Monday, March 22, 2010

IUCN red list assessment for red and pink corals?

Yesterday, during the US and EU's discussion of its red and pink coral proposal (which failed to receive the 2/3rds majority needed to pass, despite receiving a simple majority), many of the views expressed by the opposing countries mentioned the fact that red and pink corals "weren't even on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species." As if the fact that red and pink corals weren't on the List meant that all is fine. Today, I attended an IUCN press briefing on marine issues at CITES and Agence France Presse's Marlowe Hood asked the burning question, "Why haven't Coralliidae (red and pink corals) been assessed and are there plans to do an IUCN assessment of these species?

The amazing and prolific Kent Carpenter of IUCN and Old Dominion University responded. The reason that red and pink corals aren't on the IUCN red list is because they HAVEN'T HAD TIME TO DO AN ASSESSMENT YET. It was a completely erroneous argument by Japan and other opponents, and by the IWMC World "Conservation" Trust.

Other points made by Kent:
- 5 years ago, only 1% of IUCN red list species were marine.
- IUCN is due to assess over 20,000 marine species over the next five years
- All stony corals have been assessed and 1/3 were found to be threatened with extinction

My guess is that if red and pink corals are assessed for the IUCN Red List, they would be found 'vulnerable' or 'threatened with extinction.'

So my question is, now that this has been raised, can IUCN commit to doing a Red List assessment of precious and/or deep-sea corals? I know you only have a few thousand other species to consider, but if you could bump red and pink corals to the top of the list, we'd all appreciate it.

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