For Immediate Release, February 20, 2020

Contact:

Kristin Carden, (510) 844-7100 x 327, kcarden@biologicaldiversity.org
Sarah Uhlemann, (206) 327-2344, suhlemann@biologicaldiversity.org

Trade Ban, Stronger Protections Sought for 20 Imperiled Coral Species

WASHINGTON— The Center for Biological Diversity petitioned the federal government today to provide critical new protections for 20 threatened coral species, including a ban on trade and new rules against killing and harming them. Although the corals have been listed under the Endangered Species Act since 2014, they currently receive few safeguards, despite existential threats from climate change and the aquarium trade.

The 20 corals in today’s petition to the National Marine Fisheries Service live off the coast of Florida, in the Caribbean, or in the Indo-Pacific region. About 50% of the world’s coral reefs have been lost since the early 1980s, and scientists say the rest could be gone by the end of this century.

“Corals are in a state of crisis, and we’re running out of time to ensure their survival,” said Kristin Carden, a scientist at the Center. “Reefs are the rainforests of the sea, providing home to a rich diversity of marine animals. Losing our corals will devastate reef ecosystems and the people who rely on them.”

The aquarium trade further threatens the corals. The United States is the world’s largest importer of live corals for the saltwater aquarium industry, importing around 70% of all live coral documented in international trade. Coral collection can cause direct overharvest of corals, habitat damage and introduction of exotic species.

“The collection of live coral is restricted within the United States, yet live coral from abroad is pouring over our borders,” said Sarah Uhlemann, international program director at the Center. “It’s time we extend gravely needed protections to coral reefs outside our borders by banning imports and reining in the aquarium trade.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.