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NOAA Extends Public Comment Period for Proposal to List 66 Reef-building Coral Species under the Endangered Species Act


Porites napopora has broad basal colonies with irregular clumps of tapered and fused branches. It is found in shallow reef environments in the West and Central Pacific Ocean. Photo Credit: Arkive, Charlie Veron

Materials and Resources

Extended Public Comment Period and Notice of Public Hearing—The public comment period remains open until April 6, 2013.  A public hearing will be held on March 12, 2013, at NOAA Headquarters in Silver Spring, MD 20910. Click here for details.  

Federal Register Notice
—11/30/12

Press Release—11/30/12

Frequently Asked Questions Fact Sheet

Status Review Report of 82 Candidate Coral Species—Examines the biology of, threats to, and extinction risk of 82 coral species.

Final Management Report—Describes existing regulatory mechanisms and ongoing conservation efforts to manage and conserve the 82 coral species throughout the Caribbean and Indo-Pacific.

Supplemental Information Report—Compiles information gathered during the agency's public engagement process that occurred between April and July 2012 to gather additional scientific information and allow time for a review of the reports released.

Determination Tool—A replicable method for distilling relevant information from the status review report and subsequent input that contributes to each species’ extinction risk and listing status. It helps us convey a transparent process for making 82 separate determinations.

Determination Tool Flow ChartDescribes the various pathways to ESA listing status.

Webinar Presentation—Presentation delivered during several outreach webinars. 

 

Contacts for More Information:

NOAA Fisheries Pacific Islands Regional Office

Chelsey Young—chelsey.young@noaa.gov 
808-944-2137

Lance Smith—lance.smith@noaa.gov
808-944-2258

NOAA Fisheries Southeast Regional Office

Jennifer Moore—jennifer.moore@noaa.gov
727-824-5312

NOAA Fisheries Office of Protected Resources

Marta Nammack—marta.nammack@noaa.gov, 301-427-8469

Media, Please Contact:

NOAA Fisheries National Office

Christine Patrick—christine.patrick@noaa.gov
301-427-8030 Office
202-407-3117 Cell

NOAA Fisheries Pacific Islands 

Wende Goo—wende.goo@noaa.gov 
808-983-5333 Office
808-721-4098 Cell

NOAA Fisheries Southeast Region

Kim Amendola—kim.amendola@noaa.gov  
727-551-5707 Office
727-403-6533 Cell

Pocillopora danae Veron 2000
Picture showing bleaching of nearly all coral species except Heliopora coerulea

NOAA Fisheries is proposing Endangered Species Act (ESA) listings for 66 coral species: 59 in the Pacific and seven in the Caribbean.

Extended Comment Period on Coral Listing and Public Hearing

Effective February 25, 2013, NOAA Fisheries extends the comment period on the proposed listing determinations of 66 reef-building coral species and the proposed reclassifications of elkhorn (Acropora palmata) and staghorn (Acropora cervicornis) corals under the ESA. Comments may be submitted until April 6, 2013. NOAA Fisheries also announces a public hearing will be held in Silver Spring, MD, on March 12, 2013.

A Science-Based Decision

In 2009, NOAA received a petition to list 83 species of reef-building corals under the ESA from the Center for Biological Diversity. On February 10, 2010, NOAA found that the Center presented substantial information indicating that listing under the ESA may be warranted for 82 of the 83 petitioned species.

Following the initial finding, NOAA convened a Biological Review Team to initiate a formal status review of the 82 species. The result was a Status Review Report, released in April 2012. The peer-reviewed report incorporated and summarized the best available scientific and commercial data to date.

The agency also conducted a public engagement process between April and July 2012 to gather additional scientific information, allow time for a public review of the Status Review and Draft Management Reports, and to further engage the public. All relevant information gathered was summarized in a new Supplemental Information Report

Together, the Status Review, Supplemental Information, and Final Management reports form the basis of our proposed listing.

How to Participate

This proposed listing is not yet final. Before making a final decision on this proposal, we are asking for comments from all interested parties. The public has an additional 40 days to provide additional comments, which will be considered before NOAA issues its final decision. There are several ways to participate including:

  • Submit a public comment online. Go to www.regulations.gov and enter NOAA-NMFS-2010-0036 into the keyword search.
  • Attend the public hearing at NOAA Headquarters in Silver Spring, MD, on March 12, 2013. Click here for details.
  • Public hearings were conducted in the Pacific islands or Southeast regions in January and February 2013. See a list of hearings  in the Federal Register Notice and in this table.
  • Join one of several webinars, which will be announced on this web page when available.
  • If you were unable to attend the national stakeholder webinar conducted on December 19, 2012, you may find the presentation here.

Corals are Valuable in Many Ways

Corals are tremendously important to the biodiversity of the world's oceans and they have measurable economic value for communities around the world. Reefs provide home and shelter to over 25% of fish in the ocean and up to two million marine species. The direct economic and social benefits of coral reefs are real and wide ranging.

One independent study reported that coral reefs provide approximately $483 million in annual net benefit to the U.S. economy from tourism and recreation activities and a combined annual net benefit from all goods and services of about $1.1 billion. NOAA also estimates the annual commercial value of U.S. fisheries from coral reefs to be more than $100 million; reef-based recreational fisheries generate an additional $100 million annually.

Major Threats to Coral Reefs

Corals are facing severe threats, and it’s highly likely that these threats will increase over time. NOAA identified 19 threats, including:  rise in ocean temperatures, ocean acidification, disease, ecological effects of fishing, and poor land-use practices. The three major threats identified – rising ocean temperatures, ocean acidification, and disease – are all directly or indirectly linked to greenhouse gas emissions and a changing climate. But, despite the broad global threats to corals, there is evidence that alleviating more local stressors can help improve resiliency for many coral species. 
 

Supplemental Information From April 2012 Announcement

As part of our process to evaluate the 82 species of coral from the Caribbean and Pacific for listing under the Endangered Species Act, NOAA held several scientific workshops and public listening sessions where we invited public review of two reports, the Status Review Report and the Draft Management Report.

Past Federal Register Notices

Center for Independent Experts Reports

Science Workshop Documents—June 2012