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Conservation Groups Seeks Listing 83 Corals Under Endangered Species Act

Posted on Wednesday, February 17th, 2010 at 2:58 pm by

A petition for the protection of over 80 species of Stony corals has been started by an Arizona based environments group. While 83 different species were originally stated, “only” 80 have made it to the final stage which could essentially put them on the Endangered Species list. This restriction would prevent these corals from being collected in any US water territory, ban import into the US, and ban interstate shipping. This petition could drastically alter the face of the reef aquarium hobby, especially since captive propagation would now require a federal permit.

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.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, information, or data, identified by
the Regulation Identifier Number (RIN),

[[Page 6617]]

0648-XT12, by any of the following methods:
Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public comments via
the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov.
Mail: Assistant Regional Administrator, Protected Resources
Division, NMFS, Pacific Islands Regional Office, 1601 Kapiolani Blvd.,
Suite 1110, Honolulu, HI 96814 (for species occurring in the Pacific
Ocean); or Assistant Regional Administrator, Protected Resources
Division, NMFS, Southeast Regional Office, 263 13th Avenue South, St.
Petersburg, FL 33701 (for species occurring in the Atlantic Ocean).
Facsimile (fax): (907) 586-7012 (for species occurring in the
Pacific Ocean); (727) 824-5309 (for species occurring in the Atlantic
Ocean).
Instructions: All comments received are a part of the public record
and will generally be posted to http://www.regulations.gov without
change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address,
etc.) voluntarily submitted by the commenter may be publicly
accessible. Do not submit confidential business information or
otherwise sensitive or protected information.
NMFS will accept anonymous comments. Attachments to electronic
comments will be accepted in Microsoft Word, Excel, WordPerfect, or
Adobe PDF file formats only.
Interested persons may obtain a copy of this coral petition from
the above addresses or online from the NMFS HQ website: http://
www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/species/invertebrates/.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Lance Smith, NMFS Pacific Islands
Region, (808) 944-2258; Jennifer Moore, NMFS Southeast Region, (727)
824-5312; or Marta Nammack, NMFS, Office of Protected Resources, (301)
713-1401.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

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 83 species included in the petition are: Acanthastrea brevis,
Acanthastrea hemprichii, Acanthastrea ishigakiensis, Acanthastrea
regularis, Acropora aculeus, Acropora acuminate, Acropora aspera,
Acropora dendrum, Acropora donei, Acropora globiceps, Acropora horrida,
Acropora jacquelineae, Acropora listeri, Acropora lokani, Acropora
microclados, Acropora palmerae, Acropora paniculata, Acropora
pharaonis, Acropora polystoma, Acropora retusa, Acropora rudis,
Acropora speciosa, Acropora striata, Acropora tenella, Acropora
vaughani, Acropora verweyi, Agaricia lamarcki, Alveopora allingi,
Alveopora fenestrate, Alveopora verrilliana, Anacropora puertogalerae,
Anacropora spinosa, Astreopora cucullata, Barabattoia laddi, Caulastrea
echinulata, Cyphastrea agassizi, Cyphastrea ocellina, Dendrogyra
cylindrus, Dichocoenia stokesii, Euphyllia cristata, Euphyllia
paraancora, Euphyllia paradivisa, Galaxea astreata, Heliopora coerulea,
Isopora crateriformis, Isopora cuneata, Leptoseris incrustans,
Leptoseris yabei, Millepora foveolata, Millepora tuberosa, Montastraea
annularis, Montastraea faveolata, Montastraea franksi, Montipora
angulata, Montipora australiensis, Montipora calcarea, Montipora
caliculata, Montipora dilatata, Montipora flabellata, Montipora
lobulata, Montipora patula, Mycetophyllia ferox, Oculina varicosa,
Pachyseris rugosa, Pavona bipartite, Pavona cactus, Pavona decussate,
Pavona diffluens, Pavona venosa, Pectinia alcicornis, Physogyra
lichtensteini, Pocillopora danae, Pocillopora elegans, Porites
horizontalata, Porites napopora, Porites nigrescens, Porites pukoensis,
Psammocora stellata, Seriatopora aculeata, Turbinaria mesenterina,
Turbinaria peltata, Turbinaria reniformis, and Turbinaria stellula.
Eight of the petitioned species are in the Caribbean and belong to the
following families: Agaricidae (1); Faviidae (3); Meandrinidae (2);
Mussidae (1); Oculinidae (1). Seventy-five of the petitioned species
are in the Indo-Pacific region, represented by five families (nine
species) in Hawaii: Acroporidae (4); Agaricidae (1); Poritidae (1);
Faviidae (2); Siderastreidae (1); and 11 families and one order in the
rest of the Indo-Pacific region: Acroporidae (31); Agaricidae (7);
Poritidae (6); Faviidae (2); Dendrophylliidae (4); Euphyllidae (4);
Oculinidae (1); Pectiniidae (1); Mussidae (4); Pocilloporidae (3);
Milleporidae (2); Order Helioporacea (1). All 83 species can be found
in the United States, its territories (Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin
Islands, Navassa, Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, American Samoa,
Pacific Remote Island Areas), or its freely associated states (Republic
of the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, and Republic
of Palau), though many occur more frequently in other countries.
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.

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