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ESAblawg is an educational effort by Keith W. Rizzardi. Correspondence with this site does not create a lawyer-client relationship. Photos or links may be copyrighted (but used with permission, or as fair use). ESA blawg is published with a Creative Commons License.

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florida gators... never threatened!

If you ain't a Gator, you should be! Alligators (and endangered crocs) are important indicator species atop their food chains, with sensitivity to pollution and pesticides akin to humans. See ESA blawg. Gator blood could be our pharmaceutical future, too. See ESA musing.

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Follow the truth.

"This institution will be based on the illimitable freedom of the human mind. For here we are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it." -- Thomas Jefferson to William Roscoe, December 27, 1820.

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Thanks, Kevin.

KEVIN S. PETTITT helped found this blawg. A D.C.-based IT consultant specializing in Lotus Notes & Domino, he also maintains Lotus Guru blog.

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NOAA proposes critical habitat for black abalone, but not listing the Warsaw grouper

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75 Fed. Reg. 59900 (Tuesday, September 28, 2010) / Proposed Rules
DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
50 CFR Part 226 / Docket No. 100127045–0120–01 / RIN 0648–AY62
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants: Proposed Rulemaking To Designate Critical Habitat for Black Abalone

SUMMARY: We, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), propose to designate approximately 390 square kilometers of critical habitat for the endangered black abalone, pursuant to section 4 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Specific areas proposed for designation include rocky habitats from the mean higher high water (MHHW) line to a depth of 6 meters (m) within the following areas on the California coast: Del Mar Landing Ecological Reserve to Point Bonita; from the southern point at the mouth of San Francisco Bay to Natural Bridges State Beach; from Pacific Grove to Cayucos; from Montana de Oro State Park to just south of Government Point; Palos Verdes Peninsula from the Palos Verdes/Torrance border to Los Angeles Harbor; the Farallon Islands; Ano Nuevo Island; San Miguel  Island; Santa Rosa Island; Santa Cruz Island; Anacapa Island; San Nicolas Island; Santa Barbara Island; Catalina Island; and San Clemente Island. We propose to exclude the following area from designation because the economic benefits of exclusion outweigh the benefits of inclusion, and exclusion will not result in the extinction of the species: rocky habitats within the MHHW line to a depth of 6 m from Corona Del Mar State Beach to Dana Point, California. DATES: Comments on this proposed rule to designate critical habitat must be received by no later than 5 p.m. Pacific Standard Time on November 29, 2010.

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Once harvested for food, black abalone were plentiful in intertidal waters along the Pacific coast. The species was harvested early in California’s history by native Americans and peaked as a commercial fishery in the state in the 1970s. The state of California closed commercial and recreational harvesting of black abalone in 1993.  Since the 1980s, black abalone abundance has plummeted primarily from a bacterial disease known as withering syndrome. The spread of the disease may have been exacerbated by warmer coastal waters caused by factors such as long- and short-term changes in climate or from the warm water effluent of power plants. Other factors that may have led to the rapid population decline are historical overfishing, and poaching.  Caption info and photo from NOAA.

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75 Fed. Reg. 59690 (Tuesday, September 28, 2010) / Notices
DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Docket No. 100604243–0430–02 / RIN 0648–XW88
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife; Notice of 90-Day Finding on a Petition To List Warsaw Grouper as Threatened or Endangered Under the Endangered Species Act (ESA)
SUMMARY: We (NMFS) announce a 90- day finding on a petition to list warsaw grouper (Epinephelus nigritus) as threatened or endangered under the ESA. We find that the petition does not present substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that the petitioned action may be warranted. ADDRESSES: Copies of the petition and related materials are available upon request from the Chief,  Protected Resources Division, Southeast Regional Office, NMFS, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701, or online from the NMFS HQ Web site

WarsawGrouperUMASS.gif
The warsaw grouper is a large member of the sea bass or serranid family distributed from North Carolina south into the Gulf of Mexico to the northern coast of South America. Warsaw grouper seem
to be rare in the West Indies, with single records from Cuba, Haiti, and Trinidad; this rarity and their apparent absence from the western Caribbean shelf may be due to the dearth of deep-water fishing in this area. The photo from Department Of Biology, University Of Massachusetts Amherst, depicts a Warsaw Grouper (Epinephelus nigritus) from the 2002 Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo. It weighed 386.5 lbs and was 6'6" Total Length. The complete skeleton is a UMass specimen.

EXCERPT: The petition cites classifications made by NMFS, the International Union for Conservation of  Nature (IUCN), the American Fisheries Society (AFS), and NatureServe to support its assertion that warsaw grouper is imperiled. Warsaw grouper was added to our species of concern list on April 15, 2004 (69 FR 19975). Warsaw grouper had previously been included on our ESA candidate species list since 1999 (64 FR 33466, June 23, 1999). A species of concern is one about which we have some concerns regarding status and threats, but for which insufficient information is available to indicate a need to list the species under the ESA (71 FR 61022; October 17, 2006). Our rationale for including warsaw grouper on the species of concern list included a potential population decline and threats from fishing and bycatch. The IUCN classified warsaw grouper as critically endangered in 2006, a status assigned to species facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild, based on: ‘‘an observed, estimated, inferred or suspected population size reduction of ≥ 80% over the last 10 years or three Generations…”; however, In apparent contradiction with this classification, the IUCN’s supporting assessment for warsaw grouper states that its population trend is unknown and describes the status of warsaw grouper as ‘‘ambiguous.’’ …

The petition makes reference to the generally understood natural rarity of the species (e.g., citing results in Koenig et al. 2000). However, rarity alone is not an indication that warsaw grouper faces an extinction risk that is cause for concern. A species’ rarity could be cause for concern if the species was  distributed in small, isolated populations, or had a very restricted geographic range and was subject to specific habitat degradation. Neither of these conditions appears applicable to warsaw grouper.