View Full Version : Response to the NOAA situation

09/11/2014, 07:29 PM
Coral thought of the day....

It may be unpopular but it's the truth.

I think that most of the corals that are listed on NOAA's report and list should stay in the wild and not be collected on a large scale or at all for the home hobby. Simply put, the vast majority of aquarists would have significant hurdles providing them with the environments that they need.

Please don't get me wrong, I don't want to see A. lokanis and A. jacquelineae go away. Some of these animals are proven to culture well and their continued culture can provide a seed to wild populations that are in peril (I DO understand the limitations of captive corals being replanted, it would have to be done properly by the correct people).

Most of these animals just need what we can't provide and its criminal to take them out of the wild into certain death, these are animals that have been here longer than us, letís show some respect. Looking each species up that is from the report, it's an obvious choice for most of them to stay in the wild. Some are just outright rare and many have flow and tank size requirements that are just unattainable for the average hobbyist. With the proper education and funding we have the capability all keep these species, but many times aquarists get conflicting information that can cause problems. We all know that thereís a 1000 ways to keep a tank but conflicting information and lack of understanding causes us all to struggle sometimes.

Iíve been a hobbyist for 14 years, I love this industry and I love these animals. There hasnít been a time when I didnít work at a fish store or had a fish tank since 1999 (I even paid for them as a kid!). Iíve seen a lot, a hobby pre- and post-Nemo and the rise of frags. This method of sale is great for the industry and what many donít think about, conservation, fewer mother colonies need to brought in to supply local demands, itís perfect! But isnít the objective of having these corals to grow them out into as close to their natural beauty and grandeur as we can? We have a window into another world, we all want it to be nature in a box. Iíve had my struggles and learned a lot from them but if we canít get a tabling Acropora sp. to table, even with the information that is so widely available now, have we really provided the correct environment for them? I donít think so. This has to be a philosophy for everyone. The avid hobbyists to the novice, we need to educate everyone in this from Day 1 and revisit the natural wild part of this as well. Itíll go a long way for the future of these animals.
What about if this ban goes through? How are they going to enforce it and how far reaching will it really be? Any kind of large scale enforcement will be costly, so how are they going to properly implement it as not to cost money and lives? No one wants an all-out ban so how can we avoid it is the next question?

Why can't these 20 corals be listed on a "permit only basis" with certified collectors and farmers to ensure a legal supply chain? This, along with stricter CITES limitations will ensure that fewer animals are collected from the wild. I do believe that Mariculture facilities and their CITIES should be exempt from this limitation so that they can benefit from enforcement as long as a portion of their animals go to coral reef restoration projects. On the local, retail side, create a distribution network for "permitted" stores to sell them, weíll call them Certified Coral Vendors or CCVís for short, a pseudo MAC certification here. It will raise the bar to run a retail store and I don't want to see that but it's better than losing the entire industry and hobby. What we do now is important, there has been legislation before but each year it seems more inevitable that someday there will be a severely limited hobby. What if this is an idea that gains traction or at least starts a conversation but what happens if you limit it in this manner, I know itíll be a pain but itís better than not being able to get them in 20 or 30 years, maybe sooner? If we're going to have to deal with this eventuality, why not confront it head on, ďearly onĒ?

I think that this plan would also be beneficial to stores, Supply-side limitation will raise and maintain the price. ďThreatenedĒ species will become a larger investment for the retail customer (donít worry, $10 frags, Zoanthids, and soft corals will always be inexpensive). A properly educated retail staff and customer will ensure that they can provide the correct environment for them before they purchase these animals.

To be real, if they try to enforce an all-out ban on these corals the amount of government wasted spending would far exceed the amount needed to properly fund conservation efforts to "re-plant" artificial reefs along our coastlines and abroad.

Honestly if they have to fund programs, I wouldn't mind paying an extra couple of bucks on each coral at time of importation to go to programs to help educate governmental workers, schools, and help pay for conservation projects, maybe even kick-backs to Mariculture, Aqua-culture, and Research facilities thru joint projects. I think that we can all suck it up for a couple of bucks to help make sure that we can survive and learn as much as we can about these animals.

