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Coral Mining
Introduction | Identification | Impacts | Causes | Actions | More Info

Extraction of hard corals and reef rocks for building material, decorative ornaments, the manufacture of household furnishings, aquarium conditioning and displays, (Lovell 1995). The practice can be found in all regions where coral reefs exist (Ohman and Cesar 2000). In the Maldives alone, approximately 20,000m3 of corals are collected each year primarily for construction materials (Brown and Dunne 1988). In addition to mining coral for construction materials, in places where people chew betel nut (the nut of the areca palm), lime is often produced from coral and consumed as the nut is chewed. Where a village or island community specializes in harvesting coral to supply a large market with this type of lime, the impact on certain coral populations can be significant.

In addition to reducing the number of coral colonies, coral mining reduces the wave absorbing properties of coral reefs Destruction of the reef exposes the shoreline and coastal communities to storm surges and erosion. Many countries have banned coral mining due to its negative impact on coastlines (Clark 1996). However, the mining of corals and limestone from ancient coral reefs can be sustainable as well as profitable for local communities and is distinguished from coral mining of live reefs. Managing harvests of living coral can also provide sustainable alternatives to the damaging effects of lime production.
Harvested corals bleached and sun dried along the beach. Location: Cebu, Mactan Island, Philippines Photo by: M. Ross (from ReefBase: http://www.reefbase.org)
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