[Coral-List] question regarding importation of red coral to the USA

Paul Hoetjes paul&mieke at hoetjes.net
Sat Sep 6 17:24:48 EDT 2003

All stony corals, as well as black corals and some other deep water corals
lused for jewelry like red coral, bamboo coral and such, are listed on Annex
II of CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) (see
the CITES website http://www,cites.org

It is a common misconception that this means that their trade is banned.
This is not true. It only means that the country of origin must issue an
export permit before such species (or their products, e.g. jewelry made from
them)  are allowed into any other country (not only the USA) which has
ratified CITES (most of the countries in the world). This is to ensure that
the country of origin can control the amounts of such species leaving the
country, and if it feels this is too much it can refuse to issue a permit.In
general, trade in Annex II species is allowed though it is controlled, i.e a
permit is needed. Lack of the permit leads to confiscation, fines etc. by
customs. Live or dead corals in the aquarium trade and souvenir trade have
presumably been imported legally with a permit.

The origin of the misconception that species listed by CITES are 'banned'
from importation lies in the Annex I. This is a much shorter list of species
that are considered to be in actual danger of going extinct, i.e sea
turtles, tigers, rhinoceros, etc.

Hope this helps.

Anne Cohen wrote:

> Dear All
> A jewellery supplier in Massachussetts contacted me regarding a shipment
> of "synthetic" red coral they received from Thailand, that was
> subsequently held but not confiscated by US Fish and Wildlife who issued
> the supplier with a "Notification of Wildlife Importation/Exportation
> Violation". Apparently USFW had tested the items and found them to be
> real coral.
> The jewellery supplier is anxious to learn more and avoid illegal
> importations. I'd appreciate your comments and answers to these specific
> questions that were addressed to me:
> If it is "real" coral is all coral considered endangered and banned
> from Importation into the U.S., or O.K. to import with a license? We
> have taken much time to research this, but the information  on coral is
> vast. It seems there are thousands of types of coral. Some perhaps more
> endangered than others? Is there any difference when importing "live"
> coral as compared to "dead" coral. It seems coral is very easy to
> purchase, both live (as for fish tanks) and the type for
> ornamentation/jewelry. How can that be if it cannot be legally imported
> into the U.S.? Is coral cultivated in certain countries for re-sale?
> Many Thanks
> Anne
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