[Coral-List] ESA Listing for 82 coralsþ

James Cervino PhD. jcervino at whoi.edu
Mon Mar 1 08:33:58 EST 2010

Mr. Coral Collector-

What I will also do is collect the invoices of corals from 2 different hobby
stores in NYC that have imported Pacific Corals for the last 2 decades.  I know
for sure that these are wild collected corals. During 1991-93 we personally
witnessed the crobar collection of soft corals from reefs between Sipadan and
Tawau. There were corals placed in bags and tied up awaiting for pick up.

Illegal Collection

I  also want to commend John C. Cruden, Acting Assistant Attorney General for
the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division,  Kent
Robinson, Acting United States Attorney for the District of Oregon, Special
Agent in Charge of Law Enforcement for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's
Pacific Region, based in Portland and Vicki Nomura and Dwight Holton for
putting some of these deforesters out of commission.

Legal Collection (Deforestation)

The internationaclo ralt radeb etween 1985 and 1997 was comprehensively reviewed
by Green and Shirley, based on data from 70 coral importing and exporting
nations. They report that approximately 2 million coral pieces per year were
exported over this period, with the USA imports accounting for 56%b y weighto f
the global trade and those of the European U nion 15%. Since export  to f corals
was banned in the Philippines in the late 1980s, Indonesia has become the major
coral exporting nation (36% of supply in 1999). The coral trade peaked in the
early 1990s at around 4000 tonnes (t) yr-' and has subsequently declined t o
about 1000 t yr-'. The value of the trade
in 1997 USD 50 million in retail sales.


• In 1997, according to CITES data (of permitted exports), the major exporters
of live coral were Indonesia (71%), Fiji (12%), and Solomon Islands (6%). The
major exporters of live rock were Fiji (89% by weight) and Indonesia (74% by

• According to CITES, the United States is the largest importer of live coral
and reef rock, bringing in more than 80% of the livecoral trade (more than
400,000 pieces a year) and more than half of the marine aquarium fish sold

• According to the CITES database, in 1996, permitted coral exports produced 2.5
million pieces of live coral, 739 tons (670,000 kg) of raw coral, and 31,000
colonies of black coral.

• About 3,000 tons (2,721,600 kg) of coral enter international trade each year
for use in aquariums, according to the Ornamental Aquatic Trade Association.

• CITES reported 19,262 tons (17,474,486 kg) of black corals were imported into
70 nations from 1982-1997.

Also, here one of the recent cases:


(202) 514-2007
TDD (202) 514-1888



Discovery of shipping containers full of illegal coral in Oregon led to

WASHINGTON-Gunther Wenzek, a German national, pleaded guilty today
before District Judge Anna J. Brown, of the U.S. District Court for the
District of Oregon, to one count of smuggling coral into the United
States at the port of Portland, Ore., the Justice Department announced.

A grand jury in Portland indicted Wenzek in July 2008.  Law enforcement
officials arrested Wenzek in February 2009 when he entered the United
States at Dulles airport outside of Washington, D.C., en route to a pet
exposition in Orlando, Fla.  Wenzek has been detained under a third
party custodian release agreement since February.  Sentencing is
scheduled for Jan. 5, 2010 at 1:30 p.m. PT.

Wenzek owns a company named CoraPet, based in Essen, Germany that sells
various coral products to retailers in the United States.  Customs
agents seized two full containers of coral shipped by Wenzek to a
customer in Portland.  These two shipments made up a total of over 40
tons of coral.

 The corals seized have been identified as corals from the scientific
order Scleractinia, genera Porites, Acropora, and Pocillopora, common to
Philippine reefs.  Due to the threat of extinction, stony corals, such
as those seized in this case are protected by international law.
Philippine law specifically forbids exports of all coral.  Moreover, the
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) bars
importation of the coral Wenzek tried to import to customers in the
United States, without filling out proper customs forms or permits.

The removal of dead coral and live rock is of major concern for coral
reefs, including those reefs protecting coastal communities from storms.
These corals are the fundamental building blocks of the coral reef
ecosystem.  Unsustainable collection of coral frequently results in the
loss of important nursery areas, feeding grounds, refuge for fish and
invertebrates, and increased erosion of reef systems.

"This guilty plea is one example of the United States' coordinated
efforts, including the work of multiple law enforcement agencies, to
protect coral reefs and marine ecosystems both domestically and
internationally," said John C. Cruden, Acting Assistant Attorney General
for the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division.
"Preventing the further decline of coral reefs through strong
enforcement of our nation's environmental laws is paramount in
preserving marine environments and fisheries."

"We will not allow criminals to profit from the illegal devastation of
the world's coral reefs," said Kent Robinson, Acting United States
Attorney for the District of Oregon.

"This activity has an immeasurable negative impact on our shrinking
resources in the world," said Paul Chang, Special Agent in Charge of Law
Enforcement for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Pacific Region,
based in Portland.

"Our national and the international marine resources are important to
all of us and this is a fine example of federal agencies working
together to protect those resources," said Special Agent in Charge Vicki
Nomura, National Marine Fisheries Service, Office of Law Enforcement.

The case was investigated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the National Marine Fisheries
Service.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States
Attorney, Dwight Holton from the District of Oregon and Senior Trial
Attorney J. Ronald Sutcliffe of the Justice Department's Environmental
Crimes Section, with assistance from the Southern District of Florida,
AUSA, Tom Watts-FitzGerald.

Dr. James M. Cervino
Visiting Scientist
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute
Contact Information:
NYC Address: 9-22 119st
College Point New York, 11356
Cell: 917-620*5287

Quoting vitz vitz <kokovitz at msn.com>:

* James Cervino wrote:
* "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?"
* Mr. Cervino,
* Would you be so kind as to post the data and numbers of present collection
* amounts of corals imported into the U.S. for the MO trade that backs up your
* contention that the MO industry is "responsible de-foresting
* Indo-Pacific coral rain-forests for fish tanks in the USA ? ''
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