Whilst there are no international measures in place to protect Corallium species, there are a number of national measures in place. Corallium rubrum is listed in Annex V of the European Union Habitats Directive (2), and in 1994 the European Union banned the use of dredging equipment for the harvest of Corallium in the Mediterranean (1). In the United States, the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council’s Precious Corals Fisheries Management Plan has regulated the harvest of Corallium species since 1983.
The plan imposes permit requirements valid for specific locations, harvest quotas for precious coral beds, a minimum size limit for pink coral, gear restrictions, area restrictions, and fishing seasons (1).
A listing on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), which regulates international trade in threatened species, would help safeguard these incredible animals. In June 2007, Corallium corals came close to receiving this protection in a CITES conference, but the initial decision to list the coral was overturned at the last moment by a secret ballot, following a massive lobbying effort by the coral industry and some exporting countries (6). Sadly, this leaves the red coral unprotected, and vulnerable to the devastating impacts of a relentless trade.