Declining fishing yields of the highly valuable Mediterranean red coral indicated overexploitation by the 1980s. In response, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) established management guidelines in the late 1980s, such as daily quotas, minimum size, and most importantly, the ban of dredging for coral in 1994. However, recent data led to new concerns about the sustainability of coral harvest by highlighting previous and ongoing overexploitation. The US and EU reacted in 2007 and 2009 by proposing to include the family Corallidae in CITES Appendix II to regulate trade. However, the proposals were rejected based on the hope and promise that local management would provide a less obtrusive solution. This article argues that limited resources and insufficient interdisciplinarity limit the research needed to improve management guidelines, while a lack of human and financial resources hinder local management and efficient enforcement. In particular, illegal fishing is out of control and threatens the future of the industry. Furthermore, there is no consensus on the concept of sustainability of coral fisheries. The most alarming recent development is an increasing pressure by the industry to be permitted to harvest deep populations using remote operated vehicles, which will risk depletion of the last stocks left that have not been overharvested. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.
- Illegal fishing
- Precious corals