Red coral has been harvested for thousands of years.

The quest for this red gold during the course of time, summarizes well the development of nautical and underwater techniques from the era of the antique fisherman with his small bark and oars, diving naked in shallow water trying to tear off a few branches by hand, to present-day vessels equipped with geostationary positioning devices, multi-beam depth finders, remote guided video cameras, sub-marines and trimix diving systems.

We think the first voluntary harvesting of coral occurred during free dives where the water wasn’t too deep.  The modern version of the "ingegno” is a thick iron bar dragging swabbed chains drawn by a trawler: this is the “Italian bar”. The effects of such gear are disastrous for the coral habitat: the rocks are scraped, broken, turned over or covered with silt. Also, a great many broken branches remain on the bedrock. The cross is prohibited in France and in most countries. The last boats to have used it in Corsica abandoned this practice after 1983.

The development of solitary diving since the 1950s radically changed the manner in which red coral is exploited in the Mediterranean.
Coral harvesters dive alone with oxygen tanks to 100m in depth, and still deeper, by using gas mixtures and even recycling mechanisms with semi-enclosed circuits. The work in the deep lasts roughly 20 minutes and the very slow resurfacing occurs in stages, often lasting 3 hours, breathing in air, then oxygen through a breathing apparatus sent down by the seaman.

Protection and Regulations…

Precious, rare and fragile!                                 

Red coral is not an endangered species, even if exploiting it tends to eliminate a large portion of the stock. This statement may seem paradoxical, but is explained by the fact that red coral becomes fertile as soon as it reaches 2 to 3 cm in height, a height which has no commercial value.

Red coral is inscribed in Schedule II of the Berne Convention and in Schedule III of the Barcelona Convention, which implies management of the stock.
 
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