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Can a tourist (me) in Sint Maarten, harvest corals for his personal saltwater tank, and then bring them into the US?

Cedar City, UT |

It would only be a few small pieces of live coral, to grow in my personal salt water tank at home. None would be sold or traded. No profit would be made.

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Attorney answers 3


Interesting case. It seems you are a tourist and you want to engage in harvesting activity in this Island. First of all in order to engage in harvesting activity you need to comply with some local rules and in particular with the Dutch rules existing on this territory. Once you have obtained a permit to harvest as a tourist (let's assume you can do it but I doubt it), the second stage is to engage in an international trade activity with the US. Corals are protected species and import in the US falls under the CITES, Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. Corals are regulated under Appendix II. In order to import coral (reef coral of other protected species) you need to obtain an export permit from the authorities of Saint Marteens declaring that such activity will not jeopardize the natural resources of the island (not an easy task). Thirdly, the US prohibits or regulates strictly the harvesting of coral within US waters.
From a legal perspective, this is something that that I would recommend.
In addition data are alarming. Trade in live coral reef from the Caribbean islands increases only for the benefit of marine aquarium and fish tank collectors. However, 90% of the live coral removed dies during transport. Because coral reef grows at an extremely low pace, the removal of this magnificent organism destroys the natural habitat of many other species....
In other words, according to the data, the removal of coral has certainly foreseeable negative consequences.

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Luca Cristiano Maria Melchionna

Luca Cristiano Maria Melchionna


From a legal perspective, this is something that I would NOT recommend.


I agree with counsel. What exactly is it that you're hoping to achieve?

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I agree with the counsels. I would start with getting permits assuming you can.

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