Dave, the regulations under the Endangered Species Act are meant to
protect ‘endangered’ species from becoming extinct and 'protected’
species from becoming ‘endangered’. These regulations are normally
not unilateral but done in an international setting under CITES
agreements. On the international scene, the US EPA has participated
since 1992 with Japan, Australia, Jamaica, France, the United Kingdom
and the Philippines in the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI).
The ICRI has identified coral reefs as ecosystems of great
biodiversity that should be given high priority for protection and
standardized management. The ICRI is working for the health and
well-being of coral reefs worldwide.
In the US, the Department of Interior’s Fish and Wildlifve Service
works to conserve, protect, and enhance fish and wildlife and their
habitats. The Service’s major responsibilities include the
administration and enforcement of the Endangered Species Act of 1973
(16 U.S.C. 1531-1544, 87 Stat. 884). Under the act, ‘endangered’ means
a species is considered in danger of extinction throughout all or a
significant portion of its ranged; ‘threatened’ status applies to
species considered in danger of becoming ‘endangered’ in the
forseeable future. MORE THAN 700 NATIVE SPECIES ARE CURRENTLY ON THE
The Fish and Wildlife Service is also involved in international
activites aimed at the conversation of endangered or threatened
species through the Convention on International Trade in Endangered
Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), A TREATY THAT HAS BEEN IN
EFFECT SINCE 1975 SUPPORTED BY 134 MEMBER COUNTRIES. Under this
treaty, signators monitor traffic in endangered or threatened species
and, when necessary, arrest and prosecute those who violate
international agreements. (I am aware of a number of cases whereby
offenders have been arrested and prosecuted)
Of the 116 international environmental resources organizations
monitoring our environment there are at least 8 dedicated tomonitoring
coral reefs worldwide (as of 1997). Add to this, environmental
agencies in all 50 states plus the CITES and ICRI organizations and
you arrive at a huge interlocking spiderweb of governmental,
quasi-governmental and private/academic watchdog efforts aimed at
protecting coral and coral reefs.
I remember vividly in the 1970’s watching boats returning to Taiwan
from Okinawa where they had dredged hundreds of tons of gem quality
pink and red corals. Well, that isn’t the case any longer. The
regulations require strict licensing procedures and control over
harvest quotas. Is coral harvested?..yes. Is it haphazard? No, at
least not in most areas. It is done responsibly and trade is
restricted. In short the regulations are not there to stop harvesting
all together but to control it. These days, those who study coral
reefs are more concerned with natural predators and diseases of coral,
not to mention the harm from recreational diving and careless boat
operators, than the amount of harvesting being done.
In my view, if you can obtain red coral for your pieces then by all
means use it. Chances are it has been harvested legally.
I have not used the following source but understand they deal in both
tourquoise and (what is being called) Italian red coral. Note
previously red coral was taken from areas around the Med but for many
years now, most ‘Italian’ red coral has come from Okinawa.
Italian red coral. R.H. & Co., Inc, 1031 S. Central Ave, Glendale, Ca,
91204, phone 800-242-1233.