This week Indonesia announced plans to begin setting quotas on coral trade in an effort to preserve its coral reefs. The country has seen the negative impact of destructive fishing, tourism, climate change and coral trading on its precious reefs and they are looking to do something to preserve its Â diverse marine ecosystem. According to a 2003 study by Johns Hopkins University, Indonesia, with nearly 53,000 square miles of coral reefs, is home to one third of the worldâ€™s coral and a quarter of its fish species and recent data shows that 70 percent of the countryâ€™s reefs are in fair to poor conditions. Once the Indonesian government has the quotas in place, traders will be advised to sell only transplanted corals (about 50 species in Bali and West Nusa Tenggara can be transplanted). Read more about this after the break.
Although CITES in already working to protect corals reefs from trade that could threaten their survival, adding another layer at the collection end helps to tighten the loop on responsible practices in the industry. Neighboring countries in the coral triangle, like Papau New Guinea, have witnessed the negative impact on Indonesiaâ€™s reefs and are putting in practices to educate and promote safe harvesting practices like PNGâ€™s SEASMART program.
Having education and regulations in use in collection areas could hopefully keep illicit corals, such as the Rhizotrochus typus, from ever entering the trade. Granted there will always be unscrupulous people seeking out, illegally collecting and shipping these corals but hopefully government controls and fines will keep this in check.
Of course this could also potentially have an impact on the price of corals we see imported from Indonesia. The increased fees and restrictions could make collection a bit more difficult with local collectors and exporters passing the costs on down the chain of custody. This could be minimal in comparison to the super-high prices of limited edition or other pricey collector corals we seem to impose on ourselves in the hobby.
In the end, we are glad to see initiative from the points of origin above and beyond CITES for the marine life we see in the hobby. Knowing a level of accountability is in place at the local level not only fuels the hobby with new and exciting livestock and corals but will help preserve and repair some of the human impact on the worldâ€™s reefs.