My concern is that by listing any species of corals as endangered, our otherwise scientifically-rewarding hobby will be made criminal, and further advancements in coral aquaculture and understanding will come to a halt. I am but one of many thousands of coral aquaculturists in the US that are enthusiastically engaged in this activity. Over the past 20 years, the secrets of coral husbandry have been unraveled. What scientists once considered impossible (keeping corals alive in an aquarium) is now commonplace. Groundbreaking discoveries by home aquarists, and technological advances in lighting and filtration from the private sector have paved the way for public aquariums and universities to follow in our footsteps. This proposed legislation has the potential to end new innovations in live coral science and aquaculture research.
It has been with much disappointment that I read the article, “U.S. Considers Endangered Species Protection for 82 Stony Coral Species” recently published in CORAL and the numerous internet discussions it has spawned. What could have been an informative article on the Endangered Species Act was hijacked by Marshall Meyers to promote the knee-jerk reaction that this action must be stopped at all costs, which has become all too predictable from the hobby.
A petition to classify 82 stony corals as Endangered Species under U.S. law could spell doom—or a bureaucratic nightmare—for any business or individual aquaculturing corals or live rock for the aquarium trade, industry experts are predicting.
The headline “Are Aquariums Getting Too Lifelike?” is splashed across the top of the front page of today’s Science Times section of The New York Times, with a jumbo image of Joe Yaiullo doing maintenance in the 20,000-gallon reef at Atlantis Marine World. The article, by Henry Fountain, provides a balance of viewpoints, but it has Florida marinelife collectors, and state wildlife regulators, lining up to defend themselves.
A move to place more than 80 species of stony corals on the Endangered Species list appears to be gaining traction with the U.S. federal government. A petition from an Arizona-based environmental group calls for protection of 8 Caribbean and Western Atlantic species, 9 corals in the Hawaiian Islands, and 66 species from the Indo-Pacific.