[Coral-List] ESA Listing for 82 corals

Walt Smith walt at waltsmith.com
Sun Feb 21 13:30:15 EST 2010

Hi All,
I had a hunch that one of my managers in Fiji responded to this post. When I 
asked him if this was the case he sent me this response. I would like to 
share with you for consideration.

Hi Walt,
    Kind of spooky. Sounds like me. Even likes to leave a nominal carbon
footprint like me. Although I admit to various "nom de plumes", this is not
one of them. You and I both know there are people in this world that object
to our existence without knowing anything about the trade. I have come
across this time and time again. As you have. Certain tour operators are
among those that generally hate us at this end. A very old saying is that
"people fear what they do not understand". We have borne the brunt of many
an accusation simply because we have "direct contact" with the reef.
Therefore we must be at fault. As opposed to the lumber industry that would
deforest a hill miles away resulting in runoff that kills a reef larger than
what the trade has removed in it's entire history. Or a sugar mill as I have
seen in Fiji. Of course I'm preaching to the choir here. You know all that.
As do all of us in the know. I fear that one day wild corals will no longer
be permitted. The moment they were listed on CITES as Appendix 2 was the
beginning of an eventual demise. Why this happened I cannot say. I have
heard time and time again that the corals reef is the largest organism on
earth and can be seen from space (eg, Great Barrier Reef). Yet it is listed
as endangered. It is not the aquarium trade that will result in the demise
of the reefs. But climate change and other man made impacts to the planet.
CITES is like some big environmental roach motel. You can check in but you
can't check out. Clams are a perfect example. Indigenous  islanders nearly
wiped out giant clams in their respective countries for food. Mariculture
has resulted in more clams that nature can produce. Yet even the cultured
ones remain as CITES 2. It makes no sense. Because once you are listed on
CITES you are there for life. And USFWS has become the US Gestapo arm of
CITES and seems to have jumped on the bandwagon of those who oppose the
    Then of course there's the scapegoat ideology. Blame the aquarium trade
to misdirect those who would otherwise look at larger culprits such as
lumber, oil and numerous other larger, richer, greedier, entities that
destroy reefs "indirectly?" on a massive scale.
   Perhaps you should have been a politician or lobbyist. The opposition
seems to have better ones than we do. That's really what it comes down to.
He who screams the loudest. Like the crowd choosing Barabbas over Jesus
prior to his crucifixion.

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "vitz vitz" <kokovitz at msn.com>
To: <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>
Sent: Saturday, February 20, 2010 2:38 PM
Subject: Re: [Coral-List] ESA Listing for 82 corals

