The exploitation and conservation of precious corals

Georgios Tsounis, Sergio Rossi, Richard Grigg, Giovanni Santangelo, Lorenzo Bramanti, Josep Maria Gili

    Research output: Chapter in BookChapterResearchpeer-review


    © 2010 by R.N. Gibson, R.J.A. Atkinson, and J.D.M. Gordon. Precious corals have been commercially exploited for many centuries all over the world. Their skeletons have been used as amulets or jewellery since antiquity and are one of the most valuable living marine resources. Precious coral fisheries are generally characterized by the ‘boomand- bust’ principle, quickly depleting a discovered stock and then moving on to the next one. Most known stocks are overexploited today, and populations are in decline. The unsustainable nature of most fisheries is clearly revealed by analyzing all available data. Precious corals belong to the functional group of deep corals and are important structure-forming organisms, so called ecosystem engineers, that provide shelter for other organisms, increasing biodiversity. Yet, their management is usually focused on single species rather than a holistic habitat management approach. This review compares the biology of precious corals as well as the historical ecology and the socioeconomy of their fisheries to improve precious coral management and conservation. The analysis demonstrates that a paradigm shift is necessary in precious coral exploitation, not only to conserve habitats of high biodiversity but also to achieve sustainable fisheries and stabilize a specialized jewellery industry.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationOceanography and Marine Biology: An Annual Review
    Number of pages50
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2010


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