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CITES 2010 Indonesian Coral Quotas Now in Force

By John Dawes

Importers of Indonesian hard corals experienced a recent interruption of supplies, caused by the late publication of export quotas by CITES. On April 15, however, the new quotas were posted on the CITES website. As a result, exports of CITES Appendix II-listed hard corals have now resumed.

The new CITES export quotas for 54 genera and species of Indonesian hard corals are now in force. Courtesy of John Dawes
All the well-known genera, such as Euphyllia (with a quota of 78,000 specimens), Goniopora (with a quota of 132,600 specimens), Acropora (with a quota of 13,000 specimens), Catalaphyllia (with a quota of 25,000 specimens), etc., are included in the list, along with a host of lesser-known hard corals.

In addition to the list of 54 various genera and species of hard corals that may now be exported within the stated quotas, 900,000 pieces of Indonesian substrate—i.e., pieces of coral rock that are attached to invertebrate species not included in the CITES Appendices and that are also transported in water (just as live corals are)—may now be exported.

With regard to live rock—which is defined as live specimens of invertebrate species and coralline algae not listed in the CITES Appendices that are attached to pieces of coral rock and that are transported moist within crates, but not in water—the list allows for 450,000kg of these to be exported.

Two genera of hydrozoans (lace and fire or stinging corals) are also included: Distichopora spp. (with a quota of 1,455 specimens) and Millepora spp. (with a quota of 1,940 specimens). 

As of April 15, the “rules of engagement” with regard to Indonesian hard corals (and the above-mentioned associated products and organisms) have therefore been set. In due course, they will, of course, be reviewed and adjusted, perhaps before the next CITES Conference of the Parties (CoP), due in two years’ time, or at the CoP itself.

On the one hand, we should welcome the quotas, at least, in the sense that legal trade can now resume, albeit within the limits set by the quotas. On the other hand, though, lists such as this give cause for some doubts regarding the validity or relevance of some of the quotas or the basis on which they are determined.

For example, how does one reconcile figures such as 5,093 for Merulina ampliata, or 12,610 for Nemenzophyllia turbida, with the actual status of these (and other) species in the real world? Are we really expected to believe that an export total of 5,093 specimens of M. ampliata—instead of 5,095, or 5,100, or 5,200, or any other such “rounded” figure—is a true reflection of the level of protection deemed necessary for the species, or of its abundance or rarity in the wild, i.e., the threat level the species faces with the allowance of harvesting?

Can anyone accurately estimate such levels as the quote figure for M. ampliata of 5,093 implies? Or the 10 in the 12,610 pieces allowed for N. turbida, or that of 5,432 for Galathea astreata?

Of course not. So why is such an approach so regularly deemed appropriate in determining quotas, whether they are applied to hard corals or any other controlled-trade organism? <HOME>


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CITES 2010 Indonesian Coral Quotas Now in Force

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