• Hobbyists Needed NOW. Read on

    When I read the news article on ReefBuilders today regarding the most recent decisions made by NOAA for the Endangered Species Act, I quickly grew concerned. We are being asked, all of us, to take a few minutes to sign a petition and state your concerns if it goes through as written. http://reefbuilders.com/2013/04/03/r...coral-listing/

    Can you imagine it being illegal to share this easy to grow coral?

    My own thoughts are from a hobbyist's perspective, as I've enjoyed sharing corals with others for well over a decade. If what I read was true, this could all change. This is very concerning, thus I shared my thoughts:

    While regulating coral species to protect what remains in the wild is a good idea, it has come to my attention that there isn't enough distinction between wild caught vs mari-cultured or aqua-cultured corals. Those grown in a farm-like system are providing the vast majority of corals purchased by hobbyists, and there is data to support this claim. I have kept saltwater reef tanks for over a decade, growing a beautiful reef from tiny fragments of coral obtained from OTHER HOBBYISTS.

    If NOAA wants to update the ESA to include threatened corals to assure their survival, that makes sense (assuming the facts are accurate per each species listed). However, stopping the importation of farmed corals that were grown intentionally to reduce collection practices on wild reef ecosystems is working backwards. Look what CoralRestoration.org is accomplishing off the coast of Florida. There are companies growing corals in greenhouses in landlocked areas like Ohio, with success! Encourage people to do more to provide diverse coral livestock, rather than create a law that will make aqua-culture and the sharing of coral fragments illegal.

    Attached is a picture of my reef, grown from frags over a six year period. From this aquarium, hobbyists in my area received hundreds of cora fragments to grow in their own tanks. Your current pending legislation appears to outlaw even that, which is shortsighted.

    Please rewrite what is and isn't allowed to assure that a blanket law doesn't become an oppressive one that hurts good people working to provide an excellent working alternative. For the record, I do not run a coral selling business, I sell aquarium filtration supplies so I feel my view isn't jaded for personal gain. My websites focus on educating hobbyists so they can keep livestock alive long term and with success. melevsreef.com / reefaddicts.com
    Are our corals endangered? Yes, we constantly read updates about coral reefs in decline and the reasons why. Obviously some of the ways to protect coral reefs is to quit taking from them, but if global warming and increased CO2 emissions are the leading cause of their demise, then I'm almost in favor of collecting more species that we can nurture in controlled ecosystems. We aren't at that point yet, fortunately. There are companies growing corals specifically for our hobby, which you can discover with a few clicks of the mouse. Walt Smith's corals (Fiji) have been available since early 2000, and Dr Mac not only has had a green house full of corals growing for a decade, but has recently added a new coral and clam facility in Tahiti, which is exciting knowledge we received at MACNA last fall. I've visited a greenhouse in the middle of Ohio that was filled with troughs of corals, and another similar system way up in Connecticut of all places. ORA grows out beautiful frags and has made specific hard-to-keep corals easier to care for; their corals are captive bred and have learned to respond accordingly. That's a huge step in the right direction.

    My reef was grown from frags, and provided hundreds of frags for others to grow out in their tanks.

    We hobbyists have excellent equipment and the funds to maintain their aquariums, better than many accredited public aquariums with full staff. If we get the opportunity to look under the hood, so to speak, we either see very simplistic solutions to water quality needs, or we'll recognize the gear we use is something they've decided to finally embrace and apply to their closed systems.

    If corals can't be cut and shared, our hobby will stagnate. It's crazy to even conceive such a thought is under discussion, as we've observed corals grow from a tiny twig into a colony in a mere 12 months. The blanket assumption that a coral will take years and years to increase in mass by a few inches is badly misinterpreted; that might pertain to one or two specific species. The majority of corals, soft and hard alike, will grow not unlike a well-tended garden and will even require pruning ( fragging).

    Efforts are made at a government level to create new reefs from sunken wrecks. They scuttle a ship, and wait for nature to take over. They may even plant a few corals on the hull to get things started. There are many good reasons to do this. And there are plenty of good reasons to allow hobbyists to continue to grow corals which can be sold or shared with others. We aren't turning these into jewels to wear on our bodies. We love to see them grow, to study how they respond to lighting, to food, to interaction with fish and invertebrates. Our children and friends are awed by what they simply can't or won't see in nature.

    What's next? Will everyone have to become SCUBA certified to see these corals in person, or on PBS / National Geographic? We need to be realistic, to protect was is honestly in danger, but make sure the wording doesn't paint us into the proverbial corner. Now's the time to speak up, to be heard. You have mere days to submit your name to the collective cause, because April 6th is the deadline. Gather up your thoughts, read that article, and be proactive. It's called freedom of speech; no-one is asking you to pay toward a cause... just take the time to state your case. Here's the link one more time:


    And here's the direct link: http://www.regulations.gov/#!submitC...2010-0036-0469

    Edited 4/4/13:
    Matt Pedersen does an admirable job explaining the problem in his article:
    Marine Aquarium Societies of North America (MASNA) responded with:
    http://www.masna.org/Portals/0/Blog/...listing v3.pdf

    Edited 4/6/13:
    Julian Sprung's thoughts on the matter:

    Additional Reading:
    Current NOAA docket page: http://www.regulations.gov/#!documen...2010-0036-0469
    Previous discussion on RB: http://reefbuilders.com/2012/11/30/b...ed-threatened/
    Comments 2 Comments
    1. michika's Avatar
      michika -
      Great post!

      The direct link for comments no longer works. The website says that the document has either moved or been withdrawn.
    1. melev's Avatar
      melev -
      Yes, the time to comment has expired, and we now await for the announcement of their decision.