[Coral-List] Selling coral is legal in the US

Richard Grigg rgrigg at soest.hawaii.edu
Wed Sep 8 15:05:03 EDT 2004

The Lacey Act also requires a certificate stating the Country of Origin and 
whether or not the harvest was legal in the originating country.  Sometimes 
it is used to launder coral taken elsewhere but passed through a country 
(like Taiwan) where the taking of coral is legal.

                                                                 Rick Grigg

At 09:37 AM 9/7/04 -0600, Mark Eakin wrote:
>The Lacey Act is still in place and bans the import of wildlife and 
>products that were taken illegally in their country of origin.
>On Sep 6, 2004, at 8:11 PM, John McManus wrote:
>>I recall from the early 80's that the "Black Bass" Act (Lacey Act
>>maybe?) prohibited the import of natural products from a country that
>>bans their export. I was asked to provide information on the coral trade
>>(a draft of an ICLARM Newsletter article) to be was used in the
>>congressional discussions at the time. This act was supposedly used to
>>restrict coral imports from the Philippines and elsewhere.
>>Does anyone know the status of this act? Has it been superceded?
>>   John
>>John W. McManus, PhD
>>Professor, Marine Biology and Fisheries
>>Director, National Center for Caribbean Coral Reef Research (NCORE)
>>Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences (RSMAS) University
>>of Miami
>>4600 Rickenbacker Causeway Miami, Florida 33149.
>>jmcmanus at rsmas.miami.edu Tel. (305) 361-4814 Fax (305) 361-4910
>>-----Original Message-----
>>From: coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
>>[mailto:coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov] On Behalf Of Szmant,
>>Sent: Thursday, September 02, 2004 8:26 AM
>>To: Douglas Fenner; coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
>>Subject: RE: [Coral-List] Selling coral is legal in the US
>>Hi Doug and everyone:
>>Thank you for the very thorough summary of coral trade regulations.  I
>>have a 'funny' P.S. to this story:  We are doing a research project to
>>track the dispersal of eggs/larvae after a mass spawn event, and working
>>with physical oceanographers, will be releasing 100's of kg of small
>>plastic beads that are fluorescent or magnetic.  The company in England
>>that has made and shipped the beads to us listed them in the commercial
>>invoice as "artificial coral eggs".  The first batch made it through
>>customs OK, but the second one that arrived several days later was
>>flagged by the customs official who will not relase them until the are
>>inspected  by the Fish and Wildlife people to certify that we are not
>>violating CITES laws.    I guess that agent has forgotten the definition
>>of "artifical"!
>>Alina Szmant,
>>[hopefully dodging H. Frances so that we can dump out beads in the
>>Dr. Alina M. Szmant
>>Coral Reef Research Group
>>UNCW-Center for Marine Science
>>Presently in Field:  371 Bahia Dr, Key Largo FL 33037
>>Tel & Fax:  (305)453-4792
>>Cell:  (910)200-3913
>>email:  szmanta at uncw.edu
>>Web Page:  http://people.uncw.edu/szmanta
>>From: coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov on behalf of Douglas Fenner
>>Sent: Wed 9/1/2004 6:52 AM
>>To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
>>Subject: [Coral-List] Selling coral is legal in the US
>>     The polyps that open and close are probably in the soft coral group,
>>the Xeniids.  Importing live coral is not only legal, but it is big
>>business.  You must have a CITIES permit to export or import coral,
>>alive or dead.  CITIES' purpose is to stop the international trade in
>>endangered species, and control the trade in threatened species.
>>species like Pandas cannot be traded internationally, nor can their
>>Only about 5 species of the roughly 790 species of reef coral in the
>>world are documented to be endangered or even threatened, and none of
>>those 5 are traded to my knowledge.  But coral reefs are threatened.
>>all corals are on a second CITIES list that can be traded but you must
>>have a permit.  It is hard to tell corals apart, so all corals are on
>>the list, even though they aren't endangered or threatened or have