Education for F+W is crucial, they are the gate keepers. These new controlled species will create identification errors either way, but eliminating as many as possible is the goal. Many of these inspectors could have difficulty identifying individual species (it's pretty hard through a bag) as it is and there will be an emphasis on identification immediately. The potential for improper ID and the seizure of animals that are completely legal is real. On the other side, this will have larger consequences; with shipments being held longer due inspection, the animals will endure extra stress for an extended time. These extra hours can be critical if a shipment has already been delayed, the hours add up quickly. Larger amounts of D.O.A.'s could lead to a misconception of what this trade really is, an amazing vibrant group of people with a passion for something bigger than themselves. People get outraged when they see Yellow Tangs and Achilles Tangs on ice. What happens when they see large amounts of corals dead? The importation of black corals was stopped because of this (plus it was just awful). It can spell disaster if the industry is made out to be this way, and can and will be spun against us if it happens. The reality is that enforcement can and will be disruptive to the legal importation of corals and we need to work thru the proper channels to minimize it. I hope that they can enforce a comprehensive, yet flexible set of rules. If otherwise, it could be a significant future problem for all of us that love these animals and have learned so much from keeping tanks and working with them.

There is no question that these animals need to be protected and as one of the premier aquarium marketplaces in the world, we need to take responsibility and help our lawmakers do the right thing. Allow an amazing market, with a unique and diverse base to flourish while helping to give back to the reefs. Itís not hard, there are many organizations trying to do so.

09/11/2014, 07:40 PM
I personally would have no problem with that. If they want to say they can't be collected from the oceans because they are endangered that's great. That would be a conservation effort. Especially in cases that are very difficult to be cared for in the home aquarium. Why take them from the ocean to be killed off repeatedly in captivity. But if they are able to be grown and replicated in captivity why ban their sales? Make them acquirable from only USDA approved and inspected breeders. Make any sale have certificates that prove they were captive produced. There are many ways this can be dealt with.

But to say they're probably doomed in the wild so lets take actions that doom what populations we have in captivity as well is just incomprehensible. "Well their doomed out there so lets make sure they really do all die off!" Make 10 year + prison penalties for illegal collections or some such thing to discourage poaching from the wild. But let people that have a true interest in real conservation try to preserve these animals not give in to the irrational monthly whims of activists.

09/13/2014, 05:54 AM
Uhh... what?
Since when is there a problem providing a suitable environment for Acroporas, Montis, Pavonas, Porites, Seriatopora and Euphyllias?

Given how powerful stream pumps and high powered lighting systems are today, the few corals that we actually really struggly with are those non-photosynthetic ones that require massive quantities of food to thrive, which most cannot provide without fouling up the water.

09/17/2014, 09:37 AM
To the OP: Not one of the corals on the list is truly endangered or threatened. This is according to Dr. John Charlie Veron, who I and many others take to be a world coral expert. In fact, it is his data that was used to create the list, but he doesn't agree with the conclusions. At all.

So your post is just flat out wrong. Please go educate yourself.

09/17/2014, 06:11 PM
One Dr. does not a consensus make.

While I would support the OPs suggestion (and be willing to pay additional taxes to cover the enforcement required) there are many people in the current political climate that would not be willing to pay for such enforcement, and unfortunately those people seem to hold sway. Permitting requires people to do the permits, check them, prevent forgeries, track down the creators of forgeries, the creation of international agreements, etc... All of that costs money.

09/17/2014, 06:58 PM
Coral identification and enforcement has already proven broken, even before the supposed was supposed to take place. To pay extra taxes to fund enforcement would definitely not get my support. Instead maybe funding more research and education.. That I could definitely, and happily, do until my trust in enforcement (importation and regulation) reaches trusting levels.

09/17/2014, 08:15 PM
Dr. Veron is certainly not alone in his view, and of course I wouldn't be citing him if he were.