> "maybe we should develop the same no tolerance policy for the
>> coral collectors and distributors that are responsible de-foresting
>> Indo-Pacific coral rain-forests for fish tanks in the USA?"
> i've been lurking on coral list for years, and have chimed in once or 
> twice on some matters...
> i'm not a scientist, nor a biologist, nor a reef ecologist....
> what i am is a long time fw/sw tropical fish hobbyist (about 4 decades) 
> w/backgrounds in retail, wholesale, import, and distribution of livestock 
> and drygoods, along w/practical experience in fw commercial 
> polyaquaculture...
> i've also been a long time proponent of eco-friendly, sustainable 
> collection for the MO (marine ornamental) industry-to the extent of being 
> a (past) member of an NGO that works in the field of coral and clam 
> aquaculture -and mr cervino's semi hyperbolic rhetoric compels me to 
> respond as follows.....
> this will be percieved by many as inflammatory-so be it
> where on earth do you come up with the RIDICULOUS notion that the MO 
> industry is what's responsible for the 'de-foresting
>> Indo-Pacific coral rain-forests for fish tanks" ?
> do you have any data or numbers to back this statement up ? or do you 
> merely parrot the rhetoric of those who grossly misrepresent the amount of 
> impact the MO industry has done-especially when compared to the far more 
> serious and larger issues of pollution,trawling, tourism damage, global 
> warming, etc. etc?
> do you drive a car, mr. cervino ?
> i do not-my method of transportation is a bicycle-i would postulate that 
> you, if you drive a car, kill more corals daily than i do as a reef 
> hobbyist, and an employee in the retail MO sector....
> a large part of this discussion re: 'the 82' disgusts me- the issues at 
> hand are not the MO industry's collection methods/amounts-that is 1/100th 
> of a drop in the proverbial bucket, compared with the real issues at 
> hand...
> do scientists really think suing the U.S. gov't will save corals ? do they 
> really think all of this discussion matters one bit as to working on the 
> real issues/problems that are the true root causes of the demise of the 
> reefs worldwide ?
> if such is the case, i'm sad-but not ashamed, as you should all be
> i wonder, for one, if these 'biodiversity yahoos', and especially their 
> lawyers, would truly be interested in this issue, if money was taken out 
> of the picture (that is, the money they stand to gain to further fund 
> their shyster lawyers and organizations)
> would they do this all 'pro-bono' ?
> there are people in this industry who have risked life and limb to make 
> the MO industry less damaging to the reefs vis-a-vis the collection 
> practices involved....and there is a continual argument/investigation by 
> many who strive to improve many aspects of our industry, from sustainable 
> collection, to improvement of transport methods to minimize losses in 
> shipping, captive breeding/propagation  efforts (such as those done by 
> ORA)-we are more aware of, and concerned about, these matters, mr cervino, 
> than you and your rhetoric , rest assured.
> every day, when i leave for work on my bike, and think of how many cars 
> are on the roads every second of everyday, and the staggering amount of 
> pollution spewed forth by automobiles, and countless other industries, i 
> weep for this planet-i'm even saddened by the damage i cause as part of 
> the 'modern' society we are, in spite of keeping a relatively minimal 
> carbon footprint (and yes, i do 'get' that keeping a tank, in and of 
> itself, kills corals merely by burning the fossil fuels to provide the 
> electricity those tanks require-there is no moral/eco friendly argument in 
> favor of aquariums-but then again, i'm not making ridiculous assertions 
> about minor players making major damage)...
> i keep reading these ridiculous discussions bantering back and forth 
> within the scientific community on this list server, while not one 
> scientist seems to get it-you should all be taking up arms and storming 
> gov'ts  for their complicity in raping, pillaging, and murdering the very 
> habitats and ecosystems you make your livings on claiming to defend and be 
> concerned about, while accepting pay from thos every bodies that are 
> killing the planet....
> wouldn't your time be better spent attacking exxon mobil, and how they got 
> away w/bloody murder from the whole 'exxon valdez' incident ? things like 
> this go on all the time, and you're tantruming about the MO industry 
> 'de-foresting  the reefs' ? are you sane, man ?!!
> i guess that's kinda hard to do when those same gov'ts and ind. groups 
> sign off on your paychecks, huh ?
> shame on all of you, every single one, from the uscrtf, to the cbd-i hope 
> you're all having fun in your sandbox discussions, and selfish greedy 
> plans while the planet not so slowly dies
> you're all an embarrasment to what science should stand for, you let your 
> petty egos get in the way of greater truths, while favoring the chasing of 
> highly visible scapegoat targets to further your own selfish personal 
> agendas, instead of truly dealing with the evils you claim to be fighting 
> against
> it's no wonder the republican pr machine has such an easy time nay-saying 
> global warming to john q. public
>> Date: Fri, 19 Feb 2010 08:09:39 -0500
>> From: jcervino at whoi.edu
>> To: sale at uwindsor.ca
>> CC: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
>> Subject: Re: [Coral-List] ESA Listing for 82 corals
>> Dear Peter,
>> This was a wonderful and accurate posting, however, it is impossible to 
>> achieve
>> some of these important goals until the global warming deniers and "coral
>> resilience" advocates realize that these ecosystems are going to die 
