Don’t Shop For Coral Items: Stop The Illegal Marine Trade

Aren’t these pretty little things?

Hard Corals and Seashells for Sale, Manila (Gregg Yan)

Yes they are but they are better left where they are than take it home for display.  Stop shopping for corals and dried marine items.  As pretty as they are buying them is tantamount to supporting the killing of our Philippine Seas and our Marine life.  Instead of buying, take pictures, print them out and have them on display.

Just recently, two separate shipments of CITES-protected black corals, seashells and dried sea turtles with an estimated value of over P50M, were apprehended by Philippine authorities this month. The items were bound for export.

Black Coral

Philippine laws prohibit the gathering, possession, sales or export of ordinary, precious and semiprecious corals. Penalties range from six months to two years in prison and a fine of as much as P500,000.

The Philippines sits at the apex of the Coral Triangle, a 5.7 million square-kilometer region which spans the seas of six countries including Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste. The region provides food and livelihood for some 120 million people yearly.

A single square kilometer of healthy coral reef can keep on producing
over 40 metric tons of suno, talakitok and other forms of seafood year
on year. Over 27,000 square kilometers of healthy coral reef once
blanketed Philippine seas – but 50 years of destructive commercial and poorly managed artisanal fishing has left less than 5 percent in excellent condition. Just 1 percent remains pristine and productivity has begun to wane. The ‘rape’ of Cotabato’s reef is not unique.

Local and international demand for endangered seafood species drives the flourishing illegal marine trade. This is compounded by the apparent reluctance or inability of some public servants to go after those who break the law.

The Philippine archipelago, the world’s second largest, spans over 300,000 square kilometers, with 36,289 kilometers of coastline.

“How can you police all of this daily? So long as there are buyers, the
reaping shall continue,” says Tan.

“Government can be a catalyst. However, it is private sector involvement that keeps sustainable efforts in place for the long term, maintaining supply chains throbbing and productive. Ultimately, legal and sustainable incomes for local communities are going to be the straw that will break this camel’s back” he added.

WWF says the confiscated hauls from Cebu and Cotabato are merely symptomatic of what has been happening throughout the country –
illegal, unregulated and unreported extraction of marine wealth.  Not just to icon species such as sea turtles, coral, sharks, tropical hardwoods, Napoleon wrasse, giant clams and whales, but most especially to fish. In almost all commercial fishing areas, fish stocks have been overfished way past maximum sustainable yields. With increasing population and consumption, natural stocks alone will no longer be sufficient to meet the needs of future Filipinos.

Black Coral Accessories

Have you purchased any dried marine item on your recent summer getaway?  I hope that will be the last one for our future.  If we all work together and one-by-one stop buying these product, the demand will be less and will put this illegal marine life traders out of business.

Dear Earth,

It's truly sad news! Initial findings point to the region around
Cotabato, though it's very hard to estimate which areas were plundered
as black corals are found in very deep water. Never dived in Cotabato
but I've been there on land.

The curio trade can readily be seen in Cartimar, Pasay City. Live and
dead corals are sold at dirt-cheap prices. Repeated raids have not
discouraged traders. The best solution? To stop the problem at the
source. Kill the DEMAND. When no one buys, no one will have a reason
to collect and sell endangered species. Sabi nga sa SBN-21 20 years
ago, JUST SAY NO. = )

Very Best Regards,

Gregg Yan
Communications & Media Officer
World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF-Philippines)


Let’ s save our beautiful Philippine seas!

Stay gorgeous everyone!

(Hard coral photos courtesy of Mr. Greg Yan WWF Philippines)

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6 Comments

  1. Our country is so rich in natural resources and we should take care of them. It’s sad that some people are so greedy and think only of themselves and not our country’s future.

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