Coral Harvesting

J. Charles Delbeek delbeek at
Sat Feb 6 13:42:50 EST 1999

On Mon, 18 Jan 1999, Huitric, Miriam wrote:

> Ultimately, private aquaria coral is a luxury item (after the 2,000 dollar
> estimate for the equipment needed - if you can afford that, you can afford
> to travel to the reef). In times of healthy reef abundance this market is
> viable (provided reef-friendly techniques are employed). At the moment there
> is much evidence that there is not an abundant resource available. So long
> this debated, hindsight has shown us that caution/ precautionary principle
> should be applied. 

Not everyone who can afford $2000 for equipment can afford to travel to a
reef. Many of these hobbyists are using the majority of their paycheques
to build these systems and purchase animals. Many of them live far enough
away from any reef to make the cost of travelling to, visiting and staying
anywhere near a reef cost prohibitive, living in Stockholm I am sure you
can appreciate this. Then there are the shutins and invalids who maintain
aquaria, they certainly cannot afford to travel to a reef or even have the
ability to. Many aquarists who mainatin reefs do not SCUBA dive, or cannot

> That public aquaria are important as education tools - yes by all
> means, not everyone has the opportunity/ means to visit reefs. If we
> want people to take the measures to protect them, they should know
> what it is they are making sacrifices for. BUT there should be careful
> regulation to ensure that the coral mortality of the exhibit in
> question does not undermine the aim of the display - otherwise it too
> becomes a luxury we can do without during the "coral depression" years
> - some supevision of the success rates of different aquaria is needed
> to determine their viability.

Who would you suggest would do this "supervision" and who would be
qualified to?

> I am not convinced that the market will naturally regulate these problems -
> doesn't scarcity increase value and therefore the amount a harvester makes/
> piece of coral? 

Unfortunately the harvester makes VERY little per coral. Perhaps if a) the
price of the coral were greater importers and shippers would take greater
care in shipping and handling then they do now and b), perhaps if the
collectors received more per piece they would too. That is the approach
being taken by OVI in the Philippines wrt fish collection.

> Miriam Huitric
> Beijer International Institute of Ecological Economics
> The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
> Box 50005
> 104 05 Stockholm
> Sweden

J. Charles Delbeek M.Sc.

Aquarium Biologist
Waikiki Aquarium
University of Hawaii

"The fact that my physiology differs from yours pleases me to no end." 
Mr. Spock

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