Wednesday
Jun132007

CITES backs red, pink and other corals

UPDATE: The CITES decision described below was overturned in plenary. More information here

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Red corals are widely used for the manufacture of jewellery © Crawford Allen / TRAFFIC Click to enlarge
The Hague, The Netherlands 13 June 2007—Red, pink and other coral species in the genus Corallium will be better protected from over-exploitation after CITES today adopted a proposal from the US to list Corallium in Appendix II of the Convention. Appendix II allows trade in a species under strict conditions.

Red and pink corals and other lesser known species of Corallium are used mainly for the manufacture of jewellery and art. They are found throughout the world’s tropical and temperate seas and are harvested in the Mediterranean and Western Pacific.

“This is the best possible decision to start getting the trade in these corals under some form of international control,” said Ernie Cooper, a coral trade expert from TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network. “Until now most species of Corallium have been over-harvested as a result of a free-for-all situation.”

There are no international trade controls in place, nor any consistent management plan, TRAFFIC and WWF say. And the life histories of most Corallium species, such as late maturation, slow growth and low fecundity make them particularly vulnerable to over-exploitation, according to both organizations.  

Corallium populations off parts of the Italian, French and Spanish coasts are no longer commercially viable, while in the Western Pacific they have been depleted within five years of their discovery and harvest is shifting to newly discovered populations.

Corallium products reach high prices on the market and are traded worldwide. It is also very difficult to identify which species of coral is used in the finish products.

“CITES listed all the hard corals in Appendix II more than a decade ago, and we are pleased to see the Convention protect these precious corals as well,” said Dr Susan Lieberman, Director of WWF’s Global Species Programme. “Now, consumers of these beautiful items will be part of the solution, and not part of the problem.”

For more information:
Richard Thomas, Communications Coordinator at TRAFFIC International, m +31 634163625 richard.thomas@trafficint.org
Joanna Benn, Communications Manager, WWF Global Species Programme, m +31 634 163140 jbenn@wwfspecies.org
Olivier van Bogaert, WWF International's Press Office, m +41 794773572 ovanbogaert@wwfint.org

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