Who will protect ocean coral?

Monday, March 29, 2010

I read with dismay about red and pink coral not receiving protected status from the U.N. body responsible for such designations ["Nations reject coral protections at wildlife conservation conference," news story, March 22]. The fact that nations that have signed on to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) chose to give in to misleading lobbying from countries with coral industries is a disheartening testament that sound science doesn't always prevail.

Now that international trade protection for these species has failed, it is up to jewelry, fashion and home-decor designers to pledge to not use real coral in their work. The United States alone contributes significantly to the 30 to 50 tons of red and pink coral taken annually from the ocean. It is time for the marketplace to take action where international governments have been unsuccessful, and it is up to consumers to take a stand and not purchase items made from coral.

While this CITES conference was disappointing for marine species, the delegates should know that the world was watching. I hope that people will realize that owning a coral necklace or eating shark fin soup is not necessary but that protecting these species is vital to the health of all of us who live on this ocean planet.

CĂ©line Cousteau, New York

The writer is a filmmaker and conservationist.

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