Bringing something back from a holiday is a great way to commemorate a wonderful trip, or share a little piece of your travel experience with loved ones back home. However, according to experts, “authorities are cracking down” on tourists who are choosing to remove parts of the natural landscape to take home.
This particularly applies to shells and pieces of coral, depending on where you take them from.
In certain countries, removing seashells from the beach or coral is actually illegal.
This is certainly true in the UK, where under the Coastal Protection Act of 1949, it is illegal to take any kind of natural materials from public beaches.
Anyone caught doing so by authorities could be fined up to £1,000.
According to Rich Quelch, global head of marketing at Lifestyle Packaging, these bans could also stretch to certain airports around the world.
He explained: “With the school summer holidays in full swing, millions of us will be passing through UK airports on our travels abroad.
“Buying souvenirs to bring home can be a great way to remember a trip, but not checking regulations could mean your treasured keepsakes and gifts don’t get past security.”
One of the most “surprising” of these, he says, are coral and shells.
In certain countries across Eastern Asia, coral environments have faced a decline over the years as a result of coral poaching.
Coral poaching is the confiscation of highly valued coral species from protected areas for sale.
Often, people take coral to be used in jewellery, which can then be sold for sums upwards of $1,800 (approximately £1,485 per gram).
Most coral colonies that are harvested take a long time to recover and the effect on the ecosystem surrounding it can be huge.
There is evidence to suggest that one-third of coral reefs
worldwide are damaged beyond repair, with many more under critical condition and threat.
One coral site could take a minimum of 10 years to fully recover and could even take up to 50 years to finally be functioning in the environment as it had before.
According to the Government website in Hawaii, collecting dead coral, coral rubble or live rock is “prohibited statewide by statute HRS 171-58.5 and 205A-44.”
This means that even picking a piece up from the beach would be breaking the local code.
Similarly, in Egypt, taking any piece of coral out of the country is illegal.
This is true even f you find it dead on the beach.
According to 203Challenges.com: “Even if you find it dead on the beach, don’t be tempted to smuggle it in your suitcase, because airport security has special software that can detect pieces of coral by their shape.”
The key to understanding the rules around collecting shells, coral and pebbles from beaches is to research the laws for your specific destination.