bleaching,diseases and storm damage are the real problem and that coral
and fish collection is minor or "pale" is an understatement.  Despite the
fact that these other factors are worse than coral collection, it is still
a fact that the collection of corals is destructive and having an
additional damaging impact on reefs, lets promote other sustainable methods
for fish and coral collection.Such as; farming in coastal areas,
propagation in aquara in the USA, and fish collection methods like the IMA
are implementing.

James M. Cervino

James M. Cervino
Marine Biologist
Dept. of Biology/Geology
471 University Pkwy. Aiken
South Carolina Zip: 29801
e-mail :cnidaria at

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