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Questions about the coral

Are coral reefs not protected?

Many coral reefs are now protected. The corals that form reefs live just below the water surface at shallow depths, are brittle and delicately branched. However, the corals that are considered for jewelry are not reef corals, but deep sea corals. Jewelry corals live in other geographical areas, in great water depths and have completely different characteristics than reef corals.

Can corals in the Mediterranean be harvested sustainably?

Yes. The growth of deep-sea corals in the Mediterranean is monitored by the G.F.C.M.

(General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean), a sub-organization of the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations). The regulations, which are based on scientific principles, are mandatory for all countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. The main representative of the scientific community for the protection of Mediterranean corals is the University of Cagliari (Sardinia). Thanks to the collaboration of the University, the G.F.C.M and the Italian State, Sardinia is a leader in research for the protection of Corallium rubrum.

The main points of the regulations that govern the harvesting of Mediterranean corals:

  1. Harvesting of corals is allowed only by scuba divers using a hammer. All other methods are prohibited.

  2. The use of ROVs (Remote Operated Underwater Vehicles) may be permitted for the sole purpose of searching and exploring for corals in certain areas, for study purposes only, not for harvesting.

  3. The extraction of coral at depths higher than 50 meters is prohibited.

  4. Reports must be filed on all corals harvested, indicating the extent of harvest as well as the area and water depth.

  5. Harvesting of small colonies is prohibited, this specifically concerns colonies with branches of diameter less than 7 mm, measured at their base. The maximum tolerance is 10% of the total amount harvested from the colony in question.

  6. Harvests must be brought ashore at designated ports where compliance with regional regulations regarding quantity, depth and areas will be verified.

  7. Since 2014, the Regional Regulations of the G.F.C.M. have been regularly discussed and reviewed in various workshops - so they can be adapted to the latest scientific findings at any time.

  8. The GFCM decrees are binding for every country bordering the Mediterranean Sea. However, individual countries are free to adopt more stringent measures.

  9. If, based on the reports collected, there is scientific evidence that growth is slowing in an area, it may be closed to coral harvesting until the corals have regrown.

Can this sustainability be certified?

Yes. The location, quantity and depth of the harvest that makes up the raw material purchase will be listed on the invoice.

And what about sustainability in the Pacific?

Unlike in the Mediterranean, mining here is done with underwater robots that are precisely

programmed so that only suitable branches are sawn off. This is determined by marine

biologists after the seabed has been scanned. Mining can take place down to a depth of 1,000 meters. There are clear guidelines as to when which type of coral may be mined and where.


Centers of the coral trade for Pacific coral were Taipei and Hong Kong for a long time. Currently, these trading centers are of lesser importance and the trade of unprocessed Pacific coral is very limited.

The Pacific coral is subject to a so-called Cites obligation. CITES, the Convention on

International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, is a worldwide

association for the protection of endangered animal and plant species. In this way, harvest

quantities and trade routes can be controlled.

Can corals be grown in a self-contained system?

Not yet, but research is being done to put it into practice. The idea is to stimulate growth, as in grafting fruit trees.

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