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Black Coral Art in Roatan???

Discussion in 'Bay Islands' started by Midge907, Jan 2, 2012.

  1. Midge907

    Midge907 Divemaster Candidate

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Fairbanks, Alaska
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    Im just looking for some insight here, not trying to start a popcorn section of whats right and whats wrong without facts. My understanding is that you can buy Black Coral artifacts in Roatan from the local vendors, but my other understanding is that black coral harvesting is illegal. Am I right in that understanding? Is it harvested by artificial means? Im guessing that going through customs must not be any problem, since it seems to be sold on a open market? Please chime in, especially RoatanMan. Im just looking for insight, and to see if the thoughts in my head are validated in any way.
     
  2. Wookie

    Wookie ScubaBoard Business Sponsor ScubaBoard Business Sponsor

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    Black Coral is protected under appendix II of the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species, or CITES, the same convention that protects Rhino and tigers and elephants. Roatan is signatory to the convention, and specifically mentions corals on their website, but only has protections in place for Sea Turtles, Parrots, Crocodiles, and deer. Black Corals are regulated thus:
    However, this is only for the Bay Islands, and permitted harvest is allowed. That means that Black Coral may be harvested in places other than the Bay Islands, and Black Coral may not be traded (taken across borders of countries signatory to the convention) unless permitted. Don't buy black coral, and don't get caught bringing it into the USA.

    There is lots of stuff that looks like black coral that isn't. Looking into a piece of black coral is like looking into a pearl or opal, it is very "deep". Because of the regulations on black coral, it is valued on the black market very highly. A black coral bracelet will set you back $3-500, and a necklace over $1000. It's highly unlikely that your street vendor is selling you black coral. I've seen it growing in many places, and it's common in the Dry Tortugas, but I haven't seen any real jewelry in 20 years or so, and that was in Hawaii.
     
  3. calicant

    calicant DIR Practitioner

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Marina del Rey
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    I would prefer to buy a lionfish skin handbag for my wife
     
    Splitlip likes this.
  4. Doc

    Doc Was RoatanMan

    # of Dives:
    Location: Chicago & O'Hare heading thru TSA 5x per year with
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    From what I understand, there seems to be an exception for material acquired through "fishing by-catch". I believe this not only applies to selling in the Bay Islands but to importation into the US as well.

    That sounds like a fairly bull$#α excuse to me. Since most of this unintentional harvesting, as well as major reef degradation, is caused by the net dragging for Shrimp~ that's another thing we won't eat. Years ago, I bought some chunks of Black Coral right out of the Shrimper's nets, standing next to Oscar, the major Black Coral artist in Honduras. It occurred to me that I was influencing the fishermen to "accidentally" cause even more by-catch.

    Shells, notably the Queen Conch are prohibited, but a quick look at eBay with the search using "Roatan" and you will se a lot of things coming out of the Bay Islands. One itinerant vendor, who has since passed, used to sell Turtle shell products and dried Sea Horses at various locations.

    Check the laws, understand what is meant by "by-catch", and how that applies. The Bay Islands have a lot of nice carved wooden items, a nice alternative.
     
    Carl_F, DandyDon and Midge907 like this.
  5. RTBDiver

    RTBDiver Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives:
    Location: Jacksonville Fl/ Roatan Honduras
    1,397
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    Easilly available, I know a taxi driver whose uncles brothers wife's nephew can get you black coral, true mayan artifacts, actual wood timbers from blackbeards pirate ship, winning lottery tickets, pharmaceuticals, and cheap beachfront property all while on Roatan even if just there for a few hours on a cruise, he is quite poor so he needs the money up front of course so he can go get the products from his source but he is very trustworthy and will return with your purchase along with any change owed to you
     
  6. Midge907

    Midge907 Divemaster Candidate

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Fairbanks, Alaska
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    Personally I would prefer not to buy any of it, whether it was from by-catch or not. I wouldnt buy dolphin on purpose, just because it was a by-catch from the Tuna net. Interesting info so far, I figured there had to be a gray area there.
     
  7. Doc

    Doc Was RoatanMan

    # of Dives:
    Location: Chicago & O'Hare heading thru TSA 5x per year with
    9,186
    1,853
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    "I wouldn't buy dolphin on Porpoise, either" ~Groucho Marx

    @Midge: You left the door widen open for that, and being
    the way I am, I just had to toss that one out. They
    haven't been around yet this morning with the Medication Cart
    so I'm liable to post just about anything. It's really
    your fault, you made me do this. Have a nice trip
    to Roatan and CCV, please post a complete report when
    you get home.
     
  8. rob@diveinutila.com

    rob@diveinutila.com Dive Shop

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    CITIES is perhaps the best we have for restricting trade in endangered or threatened species. As RoatanMan points out "by-catch" is plainly a BS excuse and purchase of by-catch can simply encourage "accidental" by-catch. I don't know what CITIES has to say about by-catch but seeing as CITIES agreements can cause species (dead or alive) to be siezed from you when exit a country or enter a country I don't think claiming by-catch would make any difference. It would seem that it is perhaps a way not to criminalize the fishing industry for accidental catches of non-target species? I'm sure someone can comment on that.

    Black Coral is listed under App. II of CITIES which is not necessarily threatened with extinction but may become so unless trade is restricted. Queen Conch is also listed under Appendix II. According to Wikipedia "In the UK conch shells are the ninth most seized import."

    The CITIES convention is voluntary but only a handful of countries are not signed up "parties" to the agreement. That means that both export and import of listed species are restricted. Honduras does not have the resource to effectively implement it's own conservation laws let alone CITIES so you almost certainly wouldn't have any problems taking black coral or queen conch shells, etc out of the country but bringing it into your own country you may well have it seized from you by customs.

    There is one simple rule to live by if you don't know any better and want to make a difference - don't buy anything that came from the sea. If you want to (even if it's a plate of fried fish) do your research first and find out what you are buying.

    The CITIES database is available on line CITES-listed species database and you can search by common name.

    For food at least the Bay Islands Responsible Sea Food Guide is a start http://www.coral.org/files/pdf/Bay-Islands-Seafood-Guide.pdf

    Even an empty shell can be home to something else :)
     
    Wookie likes this.
  9. RTBDiver

    RTBDiver Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives:
    Location: Jacksonville Fl/ Roatan Honduras
    1,397
    203
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    I gotta call a bullsh!t on this, why else bring it up?


    AGAIN, Why even bring it up??

    You would
    not to buy any of it??? Is someone forcing you to? are you into debt with some black coral dealer that we will see an episode on Law and Order made after??

    Face it, the only reason you posted was to start something, your kidding no one
     
  10. salth2owannabe

    salth2owannabe Barracuda

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    I'm not so sure I'd be so quick to judge-
    I've been in Fish and Wildlife law enforcement for 21 years, and an unfortunate side affect of the job, if you will, is that I've developed a very strong skepticism about the moral/ethical standards of humanity. Hopefully because the OP did "bring it up" folks (including the OP) that read these posts will be more educated about things like CITES, WEMS, and trade in ES wildlife. Unfortunately, penalties associated with the illegal trade of wildlife don't typically fit the level of potential long lasting, or permanent, results of the unlawful act. We all know that if there is a demand there is a market. We may not be able to significantly influence things such as penalties or levels of enforcement in these developing countries, but we can sure influence demand.
     

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