[Coral-List] coral trade and CITES

dfenner at blueskynet.as dfenner at blueskynet.as
Thu Feb 14 10:55:02 EST 2008

Jean-Jacques is on the right track.  In order to ship corals between countries,
a CITES permit is required from the country of origin.  The permit certifies
that the coral was collected legally under the laws of the originating country,
and that the collection of them does not endanger the species there.  Importing
countries require the CITES permit to accompany the shipment, and if there is
no permit can take legal action (which they may be committed to as signatories
to CITES; some countries may require CITES import permits as well).  If there
is evidence of not declaring the shipment or attempting to smuggle it,
penalties can be significant.  There was a case I believe of an individual
entering the US with 3 beachworn specimens, who was put in jail overnight.  A
larger shipment to the UK led to a conviction and penalty.  However, it does
not matter what the use is for.  So commercial shipments of any quantity are
allowed if the source country provides the CITES permit.  Indonesia is
currently the largest exporting country I believe, and there are about a dozen
or so other countries that also export.  The US is by far the largest importer.
 Last I knew about half of the commercial trade is of dead corals for the shell
shop curio trade, and about half live for the aquarium trade.  The aquarium
trade was growing very rapidly, though.  The EU had banned imports of some
species that they thought might be overexploited, but the US has not.  The
Philippines used to be the largest exporter, but has completely banned exports
of any amount for any purpose, and my impression is that it is working.  Last I
knew Australia limited coral collection to 50 tons a year total, and I had an
impression that coral export was illegal, and the coral was entirely for the
domestic market.  Perhaps someone in GBRMPA or another organization there can
clarify that.  Australian Customs does seize any illegal coral exports they can
catch, I was told by one of their Customs officers of some German tourists who
were leaving with an unusually heavy bag, which turned out to be full of
corals.  If I remember, the tourists were totally unaware that it was illegal. 
The corals were confiscated, I do not know if there was any further penalty.  Ed
Green and others have looked at the international coral trade based on the data
from CITES permits, and published reports and papers.    -Doug

Quoting Jean-Jacques Eckert <jjeckert at evc.net>:

> Dear listers, 
> In response to
> Date: Tue, 12 Feb 2008 22:52:36 -0600
> From: "Ed Blume" <edblume at mailbag.com>
> Subject: [Coral-List] Selling coral
> If there are true dead corals as it seems normally they need a CITES in order
> to be allowed to be sold. If not, it is totally illegal and they should be
> removed.  
> Regards  JJE
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