Tunisia seizes illegal red coral worth two million euros

Tunis (AFP) –


Tunisian authorities said Friday they had seized 671 kilogrammes of illegally harvested red coral worth two million euros and arrested 10 people on suspicion of trafficking.

Interior ministry spokesman Sofiene Zaag said it was the first haul of that size in the North African country.

The harvesting of Mediterranean red coral -- highly valued by jewellers -- is tightly controlled in Tunisia and has been banned for two decades in neighbouring Algeria. But divers still continue to secretly plunder reefs, mainly for export to Europe.

The National Guard said it had arrested seven Tunisians, an Algerian and two Spaniards in connection with the haul.

The Spaniards worked for an international import-export company that was suspected of trading black market coral alongside its legitimate business, Zaag said.

Despite conservation efforts, the future of the Mediterranean red coral remains threatened, not only by unregulated harvesting but also by climate change.