Proceedings of the First International Workshop on Corallium Science, Management, and Trade
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Proceedings of the First International Workshop on Corallium Science, Management, and Trade.
Corallium has been intensively harvested for centuries, and both landings and population data provide strong evidence that most commercially viable Corallium beds are now depleted. Long term trends in landings from both the Pacific and Mediterranean and available data on population demographics of Mediterranean C. rubrum populations provide considerable evidence that known commercial beds of Corallium have declined to less than 20-30% of their historic baseline, meeting
the criteria required for a CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) Appendix-II listing (Bruckner 2009). Nevertheless, questions remain regarding the effective implementation of a potential listing. There are difficulties in identifying
Corallium specimens to species, especially processed material (polished and dyed jewelry including powdered and reconstituted Corallium). Identification to family (Coralliidae) or genus (Corallium, Paracorallium) may be possible and may be allowed under CITES, mirroring the approach taken with some of the other listed corals. If a CITES listing were adopted, countries would need to develop procedures for handling stockpiled coral harvested prior to a listing, which would be considered pre-Convention and could be traded under a CITES exemption document. There are also large local markets and trade between neighboring European Union countries, which would not be regulated by CITES.
While regulating the international trade in Corallium presents challenges, a CITES listing could reduce illegal trade and promulgate stronger management and enforcement efforts by giving both exporting and importing countries joint responsibility for ensuring that trade is sustainable. A CITES listing requires monitoring and annual reporting of international trade, filling critical gaps in knowledge of harvest and trade levels. A listing would also promote research on the status and trends of Corallium populations and the impacts of fisheries, as well as the adoption of sustainable management approaches. Exporting countries would be required to meet nondetriment requirements of a CITES Appendix-II listing. While new administrative burdens would be associated with a CITES listing for Corallium, these are not insurmountable, having been successfully resolved in other species that presented similar challenges including stony corals, antipatharians, and seahorses.
The following information includes a brief summary of what is known about the harvest, trade, and population status of Corallium. This is followed by an overview of recent activities undertaken to conserve these species through CITES, and the rationale for technical workshops on Corallium.