[Coral-List] Aquacultured Corals?

Charles Delbeek delbeek at waquarium.org
Sun Feb 24 19:51:29 EST 2008

Michele & Karl wrote:
> Charles,
> Just a correction in regards to Vanuatu. Fisheries regs here do not require,
> but only encourage F2. Also, while one coral culture operation here did
> practice responsible aquaculture up until a year ago, both coral companies
> are now unfortunately chop-shop. The company that slid into unsustainable
> practices over the last year is now taking frags that represent 1 to 2
> years of growth and shipping them out within a few months after setting on
> cement. They also eliminated their soft coral aquaculture efforts in favour
> of wild harvesting and have accelerated their associated invertebrate
> collections considerably. One mitigating factor is that at least they are
> not destroying and chopping up colonies in one go like the practices of the
> other, more established operator.
> Inadequate monitoring of coral culture operators by Fisheries departments is
> the problem. Operators know they won't check, so they have little incentive
> to ensure that frags taken off colonies are not exported until the mother
> colony has re-grown to its original state.
> regards,
> Karl
Aloha Karl, thank you for the clarification concerning Vanuatu coral 
propagation regulations.

Just to clarify, to me the term "chop shop" refers to the practice of 
removing entire coral heads, fragmenting them ex situ and discarding the 
remains. Hence the term "chop shop", which refers to the practice of 
completely dismantling an entire stolen car for its parts, which are 
then in turn sold. I would not classify what you describe as "chop shop" 
behaviour. A more apt analogy might be removing the headlights or side 
mirrors of a car; parts that can be easily replaced, or better perhaps, 
cutting a lawn or trimming a bush. One can argue the merits of the 
latter practice but I believe its potential environmental impacts are 
much less given the rapid regrowth of the "donor" colonies, which I 
believe you were responsible for tracking at the time. Do you have 
documented evidence that this practice is then "unsustainable" and what 
definition of "sustainability" are you using? Given the sheer surface 
area of reefs along the coasts of the islands in Vanuatu and the small 
scale operation there, I find it hard to picture this practice having 
substantial long term negative impacts.


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