Before Mexico signed the CITIES agreement, harvesting black coral crippled and killed a good number of Cozumeleños as well as destroyed portions of marine habitat.
After the treaty, Cozumel's black coral artisans -- which is a small group -- was granted a CITIES permit to harvest a controlled quantity of coral for fabrication, sale and export. This group's official name is Artesanias de Coral Negro Leemba Cozumel, Quintana Roo. According to the man in charge, David Calderon Uc, the permit allows harvesting of much more coral than the market can absorb -- approximately 20% of the permitted quantity is actually removed from the sea.
The group's pieces are sold under the Leemba trademark, with authenticity certificates and, if requested, export permits that are recognized by other CITIES countries including the USA.
The Cozumel guild struggles with local competition from uncontrolled Belizean black coral and imitations made of horn, bone, wood and plastic. Therefore, black coral purchases should always include Leemba documentation.