Oceana outraged by CITES’ failure to protect corals

Environmental Group Remains Hopeful about Shark Proposals

Press Release Date: March 22, 2010

Location: Madrid


Marta Madina | email: mmadina@oceana.org | tel.: Marta Madina

Oceana, the world’s largest international ocean conservation organization, released the following statement from Ricardo Aguilar, Research Director for Oceana Europe, today following the decision to not include 31 species of red and pink coral in Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES): “Vanity has once again trumped conservation. Today is yet another example of CITES failing to protect endangered marine species. Red and pink coral were not given the trade protections promised during the last CITES Conference more than two and a half years ago. These corals are increasingly harvested to support the growing demand for jewelry and souvenirs”. Aguilar warned that “the unregulated and virtually unmanaged collection and trade of these 31 species is driving them to extinction. The catch of red and pink coral has dropped by more than 80 percent in the last 50 years. This is clearly a failure of CITES to protect one of the smallest marine organisms. Today’s decision sets a terrible precedent for future CITES proposals on ocean species.”About Corals and CITES:From March 13 to 25, representatives from 175 countries are meeting in Doha, Qatar, for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species’ (CITES) 15th Conference of the Parties. During these two weeks, countries will decide on the inclusion of 31 species of red and pink coral in CITES Appendix II. An Appendix II listing would require the use of export permits to ensure that the species were caught by a legal and sustainably managed fishery.These coral species are found in tropical, subtropical and temperate waters in all oceans and at the depths of 10 to 5,000 meters. Many species are long-lived, reaching more than 100 years of age, and grow slowly, usually less than one millimetre in thickness per year. These colonies are fragile and extremely vulnerable to exploitation and destruction, and their biological characteristics also severely limit their subsequent recovery.Precious corals have been highly exploited around the world by the jewellery and souvenir industries, as well as for certain homeopathic products. Overexploitation has caused a decline in production in the past few decades of almost 70 percent in some species.In addition to the direct collection of these species, other factors, including fishing activities in coral habitat and the higher sea temperatures and increased ocean acidification resulting from global climate change.