[Coral-List] Worst places to harvest coral for aquarium trade?

Damien Beri beridl at g.cofc.edu
Fri Apr 7 10:59:29 EDT 2017

Thank you to all contributors of this email, there is so much to say but I will speak on the points I feel have resonated the most.

Just to mention prior: I am still actively waiting for some intel (data, photos, videos) on areas, regions, operations that have been negatively effected by live coral harvesting. So far I have heard only good things.

Also to clarify:  My reference to “enemy” is not geared towards the coral trade, aquarists, or suppliers. I owe much knowledge to working in the aquarium industry with corals. The enemy I am referring to are the hidden, unsustainable players who take part in the trade daily and profit heavily.  Most people would agree there is a lot of sustainable, as well as unsustainable Coral Harvesting taking place.  It is hard to identify those players respectfully, it is becoming more clear through this email chain how hard this truly is.

Matthew Clark, you raise a very valid point.  The source's of aquarium corals that shops utilize are almost always kept secret.  Even if you are a buyer who just purchased a beautiful colony, and ask what the source of the coral is, the shop will normally tell you a region if they are aware of it.  They will almost certainly not reveal their supplier specifically even if you ask (I am sure there are a select few who do).  This would be road block #1 for even the most avid sustainable aquarist.  

Russell Kelley, Sadly, from this email chain I have received no images, data, or proof of any destructive practices which is startling because you would think this is the place to find them.   You are very right, "persuading the aquarium industry to promote transparent supply chains” would highlight who these sustainable, and destructive players are.   How would someone persuade the aquarium industry as a whole to do such a thing?  I don’t think thats possible, it needs to come from a bottom up stance, and from CITES, inducing sustainable mariculture and aquaculture as a standard and the only method allowed.  This would drastically raise prices of Corals for the aquarium trade, but then again its all relative and a price humans affix.  Their ecological value is not incorporated into these prices.  It would also exponentially increase the cost of LPS corals.  (Scolymia, Cynaria, Lobophyllia, Heliofungia, Acanthastrea, Cataphyllia)

Ryan Donnelly & Russell Kelley
I am sorry, but the types of Soft Fleshy Corals (LPS) that come out of Australia for the Aquarium trade are extremely slow growing, taking on average 3-5, even 10 years to even obtain a sellable size! (Scolymia, Cynaria, Lobophyllia, Heliofungia, Acanthastrea, Cataphyllia) to name the common Australian LPS exports.  I find it hard to rely on a report once every 3 years conducted most likely with minimal funding, could successfully monitor these animals, especially over the vast range they inhabit.  I understand its a natural resource which should be governed locally, but as the current state of the GBR shows, local governance has had little effect on halting actions which further deteriorate the GBR water quality, ecology, and resilience.  Receiving a D, several years in a row on your own report card for GBR water quality, removing all mentions of your name from UN reports, and still approving plans to build large coal mines upstream from the GBR doesn’t sound good to me, and does not instill trust.  Also, just because Australia’s regulations are actually in place for coral harvesting, and they maintain quotas, which is far better than most countries does not mean they are correct.  Just because your ahead of the crowd, does not mean you are on the right path.

Please explain what modifications to harvesting have occurred given the events taken place in the past 2 years?

Sarah, while I understand there are alternatives to utilizing live aquarium subjects for display, this would completely deny the right for newer generations to learn the valuable lessons live corals can teach them.  I am sure there is a lot of valuable information live coral specimens taught you that no dried specimen ever could.  I am sure you used those lessons in such a way to make a huge difference for Coral Reefs in certain parts of the world, Thank You! 

Colin, You have been an outstanding advocate for the beauty and importance of Coral.  I encourage everyone to watch some of the video's Colin has produced through Coral Morphologic because they show Coral in a light that is rarely seen and appreciated by those outside the hobby/field. The ability to learn to grow corals in aquariums has granted innovation and discoveries that would possibly be nonexistent today.  The knowledge gained by keeping these delicate animals alive in aquarium systems is interdisciplinary on every level.  Learning how to reliably induce sexual spawning in an aquarium would be the next greatest leap for active reef restoration, aside from reducing CO2 emissions!  

Damien Beri

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