James M. Cervino cnidaria at earthlink.net
Fri Aug 6 14:27:08 EDT 1999

Dear Listers interested in coral harvesting:

Coral List Statement: This represents a completely renewable resource and a
viable industry for Fiji,

The statement above mentions renewable and viable industry. Viable industry
for who? Are corals regrowing as fast as they are collected? Is this a
renewable resource at the current method of collection?  A resource for
middlemen who pay the indigenous peoples to collect corals? US aquarium
hobby stores? Shell World? Indigenous peoples? Is this better than tourism
(SCUBA , snorkeling etc.) for the peoples of Fiji?

Are the local peoples (indigenous) able to sustain their families well
being from the extraction of corals and live rock from the reefs in which
they lived and survived on for hundreds of years at the method of

Every person (local collector, not middle men) in the Philippines,
Indonesia, Malaysia, Fiji etc. we spoke to claim they are UNABLE to sustain
their families well-being from the extraction of corals, fish, and live
rock on a LONG TERM BASIS.  Only the middle men waving dollars in front of
their faces are profiting from this business. These are the same people who
also supply cyanide to the indigenous peoples to collect fish. Local people
have been re-locating themselves and their families to new reefs to exploit
after a few years.   This has been PROVED as an ineffective  economic
resource to sustain their families well-being over the long term. We don't
see peoples starving, families re-locating, and small local economies
falling apart from this trade. All the consumer or purchaser of corals for
fish tanks in living rooms see is, exotic pretty vibrant colored fish and
corals, not the suffering or loss that is involved due to the trade. I will
not even mention the extortion, and crime that is involved in this trade.

Why is it that on some boats that collect corals and NaCN caught fish have
armed men on boats with machine guns? This trade is corrupt, and needs a
drastic overhaul.  It needs to be managed properly.  Artificial reef
restoration (not with tires or sunken ships) needs to be implemented to
rebuild reefs damaged from bleaching, diseases, and over exploitation due
to harvesting, dynamiting, or NaCN use. The (IMA) International Marine-life
Alliance has implemented a method in-which fish are collected with a net,
and not with NaCN.  Net collection can work if the middle men supplying
NaCN stay out of the picture.

Corals can be sold for the hobby trade as long as the surrounding ecosystem
is replenished with artificially grown corals that cannot be harvested,
Certain areas can be set aside for farming & collection. Corals should only
be harvested from these areas. Fish can be collected in these areas using
nets because, the small fish will be coming back due to the artificial
coral re-growth.

Given the mass bleaching events, disease outbreaks, and anthropogenic
sources of pollution, should there not be a ban on WILD collected corals
given the state of the reefs today in the tropics? Will this method work
that I have suggested?

It has been 32 weeks since the last discussion regarding coral harvesting.
I have been keeping track of the imports from one local aquarium store in
NY, and we have numbers presented in a paper this fall.

I appreciate Eric's posting, pointing out that a change or revamping in the
coral & fish collection industry is germane. As well as pointing out that
this is not an EASY renewable resource much less viable.

James M. Cervino
Marine Biologist
Global Coral Reef Alliance
University of South Carolina at Aiken
cnidaria at earthlink.net

More information about the Coral-list-old mailing list