Coral Harvesting

J. Charles Delbeek delbeek at
Wed Aug 11 12:54:58 EDT 1999

On Tue, 10 Aug 1999, James M. Cervino wrote:

> Coral Harvesting:
> 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.

In refering to the lack of data I did not mean to imply that no numbers of
imports had been collected, that would of course not be true as various
reports have been published on this in the past, though none that I can
remember in a peer reviewed journal (please correct me if wrong). As I
stated in the above paragraph, these numbers mean nothing unless taken in
context. This is where the emotionalism comes into play .. interpreting
those numbers. 

I also stated that I know there are abuses going on and I fully agree
something needs to be done. But whereas you would want to shut everything
down, I would prefer to see solutions worked out that are less drastic.

> 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.

I couldn't agree with you more.

> 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 !

I do not understand where you are getting the impression that there is
exploitation and unsustainable development going on in Fiji when it comes
to coral harvesting? Where is the data to show it is exploitive and
unsustainable? This is why I think the recommendations of the upcoming
report make sense, lets study what is actually going on at the collection
level and let the data speak for itself. With the resources of the U. of
the S.P. and all its grad students right there, its a perfect opportunity.


** My opinions are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.
of Hawaii or the Waikiki Aq. **

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