Illegal Trade in Ornamental Corals


  Since 2016, Nusa Dua Reef Foundation (NDRF) has collaboration with Regional Center of Fish Quarantine, Quality Control (BKIPM) Denpasar for conserve corals confiscated from illegal trade in ornamental corals. NDRF as a conservation organization has been trusted to release in the wild and manage its coral reefs species for conservation, education and tourism purposes.

  Recently we received about 800 corals were taken from natural habitat, without official documents and its mean illegal trade. These corals have been harvested from the wild in the coral reefs area around Sumbawa Island, NTB and in on the way transported to Banyuwangi, East Java, where the coral exporter company runs its business there. Its transport was stop at Gilimanuk port, Bali by BKIPM on 4th July 2017 and confiscated, then taken to Mengiat Beach at night, followed by the official delivery to NDRF on 5th July 2017.

  Many corals have dead because of stress and passing long journey during transport from the wild to the shelter. The remaining corals were still alive but yet in the very stress condition.  Those corals have been harvested, separated from the main colony and need to save as soon as possible.  Immediate rescue action was carried out by NDRF in collaboration with Coral Reef Aquaculture Group of Pesona Bahari and CV Agung, by transferring coral into the sea. The corals were placed carefully on the nursery place, monitor it regularly, until it is healthy enough to be returned to the wild.

  Corals harvesting from natural habitat has been strictly regulated by Indonesian government by issuing quotas. According to CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), corals are on the list of Appendix II. It means that their international trade have to be closely controlled to avoid over exploitation, and to guarantee that trade will not be detrimental to the survival of the species in the wild. To minimize coral trade which is harvested from the natural habitat, coral transplantation is an alternative way, but some regulations should be applied to guarantee sustainability of coral reef ecosystem. But yet, high demand for live coral for ornamental has been triggered corals harvesting from natural habitat, especially for certain species such as Cynarina lacrymalis, Catalaphyllia jardiney, Alveopora, and others, encourage overexploitation. Overexploitation of these species could result in severe localized extirpations.

  In Indonesia, the exploitation of live corals for export has been started almost 40 years. Indonesia government regulates the number of colonies that can be exported each year in accordance to the coral species and the origin of coral from the province that is allowed location for harvesting. Officially there are 2 institutions responsible for this regulation, that are Management Authority (MA) given to Directorate General of Forest Protection and Nature Conservation, Department of Environment and Forestry and Scientific Authority (SA) is given to Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI).

  Until now Indonesia is listed as the largest exporter ornamental corals in the world. Generally, these ornamental corals are exported to Europe and the United States. Of the 569 existing corals species in Indonesia, currently traded as many as 81 species (14%). Live corals traded are coral reefs species that have beautiful colours, exotic colonies and exotic tentacles, such as Acropora formosa, Alveopora spongiosa, Blastomussa wellsi, Catalaphyllia jardinei, Cynarina lacrymalis Echinopora lamellose, Euphyllia divisa, Favites chinensis, Galaxea fascicularis, Scolymia Vitiensis, and others.

  The size of the traded corals ranges from 10 – 25 Cm and is generally 15 cm in size. Other countries that still trade live corals from nature include Australia, Fiji, Malaysia, Vietnam, Ghana, Solomon, Vanuatu, Israel. The value of Indonesian ornamental coral trade ranges between US $ 6.2 million.

  Yes, trade in ornamental coral reef wildlife supports a multi-million-dollar industry but in some places threatens vulnerable coral reef species and ecosystems due to unsustainable practices and lack of effective regulation. Further conservation and management strategies of ornamental coral reefs wildlife is a must.

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