Coral Harvesting

James M. Cervino cnidaria at
Tue Aug 10 10:31:15 EDT 1999

Coral Harvesting:

POSTING: As usual the debate over coral harvesting seems to be based more
on emotion and gut reactions than any sort of scientific basis rooted in

JAMES: I have communicated with Eric regarding his data collection and he
is not basing his information on a "GUT REACTION or EMOTION" He is basing
his data on FACT.  Interviewing aquarium store owners and seeing the faxes
and receivable receipts from one store are based on pure fact. Interviewing
indigenous peoples from the Philippines and other areas in that region as
well as confirming their information by visiting the reefs first hand
(where corals are collected) and compiling data is FACT and not a gut
reaction.  EXAMPLE: Observing collectors collect Plerogyra from a location
in Malaysia; they did not just collect a few colonies, they collected the
entire patch (about 15 yard radius) without leaving one single fragment
behind.  Not to mention the trampling and damage to the surrounding corals
that are not needed for coral collection.  They cannot travel very far for
collection, they stay in a particular reef area near their home, which in
this case is on a small island, when the corals are gone they have
basically depleted some very important species.  These corals are sold for
pennies, and sold to the middle men who profit a great deal.  The corals
are then brought to the USA and sold between $30- $100. When I told the
collector what they are sold for in the USA, he did not believe me, he
looked at me with a shocked look on his face.

POSTING: Yes the numbers of corals and live rock collected sound immense
but if compared to the total amounts of coral and live rock in Fijian
waters, does this represent a significant and more importantly a negative
impact on Fijian reefs? Can this rate of collection be sustained without a
decline on Fijian reefs? You can quote all the numbers you want to (Eric)
but unless you put those numbers into context they mean nothing.

JAMES: The average person collecting is not making money for the LONG TERM
to support his or her family! At the current method.  Farming and cutting
out the middle men and having the families deal directly with the store
owners in the US might be a better idea.  Along with a proposed strategy,
and eco-system replenishment along with farming.

POSTING: Banning the import of corals into the US will do little to help
areas of coral bleaching and only hurts the economies of countries such as
Fiji which has escaped massive bleaching. Perhaps a more equitable solution
would be to treat a ban on coral imports on a regional basis?

JAMES: Yes Fiji has escaped massive bleaching, this makes us all pleased !!
This makes me think preservation & sustainable development, NOT
EXPLOITATION & ignoring the real problems !

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

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