First Polar Bears, Sharks, and Bluefin Tuna--Now Coral to Remain Unprotected Too


Photo via Artqueen

They're really whipping through the endangered species over there at the UN's Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species--after deciding that it wasn't worth restricting trade on polar bears, sharks, and the extremely vulnerable and critically endangered bluefin tuna, CITES has moved on to pink and red coral. The EU and the US motioned to simply monitor the coral, which is growing more endangered thanks to its being harvested for jewelry. It's one of the WWF's top ten species needing global action But the international body wasn't having it. Mongabay reports:

(CITES) has today voted against additional protections for harvested coral species, according to TRAFFIC, a wildlife trade monitoring group. The joint US and EU measure would have put in place scientific and trade monitoring of over thirty species of red and pink coral in the Mediterranean and western Pacific.

The corals are harvested to make jewelry. But ... the coral have seen a significant decline: over 85% in thirty years. Marine conservations warn that the corals are too slow-growing to sustain such heavy collecting, since they require a hundred years to reach maturity.

If you've been following CITES at all, here's a fun little question: guess who orchestrated the ban's rejection? Hint: it was the nation that lobbied most heavily (by far) to keep the critically endangered tuna off the endangered species list too. Yup, Japan! I'm not sure if Japan is attempting to create an image of itself as a nation that hates all things that live underwater, but if it is, it's succeeding beyond its wildest dreams. I mean, it already notoriously disregards the international ban on whaling to take part in a practice most nations consider cruel, and gave up decades ago. Here's Mongabay again:
Japan, which also led the movement to reject the ban on the Atlantic bluefin tuna trade, lobbied others to vote 'NO' against the monitoring. The country argued that deep water corals are not facing extinction and that monitoring would impact poor coastal fishing communities, especially in North African nations. The vote was done secretly.
What does Japan have against sea creatures, anyways? However, it's not like our hands are all that clean, either--the US is the world's largest purchaser of coral jewelry. And thanks to that trade, coral--which is already suffering due to warming oceans--gets harvested to the tune of 30-50 tons a year. So in case anyone hasn't gotten the memo yet: let's forgo the coral jewelry.

More on Coral
6 Steps to Saving the World's Coral Reefs
Underwater Museum to Protect Coral Reefs in Mexico

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