Species at Risk: Mediterranean red coral (Corallium rubrum)

Corallium rubrum is endemic to the Mediterranean and adjacent African Atlantic waters. This species has been harvested since ancient times and is possibly the one in the worst condition. Up to 2,000 vessels have been dedicated to harvesting this coral using such destructive techniques like the crowbar (barra Italiana) or double cross (cruz de San Andrés). In Italy, the main exploiter of this resource, 66% of the colonies are not reproductive, and in extensive areas in Spain, 86% of the colonies do not reach legal exploitation size and 91% are barely 5 centimetres in height.

Although certain countries show a sharper decline than others, the red coral catch has fallen 60% since it historic heights.