Already plagued by a bucketful of ecological maladies, the Mediterranean faces further degradation of its precious coral, Bikya Masr reports. In December several Mediterranean countries were among those that shot down a potential Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) measure to protect diminishing red and pink coral. “Human livelihood issues” was the most widely cited reason for opposition.
Corallium rubrum is common in the Mediterranean Sea and is favored for its strong skeleton out of which jewelry and other decorations are made. Unfortunately, their ubiquity has shrunk as a result of unsustainable extraction and environmental factors.
Last December in Qatar, Sweden put forward a proposal to monitor the trade of the 30-50 species of Corallidae, a move that was supported by the United Arab Emirates, but struck down by 59 member countries.
Too many fisherman and other people depend on coral for their livelihood, according to opposition voices. Tunisia claims that 5,000 jobs would be lost if CITES protection were extended to red coral. Morocco and Libya were also among those who voted against monitoring trade.
Most of the remaining red coral is only 3-5cm tall, compared to its previous 50cm height. It only matures after 100 years and is therefore very difficult to resuscitate. In some cases, the coral will never return.
As a result of this meeting, Corrillidae will enjoy no protection, but American delegates are convinced that the countries in favor of the measure, currently at 64, will eventually succeed in achieving the necessary 2/3 majority required for an appendix to pass.
America, meanwhile, imported 28 million pieces of coral between 2001 and 2008, according to CITES.
:: Bikya Masr
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