AQUARIUM RUBRUM, the first Italian aquarium to be certified Friend of the Sea for its commitment to the conservation of the marine environment

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By Milthon Lujan

Aquarium Rubrum is the first Italian alive red coral aquarium to obtain the International Friend of the Sea Sustainable Aquarium Certification.

It is located inside the San Giacomo tower in Alghero, Sardinia (Italy) and the project comes from an idea of the artisan Davide Simula, in collaboration with the Marine Protected Area of Capo Caccia – Isola Piana and the Porto Conte Park. It is a unique project that provides an opportunity to get to know this delicate species of coral better, the Corallium rubrum or the Mediterranean Red Coral.

The presentation offered by Davide Simula to visitors provides details and examples of the marine fauna and flora, its delicate ecosystem, and the important role of coral in it. The fishing and coral harvesting evolution history, experienced by Simula firsthand, based on unsustainable harvesting practices have been replaced in recent decades in Alghero by a more recent, sustainable and well-regulated collection, that allows the repopulation of this unique resource in the world.

Until the late ‘80s, the red coral has been taken from the sea with a technique called “technique of the ingenuity”, which consists of the use of wooden tools to which nets were assured, then dragged uprooting the corals, with devastating consequences for the delicate ecosystem of the local seabed. Today this fishing method is strictly forbidden in Italy. The red coral can be collected only by experienced coral-makers who take the corals exclusively in immersion and using only a small pickax, for a limited quantity and only during certain times of the year.

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To obtain the Sustainable Aquaria Friend of the Sea Certification, aquariums must demonstrate their commitment to creating awareness, respect for the environment and the well-being of the hosted aquatic species. Other Friend of the Sea requirements to which aquaria must demonstrate is compliance through independent verification to include the absence of marine mammals in captivity, the protection of endangered species, and the sustainable fishing and aquaculture source of the species hosted into the aquarium.

“Friend of the Sea would like to thank Aquarium Rubrum for its commitment to disseminating these good practices and for raising the awareness of visitors to respect coral and the marine ecosystem. Our goal is to provide a reference list for tourists and environmentally conscious people who wish to select aquariums based on their respect for the marine environment and the well-being of the aquatic species present” says Paolo Bray, director of Friend of the Sea. “We hope that soon even authorized operators to harvest red coral will require the Friend of the Sea certification as their sustainable practices should become an example for the world coral industry”.

“The International Friend of the Sea certification for sustainable aquariums is an important recognition for our aquarium. It allows us to highlight and confirm the long-standing environmental commitment of Aquarium Rubrum in the eyes of Italian and international visitors and tourists” comments Davide Simula.

We protect and respect the sea by choosing a Friend of the Sea Sustainable Aquarium for our next visit.

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