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    Illegal and Trendy Japanese Corals, Yay or Nay?

    The image below was provided to my by Mr. Koji Wada, showing a beautiful aquarium in Japan dominated by Rhizotruchus, Dendrophylia, and Balanophyllia corals. These corals are legal in Japan, but illegal to export. Note, that not all beautiful flabellids are from Japan–however certain species like Rhizotrochus typus are not permitted by CITES making them illegal […]

    The image below was provided to my by Mr. Koji Wada, showing a beautiful aquarium in Japan dominated by Rhizotruchus, Dendrophylia, and Balanophyllia corals. These corals are legal in Japan, but illegal to export. Note, that not all beautiful flabellids are from Japan–however certain species like Rhizotrochus typus are not permitted by CITES making them illegal in the United States.

    jp-rhizo-reef

    Exporting corals outside of Japan is illegal, but recently we are seeing an influx of “Japanese Corals” selling for a premium.

    In the past corals have been labeled “Non-Indo.” Now these suitcase specials are popping up more and more… and retailers are openly calling them–Japanese. There are two possibilities. The first being false documentation from a neighboring country. This was popular during the still lingering Acan craze as Borneman outlines in this article. The second is a marketing ploy to inflate prices.

    Either way, given the legal restrictions is it wise for our aquarists to support this behavior (illegal trade or zealous marketing, take your pick!)… or if there is a market should it be filled? I am curious to hear the thoughts of dedicated hobbyists.

    6 Comments

    1. Nicholas Sadaka
      April 16, 2009 at 10:23 AM | Permalink

      To me, this again gives a bad perception of aquarists to the outside world. If we are seen as rule breakers and a group that is taking advantage of our reefs than we might as well pack our reef keeping bags now. I mean, it’s just common sense that if you are observing an unfamiliar industry and you see that it consists of rule breakers and people who do things to slide through the cracks, what motivation do you have to be the least bit sympathetic to their cause? Big mistake in my opinion-if something’s off limits, leave it alone. You have to ask yourself, do we really care about these animals, or are we just concerned with what we want in the immediate. Think about where immediate gratification has gotten us thus far as a society. Dissapointing to say the least, although, yes, it is a beautiful tank.

    2. stunreefer
      April 16, 2009 at 3:21 PM | Permalink

      Although I agree with Nicholas for the most part, WE ARE a group that takes advantages of the natural world, and in my opinion the most beautiful part, our Oceans reefs. CITES or not, we’re reef raiders no matter how you look at it…

      However, any time someone outside the hobby hears, “Reefers have a black-market and purchase illegal coral,” of course that will give the whole reefing hobby a bad rep, as does anything you hear regarding “illegal/black-market”

      To decrease the impact of our hobby it will take many experienced reefers helping (and possibly detering) newbies a whole lot more than is currently being done, along with ensuring sustainability of our reefs by continuing to aquaculture coral, breed fish and educate, educate, educate! Of course to eliminate our impact on the reefs, our hobby would be over (wild-collection at least), and they’re plenty of people out there whom wouldn’t mind that at all…

      Regarding the sudden surge of “Japanese Corals,” yeah, hah… what a crock! First we have random Zoanthid morphs being called “Saturns Left Nipple” and selling for hundreds of dollars a polyp, and now sticking a countries name in front of them makes them sell better… what’s the flavor this week?

      To answer Erics question, I believe that it’s NOT wise to support zealous marketing nor illegal trade. But as he noted… not all flabellids are from Japan 😉

    3. stunreefer
      April 16, 2009 at 3:23 PM | Permalink

      Although I agree with Nicholas for the most part, WE ARE a group that takes advantages of the natural world, and in my opinion the most beautiful part, our Oceans reefs. CITES or not, we’re reef raiders no matter how you look at it…

      However, any time someone outside the hobby hears, “Reefers have a black-market and purchase illegal coral,” of course that will give the whole reefing hobby a bad rep, as does anything you hear regarding “illegal/black-market”

      To decrease the impact of our hobby it will take many experienced reefers helping (and possibly detering) newbies a whole lot more than is currently being done, along with ensuring sustainability of our reefs by continuing to aquaculture coral, breed fish and educate, educate, educate! Of course to eliminate our impact on the reefs, our hobby would be over (wild-collection at least), and there are plenty of people out there whom wouldn’t mind that at all…

      Regarding the sudden surge of “Japanese Corals,” yeah, hah… what a crock! First we have random Zoanthid morphs being called “Saturns Left Nipple” and selling for hundreds of dollars a polyp, and now sticking a countries name in front of them makes them sell better… what’s the flavor this week?

      To answer Erics question, I believe that it’s NOT wise to support zealous marketing nor illegal trade. But as he noted… not all flabellids are from Japan 😉

    4. Jeremy Maneyapanda
      April 16, 2009 at 9:22 PM | Permalink

      Unfortunattely, this type of activity does give the reefing community a SOLID black eye. As stunreefer mentioned, some may be fixated on painted a black and white image of aquarists as “reef raiders”, but the truth of conscientious and ecological reefing is also quite easy to prove. However, with “Japanese” corals, there is no validation. They are either illegal black market poaches, or fraudulent price gouging hoaxes. Either way, they are terrible for the perception and proliferation of the community.

    5. April 17, 2009 at 12:38 PM | Permalink

      If these corals really are comming in illegally then we should shun them, if we dont then it really makes us and our hobby look bad and give some bite to the groups that want to shut this hobby down.

      If its just creative marketing then i feel this should be exposed because implying that they may be black market still makes us look bad.

    6. dj
      July 7, 2009 at 3:21 PM | Permalink

      This is a double edged sword we’re talking about here.
      Granted, illegal is illegal, and it would be nice if all us reefers abided by such. But let’s face it, we do this because WE WANT IT.
      That being said, on the one side of the sword, yes, we are raiders of the reef. On the other side, captive culturing of corals has also helped provide many corals to countless reefers, corals that otherwise would have had to be harvested from the reefs.

      Maybe Japan should have a regulated harvesting, or do more cultivating of these cool things and provide more for the hobby. 🙂

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