Nick Miller, a student at the University of Kansas, grows numerous species of corals in his 3-bedroom apartment in Lawrence, Kan. His years of successful coral growing may soon end because of a possible trade ban on 66 species of corals, proposed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA.
“The people who are trying to save the reefs politically don’t care about the trade at all,” Ian Higby, fishroom manager at Pet World, Lawrence, Kan., said.
“There’s no argument about it – its stupid. It’s ruining the reef economy. They say ‘don’t hurt the reefs,’ but they’re missing the target,” Higby said.
The NOAA aims to preserve and protect coral species in their natural habitats. A species is endangered “if it is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range,” and a species is threatened if it is “likely to be endangered in the foreseeable future,” According to the NOAA.
The proposed change will ban the trade of numerous corals common in reef aquariums, whether they were once wild corals or grown in captivity.
Captive grown, or aquacultured, corals are much more hardy and rebound quicker from stress, Evie Anderson, an employee at Paradise Aquatics, Lawrence, Kan., said. “Collected corals don’t ship as well and are more sensitive to fluctuations in water conditions,” Anderson said.
Most of the proposed banned corals are naturally found near Australia, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, and some of the species are only found near the Great Barrier Reef.
Habitat of Proposed Banned Corals
Among the 66 proposed banned corals are species of frogspawn, bubble, torch and hammer corals, all of which are common in the reef aquarium trade.
“A lot of the ones I have, like the frogspawns and the torches and the hammers, they totally take off in people’s tanks, ” Anderson said, “It’s a little overwhelming to think that they say that so many of them are endangered.”
Paradise Aquatics has grown colonies of many of the proposed banned species, some of which have lived in the store for nearly 10 years. “It’s just hard for me to comprehend because they do so well in captivity,” Anderson said.
If the NOAA’s proposal takes effect, hobbyists and storeowners will be unable to sell or trade the banned species. “What do they want me to do with them?” Anderson said. People who keep proposed banned corals will have to destroy the corals they no longer want or can care for. “At some point, they’re going to outgrow the tank,” Anderson said.
Anderson said that if the proposed ban passes, Paradise Aquatics would “happily ship their threatened or endangered corals to wherever they’re struggling in the ocean.”
Miller said none of his corals were harvested from the ocean – they’re all captive grown.
“By taking corals from the ocean and getting them used to captivity, we’re only helping the ecosystem,” Miller said.
Below is an excerpt from my interview with Nick Miller
Transcript of the interview excerpt.