[Coral-List] 82 coral species listing

Keith Carlisle kmcarlisle_1999 at yahoo.com
Wed Jul 11 16:21:44 EDT 2012

I realize that this issue of ESA listing of corals has been beaten to death, but I want to add a slightly different perspective.
I'm currently a graduate student in coastal environmental management, but before returning to school, I practiced law for 15 years. Most recently, I served as legal counsel for a very large auction house, and one of my responsibilities was to ensure that any animal materials (e.g., ivory or coral) imported, exported or sold by the auction house was done so legally. A lot of coral came through our doors, primarily in the form of carved jewelry and decorative art, but also large pieces of uncarved acropora and other stony corals. To the extent the coral or any other animal material was of a species that was legally protected under the ESA or CITES (or could not be identified with reasonable certainty), we turned it away unless there was proper documentation evidencing that it was an antique within the legal definition and had entered the country legally. The amount of coral the auction house sold, however, pales in comparison to the amount sold through
 souvenir/curio shops and through the aquarium trade.
From my perspective, if there's reasonable evidence that a species is threatened or endangered, allowing continued trade in that species is highly irresponsible.  ESA protection may or may not ultimately save most of these corals, but by restricting other pressures on them (such as commercial trade), we buy more time to understand and address more serious coral stressors and/or to allow them to adapt to changing climatic conditions. For me, that's justification for ESA listing. 
Keith Carlisle

From: John Bruno <jbruno at unc.edu>
To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov 
Sent: Wednesday, July 11, 2012 12:54 PM
Subject: [Coral-List] 82 coral species listing

Gene Iv'e been reading your posts on the potential listing of 82 new coral species under the ESA. Last time this issue came up (with the Acropora listing), I largely agreed with you (e.g., your arguments in Shinn MPB 2004). 

But Iv'e changed my mind. And I think you are asking the wrong question. ESA listing is designed to facilitate recovery of a "threatened" species. I see your point, but the time machine argument doesn't really make sense.  Acropora is tricky since it was largely wiped out by WBD which I agree with you, was not linked to ocean warming.  But for many of the new 82 species, warming (and subsequent disease and bleaching and eventual acidification) are indeed major causes of the decline.  But more importantly, removing these stressors is key to successful restoration, which again, is what the ESA is all about.  How will ESA achieve this?  As others have pointed out, ESA listing of corals (and other species like Polar Bears) is a tool that can be used (e.g., via the EPA) to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. Obviously, the coral listing alone will not save reefs, but in my view the listing it is an important and valuable step forward.  

John Bruno

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