The government of Indonesia has announced very recently that it will be enacting quotas on coral trading to help preserve marine biodiversity in the area.
The Republic of Indonesia, which comprises a whopping 17,508 islands and 85,000 square kilometers of coral reefs, is right in the heart of the “Coral Triangle” area and is currently the single largest supplier of corals to the aquarium trade. According to a 2003 Johns Hopkins University Study, Indonesia’s coral reefs are home to approximately one third of the world’s coral and a fourth of the world’s fish species. Additionally, data collected from over four hundred reef monitoring stations found that only six percent of Indonesia’s coral reefs are in excellent condition, while 24% are in good condition, and about 70% are in poor to fair condition. This number speaks volumes to the destruction and devastation that the area has had to endure from overfishing, climate change, and coral harvesting to name a few.
According to Yaya Mulyana, the director of the Coral Reef Rehabilitation and Management Program Phase II, once the quotas are in place, coral traders will be advised to only collect and sell transplanted corals. Currently, there are only about 50 species of coral in Bali and West Nusa Tenggara that can be transplanted.
Even though CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, is already working to preserve coral reefs and other endangered animal and plant life, this sort of extra protection goes a long way in helping the cause. Overall, I support this kind of legislation. I feel that protecting natural resources from being over exploited needs to be the single most important goal of collectors, wholesalers, and even hobbyists.
Since we brought up you, the aquarium hobbyist, we must ask “What does this mean for aquarium hobbyists?” Well for starters, you will obviously see a sharp decrease in the amount of Indonesian collected wild corals making their way into local fish stores. Additionally, the price on the Indo corals will also rise, much like Hawaiian caught fish did when the local government there began to impose collecting limits. One other thing you might see is more corals coming from other areas, like other parts of the South Pacific that are not under Indonesian rule for example. Lastly, this will drive up the demand for aquacultured and maricultured corals, which will obviously benefit both wild reefs and reef aquarium hobbyists.
For more information, please see the Embassy of Indonesia’s website