>> within
>> their life time; unless drastic action is taken to stabilize CO2 
>> emissions,
>> create a new massive initiative for the replanting of carbon sequestering
>> trees, protect soil peat bogs & wetlands. These are very important 
>> storage
>> depots of carbon dioxide. By creating new bogs, or enhancing/protecting 
>> the
>> already existing ones, carbon sequestration can be achieved.
>> The coral collection advocates, that are responsible for filling the 
>> coastal
>> port containers with valuable coral species, need to be stopped if we are 
>> to
>> protect coral rainforests that are remaining. Here in the little ole 
>> State of
>> NYC, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (Region 
>> 2)
>> have created a no tolerance position on developers and violators that 
>> fill,
>> collect, or damage wetlands. Now, even if good folks file for a permit 
>> that
>> may encroach on 12' INCHES of NY state protected coastal wetlands, one 
>> must
>> give-back, or create 24-48' inches of wetland elsewhere on some rare 
>> occasions
>> (references will be provided) Given the status of tropical corals 
>> globally,
>> and since we cannot get passed a "not take policy" of valuable corals, 
>> maybe
>> we should create a 100-1 ratio give back, for the coral collectors that 
>> sell
>> corals to the USA for living room tables? Meaning, for every 1 (one) 
>> Euphillia
>> or Porites spp. collected, one must restore and replant 100 colonies of 
>> the
>> same size, exact same species elsewhere!!
>> If NYC & LI Department of Environmental Conservation get the message that
>> coastal invertebrates, shell-fish, soil peat, Spartina and Zostera, are a
>> valuable species, as a means to prevent beach erosion, and carbon
>> sequestration, maybe we should develop the same no tolerance policy for 
>> the
>> coral collectors and distributors that are responsible de-foresting
>> Indo-Pacific coral rain-forests for fish tanks in the USA?
>> James
>> *************************************
>> Dr. James M. Cervino
>> Visiting Scientist
>> Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute and Advocate for target 
>> goal:n=280-300ppm CO2
>> Contact Information:
>> NYC Address: 9-22 119st
>> College Point New York, 11356
>> Cell: 917-620*5287
>> ************************************
>> Quoting Peter Sale <sale at uwindsor.ca>:
>> * Fellow coral listers,
>> *
>> * I prefer to silently read the posts by others, but every now and then, 
>> I
>> * am forced to comment. Recent posts on the topic of listing of more 
>> corals
>> * under the US Endangered Species Act by Gene Shinn, John Ogden and 
>> others
>> * show the diversity of opinion out there, even among the scientifically
>> * informed. Rather than comment on whether listing is a useful action to
>> * take, let me take a different tack. (I remain curious concerning the
>> * penchant within the US for listing organisms that live largely or 
>> entirely
>> * outside US jurisdiction ? such as the red kangaroo ? but now is not the
>> * time and place for that discussion.) There is such a thing as fiddling
>> * while Rome burns. We are generally quite good at that, and I fear we 
>> are
>> * going to go on fiddling until the opportunity to actually take action 
>> will
>> * have passed us by. Corals, and many other species, are at risk of
>> * extinction because too many of us insist on demanding too much from an
>> * environment that cannot provide for these wants. I happen to think we
>> * need these other species more than we realize, and that it is in our 
>> own
>> * self-interest to change our attitudes and behavior now. We do not need
>> * the US to list corals as endangered to know that management of most 
>> reef
>> * areas around the world is woefully inadequate, nor to know what steps 
>> need
>> * to be taken to improve that management ? reduce overfishing, cut
>> * pollution, eliminate inappropriate coastal development, and, yes, cut 
>> CO2
>> * emissions and reduce atmospheric CO2 concentrations in order to
>> * stabilize/restore ocean surface waters pH. In short, we need to start
>> * managing our impacts on reefs, instead of continuing to pretend to 
>> manage
>> * them. That means making actual, on-the-ground changes, not discussing
>> * changes, legislating changes, or bemoaning the lack of changes. We 
>> could
>> * also start thinking seriously about the carrying capacity of this 
>> planet
>> * for Homo sapiens, rather than complacently noting that our population 
>> is
>> * trending towards 9.2 billion by mid century. What can one scientist do?
>> * We each can start by doing our best to articulate the problem as 
>> clearly
>> * as possible in every forum open to us ? we have a very big problem and
>> * most people are quite unaware of how big it is. When did you last
>> * buttonhole a politician, get an article into a newspaper, talk to a 
>> school
>> * group, post on a web-site, get yourself onto TV to talk about 
>> environment,
>> * or, especially, work to improve environmental management where you 
>> live?
>> * When did you last talk quietly to your family or neighbors about this
>> * issue? When did you set an example? Spaceship Earth is not being 
>> managed
>> * sustainably, and its coral canaries are screaming as loudly as they 
>> can..
>> *
>> * Peter Sale
>> *
>> * Peter F. Sale
>> * Assistant Director
>> * United Nations University
>> * Institute for Water, Environment and Health
>> * and
>> * University Professor Emeritus
>> * University of Windsor
>> * _______________________________________________
>> * Coral-List mailing list
>> * Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
>> * http://coral.aoml.noaa.gov/mailman/listinfo/coral-list
>> *
>> *
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