Tunisia: Biodiversity - Tunisia Works With FAO and Several Mediterranean Countries to Preserve Red Coral in Mediterranean Sea

Tunis/Tunisia — Tunisia is working in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and several Mediterranean countries to preserve red coral in the Mediterranean through a research programme aimed at collecting all data on existing coral populations and threatened species and setting up a scientific database on red coral in the Nostrum Sea.

According to a press release from the FAO's General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM), this database, which will come into being in 2022 with the completion of the programme, will help determine the most appropriate management measures for the preservation of the precious red coral in the Mediterranean.

The Mediterranean Red Coral Research Programme was initiated in March 2020 by FAO, through the GFCM, with the aim of gathering information on priority species and providing advice to Mediterranean country officials. It will end in December 2022.

Within the framework of this programme, the Ministry of Agriculture, Hydraulic Resources and Fisheries and the National Institute of Marine Sciences and Technologies (INSTM) have been collaborating since 2020 with research institutes, universities and ministries in Algeria, Croatia, Spain, France, Greece and Italy to strengthen scientific research and data collection on red coral in the Mediterranean Sea.

In addition, FAO, through its General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean, is working with Tunisia and other countries to strengthen control and monitoring of fishing activities, while working to maintain red coral harvesting at a sustainable level.

«This is not just about the communities who fish for coral; there are generations of people connected to the fishing, processing and trading of corals. We have to support these communities so this is sustainable long into the future,» says Kim Friedman, Senior Fishery Resources Officer at FAO.

Red coral has been a precious commodity since prehistoric times. Traces of this colourful organism have been found at archaeological sites across Europe, and it has adorned religious art, sculptures, ornaments and jewellery for centuries. It can be found in shades ranging from pale pink to deep red and top quality coral sells for up to USD 6 000 (EUR 5 000) per kilogramme.

Some precious coral species, including red coral, are now recognised as vulnerable because of a range of pressures, including rising sea temperatures, water pollution as well as uncontrolled harvest. Together with a changing climate, these issues threaten the long-term survival of red coral and many other aquatic species in our increasingly vulnerable seas and ocean.

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