Thursday, 23 August 2007

Too Precious to Wear - Corals At Risk

Trade protection for precious rednecklace corals reversed by secret ballot

Over the past several years, the popularity of precious corals for jewelry, fashion, and décor has permeated markets from Asia and Europe to the United States. Such strong consumer interest threatens coral reefs, yet offers a unique opportunity for us to play a role in saving them.

coralThe corals that make up reefs around the world are living animals that provide marine species with food, fertile grounds for reproduction, and a safe haven from predators. Coral reefs host the most diverse array of species of any ecosystem in the ocean. Although they cover less than 1% of the ocean floor, these reefs are home to more than 25% of all species in the sea. Because of their longevity – some reefs may be 40,000 years old – they record changes in the environment, making them archives for the ocean’s history. And modern medicine is exploring how corals might cure diseases and save lives.

coral piecesBut these beautiful creatures are in crisis. The precious corals used in jewelry have suffered greatly from overfishing to meet demand for this fashion item. Corals grow so slowly that it can take decades for them to recover, if at all. Other threats include destructive fishing gears, oil and gas exploration, invasive species, and climate change. Despite the severity of these issues, recent polls show that people remain confused about why coral reefs are at risk today and, moreover, why they should care.

jeweleryCoral reefs are the most diverse ecosystems in the ocean. Twenty-five percent of all marine life depend on coral reefs for food, safe havens from predators, and places to find mates. Reefs provide a source of food for more than one billion people around the world. Their majestic beauty inspires divers and has created booming tourism industries all over the world.

fungusUnfortunately, corals are in serious trouble. The list of threats to corals is long including, climate change, overfishing, ocean acidification, pollution, and fishing practices such as dynamite and cyanide fishing. The direct removal of corals from the ocean for consumer products such as jewelry and home décor also threatens corals.

SeaWeb’s Too Precious To Wear campaign aims to create a demand for coral conservation. We are working with leaders in the fashion and design world to spread the word about the value of these beautiful ocean animals and to promote products that celebrate the beauty of corals without harming the ocean.