NOAA announces final rule for smalltooth sawfish critical habitat in Southwest Florida, while Center for Biological Diversity announces lawsuit over Cape Sable Seaside Sparrow critical habitat
74 Fed. Reg. 45353 / Vol. 74, No. 169 / Wednesday, September 2, 2009
DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE / National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration / 50 CFR Part 226
Endangered and Threatened Species; Critical Habitat for the Endangered Distinct Population Segment of Smalltooth Sawfish
ACTION: Final rule.
SUMMARY: We, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), issue a final rule to designate critical habitat for the U.S. distinct population segment (DPS) of smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata), which was listed as endangered on April 1, 2003, under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The critical habitat consists of two units: the Charlotte Harbor Estuary Unit, which comprises approximately 221,459 acres of coastal habitat; and the Ten Thousand Islands/ Everglades Unit (TTI/E), which comprises approximately 619,013 acres of coastal habitat. The two units are located along the southwestern coast of Florida between Charlotte Harbor and Florida Bay. DATES: This rule becomes effective October 2, 2009.
Smalltooth sawfish are tropical marine and estuarine elasmobranch (e.g., sharks, skates, and rays) fish that are reported to have a circumtropical distribution. The historic range of the smalltooth sawfish in the United States extends from Texas to New York (NMFS, 2009). Encounter data indicate smalltooth sawfish encounters can be found with some regularity only in south Florida from Charlotte Harbor to Florida Bay. A limited number of reported encounters (one in Georgia, one in Alabama, one in Louisiana, and one in Texas) have occurred outside of Florida since 1998. Photo of a smalltooth sawfish at the Baltimore Aquarium from Sawfish Conservation Research.
In other news, the Center for Biological Diversity filed a lawsuit challenging the critical habitat rule for the Cape Sable Seaside Sparrow. While CBD asserts the rule to be another example of Bush-administration abuse of the Endangered Species Act, FWS (and a prior ESA blawg entry) previously explained that this particular rule stemmed from the complexities of Everglades restoration activities.