Sunday, November 27, 2011

Protecting the Catalan coastline's red coral

Science Daily: Poaching accounts for the loss of up to 60% red coral biomass in the Medes Islands Marine Reserve, according to an article published in the journal Conservation Biology, signed by the first author Cristina Linares, a biologist from the University of Barcelona's Department of Ecology. The article reports the first study of poaching and its effects in the marine reserve and raises the alarm about the impact of recreational diving on the coral population of the Medes Islands.

The article is also signed by the experts Bernat Hereu and Mikel Zabala (Department of Ecology, UB), Joaquim Garrabou (Institute of Marine Sciences, CSIC), David Díaz (Spanish Institute of Oceanography), Christian Marschal (Center of Oceanology of Marseille) and Enric Sala (Centre for Advanced Studies of Blanes, CSIC).

The "reserve" effect in the Medes area has improved the conservation of many marine species in their natural habitats. In the case of red coral (Corallium rubrum), an endemic Mediterranean species that is harvested both legally and illegally along the Catalan coastline, the study finds that poaching is the principal threat to colonies of this prized marine invertebrate.

... Many of the large coral colonies found along the Catalan coast have disappeared as the result of human activities. The genus Corallium, which is protected by the Barcelona Agreement, has not yet been included in Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Applying the results of this research and increasing efforts in the area of management and conservation will be the main challenges in maintaining the beauty of Catalonia's coastal coral populations. This is the view of the UB experts involved in the study, members of the former Marine Zoobenthos Ecology Group and current MedRecover research group, which studies the direct and potential combined effects of global change on the conservation of marine biodiversity....

View of the Mediterranean shore of the Cadiz province from the top of the Rock of Gibraltar. Catalan Bay and the Rock in the foreground. Shot by MatHampson, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license

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