First records of illegal harvesting and trading of black corals (Antipatharia) in Madagascar
Black corals (Cnidaria: Antipatharia) have been used all around the world for a long time, whether as money or for medicinal purposes and jewellery manufacturing. Except in Hawaii where these fisheries are well known, black coral harvests are usually made without any control or any management. This is the case in many tropical islands and particularly in Madagascar, where the illegal trade is continually expanding. Since 2011, an illegal traffic of black corals has been occurring in the main cities of the southern and coastal regions of Ambovombe and Tolagnaro. In 2014 and 2015, hundreds of kilograms of black coral skeletons and a lot of diving material were seized by the authorities in the Anosy and Androy regions. Despite this and the continual harvesting of these natural resources, there has been no study of the excessive exploitation in this region. This paper is the first to talk about this new threat and to analyse and discuss the benefits of these fisheries. The first seizures and the efforts carried out on the island to stop the trade are explained. This paper highlights the urgency of studying these corals before making an appropriate conservation and management plan.