Recently, the Spanish Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Food and Environment, Ms. Isabel García Tejerina, has granted 12 permits for the extraction and sale of red coral (Corallium rubrum) in the external waters of zone 1 (Catalonia).
The concession of these authorizations is of big concern given that the latest scientific report on the status of red coral populations in Catalan waters states that 90% of these populations (both internal and external waters), are in a critical state of conservation.
This report further states that the majority of these populations can be considered ecologically extinct. The scientific community therefore recommends the immediate imposition of a 20-year moratorium on red coral extraction, with the possibility of extension. On the other hand, as a consequence of its alarming situation, in 2015 red coral was included by the IUCN in the red list of the Mediterranean in the category “Endangered”.
This situation prompted the Government of Catalonia, through Order ARP/59/2017 of 7 April, to i) reduce the number of permits from 10 to 5 for the 2017 season and ii) suspend extraction for 10 years (specifically until 31 December 2027).
However, the Government of Spain published Order APM/1101/2017 on 2 November, allowing the extraction of red coral in those parts of the Catalonian coast where no internal waters exist (from Cap de Begur to Arenys de Mar), thus omitting the scientific advice and harming the recovery of the red coral populations.
In order to motivate a rectification by the Spanish Ministry and appeal for an extension of the suspension of the extraction of red coral to the whole Catalonian coast (considering at the same time its extension to the rest of Spain’s waters), more than 50 research centres, NGOs, environmental and underwater organisations have promoted an Open letter that will be sent soon to the Minister Tejerina.
The information related to the Open letter and its adhesions can be found here: