NOAA considering Endangered Species Act protections for 82 coral species
75 Fed. Reg. 6616 / Vol. 75, No. 27 / Wednesday, February 10, 2010 / Proposed Rules
DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
50 CFR Parts 223 and 224
Docket No. 0911231415–0052–01 / RIN 0648–XT12
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife; Notice of 90–Day Finding on a Petition to List 83 Species of Corals as Threatened or Endangered Under the Endangered Species Act (ESA)
AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Department of Commerce.
ACTION: 90–day petition finding; request for information.
SUMMARY: We (NMFS) announce a 90–day finding on a petition to list 83 species of corals as threatened or endangered under the ESA. We find that the petition presents substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that the petitioned actions may be warranted for 82 species; we find that the petition fails to present substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that the petitioned action may be warranted for Oculina varicosa. Therefore, we initiate status reviews of 82 species of corals to determine if listing under the ESA is warranted. To ensure these status reviews are comprehensive, we solicit scientific and commercial information regarding these coral species.
DATES: Information and comments must be submitted to NMFS by April 12, 2010.
EXCERPT: On October 20, 2009, we received a petition from the Center for Biological Diversity to list 83 species of coral as threatened or endangered under the ESA. The petitioner also requested that critical habitat be designated for these corals concurrent with listing under the ESA. The petition asserts that synergistic threats of ocean warming, ocean acidification, and other impacts affect these species, stating that immediate action is needed to reduce greenhouse gas concentrations to levels that do not jeopardize these species. The petition also asserts that the species are being affected by dredging, coastal development, coastal point source pollution, agricultural and land use practices, disease, predation, reef fishing, aquarium trade, physical damage from boats and anchors, marine debris, and aquatic invasive species. The petition briefly summarizes the description, taxonomy, natural history, distribution, and status for each petitioned species, and discusses the status of each oceanic basin’s coral reefs. It also describes current and future threats that the petitioners assert are affecting or will affect these species.
The petition states that all of these species are classified as vulnerable (76 species), endangered (six species: Acropora rudis, Anacropora spinosa, Montipora dilatata, Montastraea annularis, M. faveolata, Millepora tuberosa), or critically endangered (one species: Porites pukoensis) by the World Conservation Union (IUCN). Montipora dilatata and Oculina varicosa are also on our Species of Concern list. Photo from NOAA above of Montipora dilatata, sometimes known as purple rice coral, irregular rice coral, or Hawaiian reef coral is one of the rarest Pacific coral species and occurs only in the Hawaiian archipelago. To understand the "purple" rice coral reference, visit ARKive.
KEITHINKING: The NOAA announcement trailed the Center for Biological Diversity's threat of litigation by only a few weeks. See CBD's January 20, 2010 press release. Newsmedia coverage includes stories in New York Times, Washington Post, and happy interest groups may include the jewelry industry that uses red and pink corals. See also WWF.