>>anything to do with coral reefs (it includes over 600 species of deep
>>water solitary corals).  It's a
>>bit like saying tropical rain forests are endangered, and wood of
>>different trees is hard to tell apart, so we will make it so anyone must
>>have a CITIES permit to carry wood between any two countires.  That
>>includes anything from a tiny piece of wood in your pocket to a giant
>>ship full of wood from a cold area that is not tropical forest.  And the
>>big companies have plenty of money to hire specialists to get the
>>permits, or possibly even grease palms if necessary (in the case of
>>lumber, they can jail or deport anyone who dares to question illegal
>>logging in some countries, buy off officials, etc).  But you as a
>>scientist may have no money and no idea who controls the permits in a
>>developing country.  I am trying to get a permit to move one small coral
>>from a country where the responsable officials won't even do me the
>>courtesy of replying to my letters and e-mails.  Indonesia is the
>>largest exporter of corals at this time, but about a dozen countries do
>>it (the Philippines used to be the largest exporter, but has banned all
>>export for any reason whatsoever, including scientific).  Aquarists like
>>corals with fleshy polyps, and Indonesia exports significant numbers,
>>including 10's of thousands of pieces of a couple of quite rare
>>species.  The exporting country must certify under CITES rules that the
>>export does not endanger the species, yet Indonesia has very little data
>>on whether the trade endangers these two rare species.  To find out
>>would cost a fair amount of money, and money is scarce in the
>>governments of developing countries (though perhaps not for a few
>>wealthy individuals in the country). The USA is by far the largest
>>importer of coral, and the trade is clearly driven by demand.  The trade
>>in live corals for aquaria has been growing rapidly for some time, but
>>the trade in coral skeletons is relatively steady (but not
>>insignificant).  Although the European Union has banned the import of
>>several fleshy corals, the US has not.  Collecting coral or selling
>>locally collected coral is certainly illegal in Hawaii and I believe in
>>Florida as well, but selling imported coral is perfectly legal, provided
>>there is a CITIES permit.  I would think that local law enforcement
>>officials would put checking for CITIES permits very low on their list
>>of priorities, if they know about it at all.  US Customs and US Fish and
>>Wildlife take it quite seriously, as do Australian and European customs
>>and probably others.
>>     For more information see:
>>Corals in international trade.  US National Marine Fisheries Service
>>Office of Protected Resources.
>>Wabnitz C, Taylor M, Green E, Razak T  (2003)  From ocean to aquarium:
>>the global trade in marine ornamental species.  64 pp.  www.unep-
>>Bruckner AW  (2002a)  Trends in international trade in stony corals: a
>>synopsis of CITES data.  In Bruckner AW (ed.), Proceedings of the
>>International Workshop on the trade in stony corals: development of
>>sustainable management guidelines.  NOAA Technical Memorandum
>>NMFS-OPR-23, Silver Spring, MD, 56-57
>>Bruckner AW  (2002b)  Surveys of coral collection sites in the Spermonde
>>Archipelago, South Sulawesi.  In Bruckner AW (ed.), Proceedings of the
>>International Workshop on the trade in stony corals: development of
>>sustainable management guidelines.  NOAA Technical Memorandum
>>NMFS-OPR-23, Silver Spring, MD, 117-135
>>Raymakers C  (2001)  Review of trade in live corals from Indonesia.
>>Brussels, TRAFFIC Europe.  18 pp
>>Lilley G  (2000)  Review of trade in live corals from Indonesia.
>>Traffic Europe.  32 pp
>>Green EP, Hendry H  (1999)  Is CITES an effective tool for monitoring
>>trade in corals? Coral Reefs 18:403-407
>>Green E, Shirley F  (1999)  The global trade in coral.  WCMC
>>Biodiversity Series No. 9. World Conservation Press, Cambridge.  70 pp
>>Fenner D  (2001)  Mass bleaching threatens two corals with extinction.
>>Reef Encounter 29:9-10
>>     -Douglas Fenner, American Samoa
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