By  on January 24, 2008

SeaWeb, the ocean conservation organization, is depending on the fashion industry to save coral reefs.

The nonprofit organization teamed up with Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Tiffany & Co. chairman and chief executive officer Michael J. Kowalski, Chantecaille owner and founder Sylvie Chantecaille, Lela Rose, Vena Cava's Sophie Buhai and Michael Aram in launching Too Precious to Wear, a campaign to raise awareness of ocean corals.

All were present at a kickoff luncheon on Wednesday in Manhattan. Editors from various magazines attended the event and were encouraged not to promote coral in their pages and to educate readers about the perils of destroying the reefs.

Corals around the planet have depleted by 1 to 2 percent a year for the past 25 years, four times faster than the depletion of the tropical rainforests. Too Precious to Wear is intended to educate fashion editors, designers and consumers to understand that coral is an animal that provides marine life food and fertile grounds for reproduction. The depletion of such reefs would harm the entire equilibrium of the oceans.

Coral reefs provide goods and services that amount to $375 billion in tourism each year.

"There's a lot of ignorance on the subject," said Kowalski, who barred the selling of coral jewelry at Tiffany & Co. five years ago. "Tiffany has long recognized the debt we owe to the natural world."

Louis-Dreyfus works with several organizations to help the ocean in California, including Heal the Bay and Heal the Ocean. "The thing about the ocean," she said, "is that, because people can't see what's in it, they're using it as a dumping ground."

In addition to raising awareness on the topic, SeaWeb is trying to pass the Coral Conservation Act. The act, which is pending in Congress, would help monitor trade in coral.

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