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Inverts for Curio Trade
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People enjoy collecting shells, coral and other marine souvenirs because of their unique beauty and curiosity. While a fascination with coral reefs should be encouraged, people are often unaware of the large quantity of animals that are removed from reefs for curios and the harm being done to these precious ecosystems.

During the 1980s and early 1990s, dried corals sold as curios accounted for more than 90% of the international trade in corals. In 1992, 4.4 million colonies were exported from the Philippines alone (USCRTF 2000). The jewelry trade often targets a relatively small number of coral species, but these corals are often rare, slow-growing and long-lived (USCRTF 2000). The collection of these coral species is considered to be at unsustainable levels in most areas.

In many of the countries that export reef animals for the curio trade, including the Philippines, Mozambique, Fiji, Taiwan, and New Caledonia, there is a general lack of resources to manage the trade and a lack of information to determine what level of collection may be sustainable without harming the reef. Other species besides corals that are collected for the curio trade include conch, cowries, tritons, other snails, starfish, seahorses, fishes, sea fans, sea whips, sponges, sand dollars, and sea urchins. Little data is available on the volume and extent of the trade in these species (USCRTF 2000). Reefs may be able to withstand a small amount of curio trade, but coral reefs are undergoing a broad array of stresses that are reducing their health and ability to withstand collection pressures.
Corals and shells gathered for the curio trade. Location: Noumea, New Caledonia Photo by: M. Kochzius (from ReefBase: http://www.reefbase.org)
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