Ep. 2 The Fate of the Stony Corals and the Endagered Species Act

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Some unsettling news coming out of MACNA (Marine Aquarium Conference of North America) this last weekend in Denver, Colorado. So many booths and companies showing off their new products, some amazing innovations for the trade, some exciting news with huge steps in tank bred fish, so why are we beginning to hear about all these issues surrounding the aquarium trade? The Endangered Species Act was a hot topic with many talks from well known Marine Biologists in the field, including the great Julian Sprung owner of Two Little Fishies, a very stout, marine supply company. This is a pressing and very important topic, but it was lackluster in attendance and even author Tony Vargas expressed his disappointment of the turnout. Yes MACNA is a great event where vendors show off their new toys and new fish, but the pressing and most important topic this year at the show, is in regards to the ESA and the impact it would have on the aquarium trade.

Back in August, there were 20 species of Indo-Pacific corals that were listed under the ESA and most of these corals species, Montipora and Acropora, a very attractive and favorite coral for hobbyists to keep.  Now another 83 proposed coral are being introduced into yet another bill to include these on the same list. Some of the species that are in the latest 20 species report are:

Acropora cervicornis (Staghorn)

Acropora palmata (Elkhorn)

Mycetophyllia ferox

Dendrogyra cylindrus

Orbicella annularis

Orbicella faveolata

Orbicella franksi

Acropora globiceps

Acropora jacquelineae  

Acropora lokani    

Acropora pharaonis    

Acropora retusa

Acropora rudis  

Acropora speciosa

Acropora tenella    

Anacropora spinosa    

Euphyllia paradivisa  

Isopora crateriformis  

Montipora australiensis    

Pavona diffluens

Porites napopora    

Seriatopora aculeata

That's a lot of corals! But this could mean big and daunting implications for hobbyists, biologists, and mariculturists alike.

                                                                    We Want You.....To Leave Corals Alone

                                                                    We Want You.....To Leave Corals Alone

I am all for protecting and preserving wildlife. Conservationists have been doing this since our ancestors first came over from their homeland. John Muir was one of the pioneers to set up protected land which then became National Parks. The animals, fauna, trails and the beauty within was therefore "protected". So why has congress and the government been so late to the party to help with what covers almost 80% of our Earth, the Ocean? Hard to say for sure but you can bet there are some big "companies" out there that are throwing in their 2 cents, well millions more like it.

 

So NOAA (The National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration), a federal agency mind you, had a petition received by (The Center for Biodiversity) about the need to protect these corals. Basically stating, that importing, collecting, or even culturing of these corals would be illegal under the Endangered Species Act. It would hamper all the progress Julian Sprung and President of The Coral Restoration Foundation, Ken Nedimyer. Ken and his team of volunteers and scientists have feverishly been trying to restock the Floridian Coasts of the loss of the Elk horn coral, also listed in the ESA report. The thing is, these lawmakers and congress-folk don't see what is really going on beneath the waves, forgive the pun, but we as hobbyists have really change the tides in the way corals and fish are bought and kept. This hobby has played a huge role in just the last 15 years in helping coral reefs survive what we as humans have already done, plagued the ocean!
 

                                                    Coral Tree Nursery photo compliments of Tim Grollimund of CRF

                                                    Coral Tree Nursery photo compliments of Tim Grollimund of CRF


Sure, humans are to blame a great deal for the effects of Global Warming, ocean acidification, increased C02 in the atmosphere, overfishing, so on and so on, but there is a humungous groups of organizations, independent researchers, and mariculturists that are helping change the tides of this growing epidemic. The Marine Trade community has made great strides over the years in rebounding disappearing reefs, organizations like the Coral Restoration Foundation who, over the years, have successfully been introducing depleted stag-horn corals in Floridian waters.



                                                             President Ken Nedimyer of the Coral Restoration Foundation

                                                             President Ken Nedimyer of the Coral Restoration Foundation

The big implication here is, there were not enough people coming to see these pioneers speak. Everyone wants to see the latest designer clownfish, or the newest protein skimmer, but what is really happening right under our noses, is the quiet shutdown of an industry that not only brings in countless amounts of GNP to many countries, but the efforts of conservationists will all be for not. We want to see our coral reefs rebound and I don't have any issues with adding corals to these lists, but when the wordings are change to make even processing one of these corals as a felony, is straight ludicrous. Without the efforts of our trade, we are limiting the wild caught method of collecting ornamental fish and corals, restoring depleting stocks of corals and fish through aquaculturing and tank breeding and if this bill is to go through and be passed, would mean certain doom for our slowly rebounding coral reefs around the world.

                                                                                                            Coral Garden in Indonesia

                                                                                                            Coral Garden in Indonesia

This is what our reefs will look like in 20 years if our CO2 emissions remain the same and help is not provided

                                               Barren Coral Reef due to Human Interventions and Neglect

                                               Barren Coral Reef due to Human Interventions and Neglect

                                                                                                             Dying Reef

                                                                                                             Dying Reef

Sure, humans are to blame a great deal for the effects of Global Warming, ocean acidification, increased C02 in the atmosphere, overfishing, so on and so on, but there is a humungous groups of organizations, independent researchers, and mariculturists that are helping change the tides of this growing epidemic. The Marine Trade community has made great strides over the years in rebounding disappearing reefs, organizations like the Coral Restoration Foundation who, over the years, have successfully been introducing depleted stag-horn corals in Floridian waters.

We as hobbyists and reef enthusiasts are the ones making strides in trying to help our coral reefs around the world. If all of these corals are put on the endangered species list, our chances of getting these species to rebound is out of reach. It would be illegal to posses one and would carry heavy fines. I compare this to manufacturing drugs but yet it still happens every day. We as hobbyists need to fight what the Government "thinks" is the right course of action, as I believe that we can really make a difference in saving our reefs around the world so they one day look like the treasures of the world they once were.

What are you thoughts on these issues?

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