We are all aware of the international trade restrictions on vulnerable wild animals and plants to ensure their survival. While ivory easily comes to our minds as a material we shouldn't use, precious red (and pink) coral may not.

These deep water and slow growing corals fished for centuries as a jewelry component and for home decor are now facing enormous threats from pollution, rising sea temperatures and from overfishing.

Later this month, 170+  member nations of CITES (Convention on  International Trade in Endangered Species) will decide on the joint US and European Union proposal to place at least six kinds of red and pink coral species under Appendix II. Species in this category are those in serious trouble.  If successful, there will then be restricted harvests and controlled trade. If not, unregulated trade will decimate these living creatures.

Corallium rubrum (red coral) colonies were once 50 cm tall. Now 90% of the Mediterranean colonies are barely 5 cm tall and less than 50% are sexually mature.  The Pacific catches used to be in the 100-400 tons a year range. Now less than 5 tons are landed. You can read more about the Too Precious to Wear campaign. Do also watch this video by SeaWeb.

David Federman, Editor-in-Chief of Colored Stone.com wrote an article, Coralling Coral, highlighting this campaign. He also touched on the alternatives involving unrestricted corals. These can be dyed to look like the highly desirable kinds. Dyed bamboo coral and stabilized sponge coral are known pretenders. Real red coral fetches high prices so buyers ought to be beware.

Coral reefs are generally "on the brink of collapse". Millions of people depend on reefs for the fish - the main source of protein in many parts of the world, for tourism dollars and storm surge protection. So according to New Scientist, "We will be billions of dollars poorer when coral dies."

It's shocking the way we plunder the oceans and foul them. It's sad a hermit crab found a bottle top for a home rather than another shell. (picture source)

So what can we do? Well, we can certainly avoid buying threatened species of coral. We have some red coral for our workshops but Debbie and I are agreed we will use them up and not purchase any more. Nor are we keen on getting any coral of any kind.

The other way to celebrate coral is to evoke the beauty without using the material. One lovely tutorial I highlighted in my past post Learn New Stitches with Beaded Earrings, was the one on the coral technique by Anne Helmenstine who also happens to be a scientist. It is a branched fringe method of beading.

An easy coral beaded necklace tutorial is this one by the Cottage Industrialist:

The coral reef inspired bead and chain jewelry set tutorial from last Saturday's post is another excellent idea.

UPDATE - The proposal failed so coral is still not trade protected.

Original Post by THE BEADING GEM
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