CITES members have rejected, for a second time, a proposal to control trade in red and pink precious corals. 64 votes were in favour, 59 against and 10 abstained.
The red and pink corals are in the family Coralliidae, comprising the genera Corallium and Paracorallium. They are the most valuable and rare corals in commerce. Seven species in this family have been intensively fished for use in jewelry, amulets, art objects and homeopathic medicines. There is a well-established pattern of discovery, exploitation and rapid depletion of stocks, with fisheries moving on to new beds as old ones are depleted.
According to the proposal, the greatest risk to populations of Coralliidae is fishing to supply international trade. Landings have declining by 60-80 % since the 1980s, and populations of polyps in fished areas reduced by 80-90%. International demand has contributed to depletions of most known populations of pink and red corals, and newly-discovered stocks have been rapidly exhausted.
Lack of sufficient scientific evidence and the impact on the livelihoods of coastal local populations depending on corals were the main arguments advanced by the opponents to this proposal.
One of the species which would have been protected is Corallium rubrum, found in the Mediterranean. It generally grows at depths of 10-300 m, although you can find it shallower than 10 m in caves in Sardinia.
The proposal (Appendix II) would have meant that the coral would be allowed to be traded internationally but permits would be needed.